Day 4

The Five Woe Oracles

Habakkuk 2:1-20, Proverbs 29:18, Hebrews 10:32-39

BY Guest Writer

Scripture Reading: Habakkuk 2:1-20, Proverbs 29:18, Hebrews 10:32-39

Let’s be honest. Sin can be entertaining as a spectator sport. There’s a certain draw to the grit and gore of sin in the lives of other people, isn’t there? At first glance, Habakkuk 2 reads like a cage match to me. God calls out a series of sins, and we’re tempted to sit on the sidelines, cheering, while munching on popcorn.

“Woe to the thief and extortionist!” (v.6, my paraphrasing).
Get em, God! we cry.

“Woe to the crook in his big, fancy house!” (v.9).
Take him down a few notches! we say with a smirk.

“Woe to the murderers and crime bosses!” (v.12).
Make them pay! we heckle.

“Woe to the drug dealer, the keg provider, the predator!” (v.15).
Let ‘em have it! we roar.

“Woe to the mystic!” (v.19).
We’re right, and they’re wrong! we boast.

But wait—look again. This passage isn’t punctuated with the celebration of the “righteous.” There are no “Atta, girls!” for us here. God follows the woes with a dose of truth, one that makes my eyes drop to the floor and my knees weak:

“But the LORD is in his holy temple;
let the whole earth
be silent in his presence” (v.20).

The holiness of God is a spotlight none of us can bear. It isn’t just pointed toward the crooks and the cowards. It illuminates our sin, and then suddenly we don’t feel much like cheering anymore. Coming face to face with God’s holiness, His righteousness, we are silenced by the weight of our sin and our desperate need for mercy. Instead of screaming, “Woe to you!” our sin compels us to respond more like the prophet Isaiah:

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty”
(Isaiah 6:5, NIV).

We are a people prone to rebellion against the loving laws of God. We are more likely to obsess over our own reflection than the image of God we bear. We are selfish, self-reliant, and scared. We are shattered by sin, and there is not enough glue in the universe to repair us. And no matter how hard we try, we cannot clean ourselves up or drum up enough righteousness to stand before a holy God. Woe to us.

That’s the truth we must acknowledge before we can truly live out of the forgiveness and grace of our Savior, the grace we all need so desperately. Thank God, He gives it so generously to all nations and people groups (Titus 2:11). One day the whole earth will know the Lord’s glory (Habakkuk 2:14), but the ground will always be level at the foot of the cross. The gospel bids us to gather there—the thieves and the theologians, the swindlers and the savers, the predators and the preachers. We are all guilty, and our sin levels the playing field. But so does God’s grace.

We are sinners turned saints, orphans turned heirs. We were unrighteous, but now we are clothed in Christ’s righteousness. Blessed are we! The new covenant silences us once again, but this time our mouths aren’t silenced in fear. Instead, we are made speechless by the goodness of our grace-giving God.


Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

Post Comments (38)

38 thoughts on "The Five Woe Oracles"

  1. Jordan Guerrero says:

    How is your daughter? Praying with you!

  2. Lucy says:

    I am soooooo guilty. This is a reminder to me that none is perfect and that is only by God’s, I am forgiven.

  3. Laura Alcala says:

    Wow… spoke to the heart

  4. Maiya Howard says:

    Amen amen amen!!! But Your grace Lord!!

  5. Caroline Choy says:

    Amen ❤️

  6. Ashley Thomas says:

    I, too, am guilty of thinking my sin “isn’t so bad” compared to others, but the fact remains that SIN is SIN! God’s grace and mercy and Jesus’ sacrifice for me make me clean. I am forgiven, and I definitely don’t get what I deserve for my own sins. Thank you God for believing in me!

    1. Brooks LeeLaCombe says:

      I think we are all guilty of this.

  7. Steph C says:

    “We are all guilty, and our sin levels the playing field. But so does God’s grace”. We can’t gloat over someone else ‘getting what they deserve’ because – in forgiveness- we have not gotten what we deserve and – in grace – we have gotten far more than we deserve!

    1. JORDAN SANDERS says:

      This!!!! So much this.

    2. Josephine Adansi says:


  8. Sue says:

    When I use others as a ruler or measuring stick to measure the sin in my life, it is easy to convince myself that I am not so bad.

    But when I use God as my ruler then all of a sudden I don’t look so good.

    In fact, I don’t look good at all.

    However, in order to use God as my ruler, I need to know him.

    So as Habakkuk waited expectantly, standing at his guard post and stationing himself on the lookout tower watching for God’s response (2:1) may I stand on God’s word, the Bible, and may I “be silent in His presence” (2:20) to hear what he has to say to me.

    And may I be convicted of my sin but may I also be blessed by His grace.

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