PRIDEFUL IDOLATERS SHOULD STIR OUR HEARTS TO COMPASSION AS THEY FACE GRIEVOUS DEVASTATION FOR THEIR REJECTION OF REFUGE IN CHRIST
This morning God is going to call us to examine our heart towards the lost. You need to be honest with yourself and ask God to remove any veil of self deception and let you see your true inner spirit. When we are confronted with the prideful resistance of sinners to the gospel of God’s grace, how do we respond?
– Often we are self righteous – imagining that we are somehow morally superior and would never oppose God in such a stubborn and futile fashion. Except for God’s mercy and compassion, we would also be destroyed. (Luke 13:1-5)
– We tend to be judgmental – as if our mission is more to condemn sinners to their eternal destiny in hell rather than to come alongside as fellow sinners and testify to the magnitude of God’s grace and mercy; remember that Christ defined the mission of His first coming of that of offering sinners salvation rather than judging; there will be time for judging at His second coming (Luke 9:53-56; John 3:17)
– We are quick to be revengeful – especially when we feel we have been personally wronged – actually rejoicing that the wicked will receive their just desserts (1 Pet. 2:18-23)
But how does the heart of God respond? What type of compassion did the Lord Jesus evidence toward the lost?
Luke 13:34 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gather her brood under her wings, and you would not have it.”
God is not some impersonal Force; not a watchmaker who set everything in motion and is looking at the events of history dispassionately . . . very emotional passage; we tend to be analytical in our approach to the Scriptures – grasping the Big Idea and the flow of the passage; don’t lose the emotional impact of the Word of God on our hearts
Van Parunak: Big Idea: Faced with lamentable destruction, Moab refuses the salvation that God offers her because of her pride and commitment to her false gods.
Oswalt: The thrust of the oracle is to discourage any who would be tempted to join with proud Moab for purposes of mutual security. Moab will be reduced to the most abject circumstances and will herself be forced to rely on Judah’s only hope: the Messiah (16:5).
PRIDEFUL IDOLATERS SHOULD STIR OUR HEARTS TO COMPASSION AS THEY FACE GRIEVOUS DEVASTATION FOR THEIR REJECTION OF REFUGE IN CHRIST
Chiastic structure once again – 16:1-5 – God’s offer of refuge in Judah lies at the heart of the passage
(:1) PRELUDE: FIRST PRONOUNCEMENT OF DEVASTATION
A. Introduction to the Oracle
“The oracle concerning Moab.”
History of Moab:
Location: east side of the Dead Sea – about 30 miles by 30 miles; some cities above the Arnon River that were contested by the Israelite tribes of Reuben and Gad; down south to the waters of Nimrim
Beginnings: Lot’s incest – Gen. 19:30-38 – upon being delivered from Sodom and Gomorrah; oldest daughter schemed to have children by her father – Moabites; younger daughter – Ammonites – like cousin nations; What a contrast to last week where we saw the emphasis on Judah as having been founded by the Lord
Conflicts with Judah:
– On the way to the promised land, they refused safe passage; king of Moab Balak hired Balaam to curse them (Num. 22:24)
– In the time of the Judges – Eglon attacked Israel and captured Jericho and oppressed the land for 18 years (Jud. 3:12)
– Story of Ruth who was from Moab – extension of God’s compassion and grace to the Gentiles
– Moab was conquered at the time of King David and its citizens forced to work as servants for the royal building projects (2 Sam. 8:2)
Beall: Moab is located east of the Dead Sea. The Moabites were descendants from Moab, the son of Lot and his oldest daughter (Gen. 19:31-37). The Moabites occupied the land east of the Dead Sea, going from the Arnon River to the Zered River (forming the border with Edom on the south). The land above the Arnon was contested between Israel (esp. Reuben and Gad) and Moab. Relations between Israel and the Moabites were often quite rocky. Moses was commanded by God not to vex them when Israel passed through on their way to Canaan (Deut 2:8-9, 18-19, 29). However, it was Balak, king of Moab, who hired Balaam to curse Israel (Num 22-24), and the Moabite women may have joined with the Midianites to seduce Israel’s men (Num 31:15-17). Later, during the judgeship period, Moab’s king Eglon attacked Israel, captured Jericho, and afflicted Israel for 18 years (Judg 3:12). The story of Ruth shows that there was free travel between Judah and Moab during that time. Saul fought Moab (1 Sam 14:47), and Moab was finally defeated by David (2 Sam 8:2, 12). Solomon, however, built an alter to Chemosh, the god of Moab (1 Kgs 11:7-8). In Ahab’s day, Moab’s king Mesha paid tribute to him, but after Ahab’s death (853 B.C.) Mesha revolted against Israel. That revolt was put down by Joram and Jehoshaphat (2 Kgs 3:5-27). The Moabite Stone (made of basalt, found in 1868 by a German missionary, and now in the Louvre in Paris), erected by Mesha, contains 34 lines of ancient Moabite (a language very close to Hebrew), which commemorate Mesha’s revolt from Israel after the death of Ahab. The name Omri is even found on the Moabite Stone (and also possibly “house of David”). The destruction prophesied here by Isaiah (and also by Amos 2:1-3) occurred at the hands of Assyria. Some refer this destruction to 732 B.C. under Tiglath-Pilesar, while others think it refers to Sennacharib’s invasion in 701 B.C.
Van Parunak: This oracle reads like God’s response to the Moabite Stone. “Mesha, you boasted of conquering all these cities for Kemosh, but the time will come when I will lay them waste.” We can understand the main thrust of the oracle without knowing of the Moabite stone, but if we have read the stone, we can hear echoes of it throughout these chapters.
Why does the Lord seem to have greater compassion for the plight of the Moabites?
Deut. 2:9 “Do not harass Moab, nor provoke them to war, for I will not give you any of their land as a possession, because I have given Ar to the sons of Lot as a possession.”
Seems to go back to His promises to Lot
How can the Lord both punish to the point of devastation and weep for the people?
Cannot compartmentalize the Lord into different emotional boxes; He is a complex unity; we call it the indivisibility of His attributes; His love works together with His holiness and His justice and His mercy and His compassion at all times; too deep for us to comprehend
Ezekiel 18:21-23; 32 “’Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,’ declares the Lord God, ‘rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?’” Ezek.33:11
B. Two Major Cities Targeted for Instant Ruin (part to represent the whole)
“Surely in a night Ar of Moab is devastated and ruined;”
Same word that Isaiah uses in 6:5 – proclaiming Woe upon himself for he is ruined, undone
“Surely in a night Kir of Moab is devastated and ruined.”
Van Parunak: The repetition of “in the night” suggests the suddenness and unexpectedness of the judgment, “as a thief in the night.” Mesha boasts of a night-time attack against Israelite Nebo in which he killed the entire population, and this may be an echo.
I. (15:2-9) FIRST LAMENT OVER MOAB – EXTENT OF THE DEVASTATION
A. (:2a) Devastation Exposes the Impotency of Their False Religion
“They have gone up to the temple and to Dibon, even to the high places to weep.”
Tone of weeping and wailing introduced right at the outset – more tears spilled in this passage than any other
Constable: Dibon was the site of a temple to the Moabite god Chemosh. Many of the people would go there to bewail Chemosh’s inability to save them.
B. (:2b-4) The People Lament – Worldly Sorrow Over Sin’s Consequences; No Genuine Repentance
“Moab wails over Nebo and Medeba; Everyone’s head is bald and every beard is cut off. In their streets they have girded themselves with sackcloth; On their housetops and in their squares Everyone is wailing, dissolved in tears. Heshbon and Elealeh also cry out, Their voice is heard all the way to Jahaz; Therefore the armed men of Moab cry aloud; His soul trembles within him.”
Oswalt: typical signs of mourning and lament (22:1; 2 Sam. 3:31; Jer. 4:8; 41:5; Lam. 2:10)
Van Parunak: The cities named in 2-4 are north of the Arnon. They are the territory of Reuben and Gad, which Moab had taken away. Now Moab mourns their loss.
Motyer: The heaping up of names is characteristic of Isaiah . . . and here creates the impression of widespread disaster. . . The tragedy is so overwhelming that the military can only turn to helpless sorrow.
C. (:5a) The Lord Laments – Heart of Compassion
“My heart cries out for Moab;”
Should we identify the one lamenting here as the Lord’s prophet, Isaiah, or the Lord Himself? Look down in vs. 9 and you see that the same first person pronoun is definitely used of the Lord as the one who is bringing the judgment. That should settle the question. Same person in both contexts
Does our heart cry out for the Moabites in our midst? Do we care that people are headed for eternal punishment without hope and without any refuge in the Lord Jesus Christ?
D. (:5b-9) Devastation Reaches Throughout the Land – Fleeing Fugitives Find No Rest
“His fugitives are as far as Zoar and Eglath-shelishiyah, For they go up the ascent of Luhith weeping; Surely on the road to Horonaim they raise a cry of distress over their ruin. For the waters of Nimrim are desolate. Surely the grass is withered, the tender grass died out, there is no green thing. Therefore the abundance which they have acquired and stored up they carry off over the brook of Arabim. For the cry of distress has gone around the territory of Moab, Its wail goes as far as Eglaim and its wailing even to Beer-elim. For the waters of Dimon are full of blood; Surely I will bring added woes upon Dimon, A lion upon the fugitives of Moab and upon the remnant of the land.”
Van Parunak: The cities are now south of the Arnon, in Moab’s proper territory. The nation loses not only the cities it had taken from Israel, but also its own territory. . . What is remarkable here is the repetition of the first person in v. 9. It identifies the first-person speaker as the one bringing judgment—the Lord! With the Gentiles, as with Israel, judgment is his strange work (28:21). He will certainly judge, but he takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek 33:11).
Constable: The Moabite refugees would move from place to place trying to find security. Their movement would be generally south, so the enemy may have descended from the north. The whole country would suffer devastation. Even though people would flee, they would not escape destruction. A lion is frequently an image of a fierce, implacable attacker in biblical poetry (v. 9; cf. Amos 3:12).
Motyer: These verses are a long list of what touches the heart of God, who weeps as he smites. The grief of the judge of all the earth is one of the two striking truths of this oracle. The other is that all this total loss and suffering arises from the single sin of pride. . . The lion was used as a descriptive human title, denoting a fierce, implacable attacker destroying alike fugitives and those who remain in the land.
Oswalt: The major emphasis is upon the effect, which will be that the Moabites will be so demoralized that their only response will be weeping and flight.
II. (16:1-5) OFFER OF REFUGE IN JUDAH
A. (:1) Condition of Submission (Offer of the Lord)
“Send the tribute lamb to the ruler of the land, From Sela by way of the wilderness to the mountain of the daughter of Zion.”
Send the lamb in a different direction – to Judah rather than to northern Israel (2 Kings 3:4-5)
“Now Mesha king of Moab was a sheep breeder, and used to pay the king of Israel 100,000 lambs and the wood of 100,000 rams. But when Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel.”
Young: The Moabites know how to send the tribute to Zion; they are well aware of how God can be reached. In historical times the tribute had been sent to Samaria; now it is to be sent to Jerusalem herself, for in Jerusalem the Lord may be found.
Heb. 9:22 “Without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness”
John 1:29 Testimony of John the Baptist – “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
Difficult for prideful people to surrender their perceived autonomy – really they are under the thumb of Satan
Col. 1:13-14 “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
B. (:2-3a) Call for a Decision (addressed to the leaders of Moab)
“Then, like fleeing birds or scattered nestlings, The daughters of Moab will be at the fords of the Arnon. ‘Give us advice, make a decision;’”
Motyer: Refugees are the most pathetic sight in war but girls suffer the cruelest fate.
We see newsreels today of the pitiful conditions of refugees; strung along the road; carrying their few possessions; no place left to call home; under the pressure of attacking, marauding forces
C. (:3b-4) Plea for Refuge (addressed to Judah)
“Cast your shadow like night at high noon; Hide the outcasts, do not betray the fugitive. Let the outcasts of Moab stay with you; Be a hiding place to them from the destroyer.
For the extortioner has come to an end, destruction has ceased, Oppressors have completely disappeared from the land.”
Introducing the idyllic rule that will emerge in Judah in the millennial kingdom; transition phrase
D. (:5) Promise of Messianic Administration in Lovingkindness and Faithfulness and Justice and Righteousness
“A throne will even be established in lovingkindness, And a judge will sit on it in faithfulness in the tent of David; Moreover, he will seek justice And be prompt in righteousness.”
– Combination of ruling in authority and in lovingkindness
Not the type of rule that was modeled in the Middle East
– Combination of judging in faithfulness and righteousness
All emanating from the “tent of David” – the Messianic reign of Christ
III. (16:6-12) SECOND LAMENT OVER MOAB – CULPABILITY FOR HER DEVASTATION — FALLEN BECAUSE OF PRIDE AND IDOLATRY
A. (:6) Fallen Because of Pride – Exposing the Self Deception of Idle Boasts
“We have heard of the pride of Moab, an excessive pride; Even of his arrogance, pride, and fury; His idle boasts are false.”
Jer. 48:7 (parallel passage) “For because of your trust in your own achievements and treasures”
Jer. 8:29 “We have heard of the pride of Moab – he is very proud – of his haughtiness, his pride, his arrogance and his self-exaltation”
How does Pride prevent sinners from seeking refuge in Jesus Christ?
– Pride puffs one up with a sense of false importance – based on Worth and Works
– Pride creates a spirit of independence that refuses to submit to the Lordship of Christ
– Pride prefers its own wisdom to the revelation of God
– Pride seeks its own agenda rather than the interests of the kingdom of God
– God resists the proud but gives grace only to the humble
Motyer: In verse 5, four words (love, faithfulness, justice, righteousness) described what the Moabites might have enjoyed. In this verse, four words tell what they chose instead: pride, conceit, pride and insolence.
B. (:7-8) The People Lament — Worldly Sorrow Over Sin’s Consequences; No Genuine Repentance
“Therefore Moab shall wail; everyone of Moab shall wail. You shall moan for the raisin cakes of Kir-hareseth As those who are utterly stricken. For the fields of Heshbon have withered, the vines of Sibmah as well; The lords of the nations have trampled down its choice clusters Which reached as far as Jazer and wandered to the deserts; Its tendrils spread themselves out and passed over the sea.”
No more dainty pleasures and sweet pastries; no more joy of wine; complete devastation
C. (:9-11) The Lord Laments – Heart of Compassion
“Therefore I will weep bitterly for Jazer, for the vine of Sibmah; I will drench you with my tears, O Heshbon and Elealeh; For the shouting over your summer fruits and your harvest has fallen away. And gladness and joy are taken away from the fruitful field; In the vineyards also there will be no cries of joy or jubilant shouting, No treader treads out wine in the presses, For I have made the shouting to cease. Therefore my heart intones like a harp for Moab, And my inward feelings for Kir-hareseth.”
Constable: Even when He must judge people, the Lord has pity on them and grieves over the destruction that He must send (cf. Hos. 11:1-9).
D. (:12) Fallen Because of Idolatry – Exposing the Impotency of Their False Religion
“So it will come about when Moab presents himself, When he wearies himself upon his high place, And comes to his sanctuary to pray, That he will not prevail.”
(16:13-14) POSTLUDE: SECOND PRONOUNCEMENT OF DEVASTATION
A. Introduction to the Second Oracle
“This is the word which the LORD spoke earlier concerning Moab. But now the LORD speaks, saying,”
Are we dealing with a different crisis [most commentators] or the same events but with the emphasis on the imminent timing [Motyer]??
B. Precise Timing of the Fulfillment
“Within three years, as a hired man would count them,”
Van Parunak: An indentured worker watches the calendar carefully, and does not work a day longer than the agreement. God’s promise of judgment will not linger past its appointed time.
Grogan: refers either to the contract of a laborer with his master (cf. Gen 29:18; Lev 25:50, 53) or to that of a mercenary soldier with his superior. In either case the point is the same, for the exact calculation of the period is important to the transaction. The prophetic ministry did not require any such timed predictions . . . Their fulfillment would, of course, provide additional clear evidence of their authenticity.
C. Extent of the Devastation
1. Glory Exchanged for Humiliation
“the glory of Moab will be degraded”
“along with all his great population,”
2. Significance Exchanged for Insignificance
“and his remnant will be very small”
What is our heart disposition towards the lost today? Too often our eyes are dry when they should be filled with tears.