THE FOUR CORNERS OF THE COMPASS ALL DESTINED FOR JUDGMENT BECAUSE OF THEIR ARROGANCE AGAINST THE ONE TRUE GOD AND HIS BELOVED PEOPLE
People think that basketball guru Coach Dean Smith of the University of North Carolina invented the four corner offense. But the Lord was way ahead of him. Here we see the Divine Judgment Decreed Against All of Judah’s Enemies – encompassing the Four Corners of the Earth
MacArthur: God used the heathen nations to punish His people, but He would not permit those nations to go unpunished. To illustrate this, 4 representative nations were chosen from the 4 points of the compass.
I. (2:4-7) JUDGMENT AGAINST PHILISTIA – WEST OF ISRAEL
A. (:4) Major Cities Destroyed
1. Gaza – “For Gaza will be abandoned”
2. Ashkelon – “And Ashkelon a desolation”
3. Ashdod – “Ashdod will be driven out at noon”
Baker: possibly referring to the sudden unexpectedness of its defeat in the soporific heat of the day . . . or to the force of the attack which would prevail in only half a day.
4. Ekron – “And Ekron will be uprooted”
MacArthur: Judgment was to come swiftly and unexpectedly, even at noonday when it was least expected. Of the 5 Philistine cities, only Gath was omitted (cf. Am 1:6-8).
Baker: The four principal Philistine cities are warned of impending destruction. The presentation of the first and last involves alliteration, word play based on the consonantal sounds used. The four city-states are presented progressively from south to north.
B. (:5-7) Land Reserved for Remnant of Judah
1. (:5) Enemy Wiped Out
“Woe to the inhabitants of the seacoast,
The nation of the Cherethites!
The word of the Lord is against you,
O Canaan, land of the Philistines;
And I will destroy you so that there will be no inhabitant.”
Hanke: A people occupying the southern coast of the Philistine country (see I Sam 30:14; Ezk 25:16). The LXX renders this word Cretans (Amos 9:7; Deut 2:23). The Cherethites were probably related to the Philistines and were immigrants from Crete. All of the Philistine coast would feel the wrath of God. No inhabitants would be left; all would be killed or carried into captivity. The invader would be no respecter of persons.
2. (:6-7) Remnant Restored to the Land
“So the seacoast will be pastures,
With caves for shepherds and folds for flocks.
And the coast will be for the remnant of the house of Judah,
They will pasture on it.
In the houses of Ashkelon they will lie down at evening;
For the Lord their God will care for them and restore their fortune.”
Baker: The remnant here (cf. 1:4; 2:9; 3:13), the refugees from God’s punishment, are a symbol of hope for Israel, since the promised judgment will not be total. The motif of the remnant is common in the prophets (cf. Je. 23:3; Am. 5:15; Mi. 2:12; 5:7-8), exemplifying both the severity of God’s punishment and also the graciousness of his mercy. Destruction will come, but not annihilation.
II. (2:8-11) JUDGMENT AGAINST MOABITES AND AMMONITES – EAST OF ISRAEL
A. (:8) Arrogance Denounced As Offensive to God
1. Arrogance of Moabites and Ammonites Noted
a. Of Moabites
“I have heard the taunting of Moab”
b. Of Ammonites
“and the revilings of the sons of Ammon, “
2. Arrogance Directed Against God’s People and God’s Land
a. Against God’s People
“With which they have taunted My people”
b. Against God’s Land
“And become arrogant against their territory.”
B. (:9) Judgment Described in Impressive Terms
1. Guaranteed by God Himself
“’Therefore, as I live,’
declares the Lord of hosts,
The God of Israel”
2. Compared to Devastation of Sodom and Gomorrah
“Surely Moab will be like Sodom
And the sons of Ammon like Gomorrah –
A place possessed by nettles and salt pits,
And a perpetual desolation.”
Baker: The comparison is deliberately chosen, since the progenitors of the Moabite and Ammonite peoples were incestuously conceived in the next biblical episode after that of the destruction of the two cities (Gn. 19:30-38).
Feinberg: Salt is used in the Old Testament as a figure for sterility and ruin (Job 39:6). This portion of shame and reproach shall they have because of their pride which led them to reproach Israel and magnify themselves against the chosen of the Lord. The nations are exceedingly dull in learning how greatly they displease the Lord when they deal in pride against the nation whom He has chosen as His medium for worldwide blessing.
3. Heightened by the Reversal of Fortunes for God’s People
“The remnant of My people will plunder them
And the remainder of My nation will inherit them.”
C. (:10) Payment Deserved for Pride and Arrogance
“This they will have in return for their pride,
because they have taunted and become arrogant
against the people of the Lord of hosts.”
D. (:11) Dominion Demanded via Universal Worship
“The Lord will be terrifying to them,
For He will starve all the gods of the earth;
And all the coastlands of the nations will bow down to Him,
Everyone from his own place.”
Freeman: the meaning here seems to be that one day worshipers will no longer be found to offer sacrifices unto the heathen gods, who will, from lack of devotees, pass away. . . In the day of the Lord idolatry will be abolished, and the true God of Israel will be universally acknowledged and worshiped.
Baker: There is a structural parallel at the close of each half of the verse (see AV, RSV), in which the totality (“all”) of the doomed gods are in contrast with the universal (“all”) extent of the worship of the true God.
III. (2:12) JUDGMENT AGAINST ETHIOPIA – SOUTH OF ISRAEL
“You also, O Ethiopians, will be slain by My sword.”
IV. (2:13-15) JUDGMENT AGAINST ASSYRIA – NORTH OF ISRAEL
A. (:13) Fruitful Irrigation Replaced with Parched Desolation
“And He will stretch out His hand against the north
And destroy Assyria,
And He will make Nineveh a desolation,
Parched like the wilderness.”
B. (:14) Dominion of Assyrians Replaced with Refuge for Beasts and Birds
“Flocks will lie down in her midst,
All beasts which range in herds;
Both the pelican and the hedgehog will lodge in the tops of her pillars;
Birds will sing in the window,
Desolation will be on the threshold;
For He has laid bare the cedar work.”
Baker: This sort of abandonment to nature is not uncommon for those who oppose God (cf. Is. 13:19-22; 34:11-15; Je. 50:39).
C. (:15) Self Confidence Replaced with Contempt
“This is the exultant city which dwells securely,
Who says in her heart,
‘I am, and there is no one besides me.’
How she has become a desolation, a resting place for beasts!
Everyone who passes by her will hiss and wave his hand in contempt.”