Reading through the Bible together

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

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In this chapter, Isaiah explains another insight that he had been given by God.  From this revelation he describes the local “Executive Judgment” of God against the cities of Moab. From verse 9b, we know that these disasters against the Moabites were planned by the Lord to punish them for what they had done against Israel. The Moabites were descendants of Lot’s daughter by her father, and had seduced the Israelites into idolatry.

In the original language the verses in this chapter are broken into parts and the beginning letters or words of each are sometimes the same in order to give a rhythmic balance to the whole description. It is like careful planned poetry. Right in the middle of the whole “poem” is a very exceptional phrase that opens to us the heart of God while punishing: “My heart cries out for Moab” (verse 5a). Whether the disasters were those brought on them directly by God or allowed through other nations. One thing is clear, God is punishing and His heart is in pain by even having to allow it.

After mentioning the heartfelt agony of God while punishing the Moabites for their wrongs, Isaiah mentions various cities or places to be disciplined. (verses 1a-4d). These cities and places extend from the horn of the Dead Sea on the eastern side of the Kings Highway, then on to the north and back west. (We are speaking here of the general area where Andrews University did some extensive archeological research.) Moab cries out and his “soul trembles within him” (verse 4d).

At this point Isaiah adds additional insight and perspective to these serious tragedies, by moving again beyond earthly affairs to a heavenly emotional reaction: “My [God’s] heart cries out for Moab” (verse 5a). It is God in heaven who is emotionally drained because of people’s suffering due of course to their own deeds of idolatry following Satan’s deceptions.

More places and cities are named which takes us south of the Dead Sea and to places whose locations we do not really know, but they are probably more toward south of the King’s Highway (verse 5d). It is desolate there, the grass is withered, there is no green thing (verse 6b-c), and the stored food was carried away (verse 7b). A cry of distress has gone over the whole of Moab. Food stolen, human suffering, and the punitive actions of God are evident.  In verse 9b the Lord says “I will bring more upon their cities. Those who escape from Moab, lions will be upon them (verse 9c).

Dear God,
Moab and its people were idol worshipers and denied You as the Creator of the World. That is why You brought Your punitive measures against them. Help us not worship today’s idols, whatever they may be, and not lose our biblical insight and perspective. We are living in times when people emphasize inclusiveness and acceptance of sinful practices as the only right way.  Lord, help us to remain faithful. Amen.

Koot van Wyk
Kyungpook National University
Sangju, South Korea