The Hope of Moab's Salvation

16: 1-6

    DIG: To whom are the Moabites to send these lambs? What need prompts them to do so? What is their request of Judah? What hope is held out for them? How is this hope related to the prophecy in 11:1-5?

    REFLECT: Isaiah held out the Messiah as the only real hope for his hearers and readers. In what way is the reign of Jesus Christ the only real hope for people suffering in the world? How does His rule serve as a model for how believers ought to respond now towards the poor, the homeless, and the hungry?

    In the midst of the devastation coming on Moab, protection was found in Judah. Send lambs as tribute to the ruler of the land, from Sela, across the desert, to the mount of the Daughter of Zion (16:1). The hope of Moab’s salvation is that she would submit to Judah, the Daughter of Zion. The Moabites had now fled all the way south to strongholds in Edom such as Sela, about 50 miles south of Moab’s southern border. If they really wanted to be safe they would send lambs ahead as tribute. Paying tribute was a sign of submission. Moab had been under Jewish control, but in Second Kings 3:4-5 Moab rebelled. What Isaiah was telling Moab to do is to resubmit. If she would do that, her salvation would be assured. Isaiah could suggest this because he had already prophesied that Jerusalem would be spared from destruction by Assyria (10:24-34). Like fluttering birds pushed from the nest, so are the women of Moab at the fords of the Arnon (16:2). Frustrated, the women of Moab are described as wandering birds, flying here and there, not knowing what to do or where to go.

    ADONAI tells Moab that they are to request the counsel of Judah, and Judah is instructed to respond to Moab’s request. Give us counsel, render a decision. Make your shadow like night – at high noon. Hide the fugitives, do not betray the refugees (16:3). They are to hide the outcasts and the refugees. The people of God are instructed to obey Him if Moab would ask for protection. Let the Moabite fugitives stay with you; be their shelter from the destroyer (16:4a). And Isaiah makes a promise that if Moab obeys and submits to Judah, the oppressor will come to an end and destruction will cease; the aggressor will vanish from the land (16:4b).

    The basis for this promise is the future of the Davidic throne. In love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a man will sit on it – one from the house of David – one who in judging seeks justice and speeds the cause of righteousness (16:5). Judah has a throne with a future. Although Isaiah had been sent to prophesy to a nation in rebellion against God, and although the house of David would be reduced to a cut down stump as a result (11:1-5, 53:2), it was still superior to the Moabite dynasty. Moab had no future, but the house of David did. So Moab is invited to share in the Messianic hope with Judah. If they come, they will receive the best, the Messianic hope. Then Isaiah spells out the future of the Davidic throne. It will be established in grace; the Messiah will sit on the throne in truth. He will judge, He will seek justice, and He will do righteousness. The background to this verse is 9:6-7. So Isaiah has given Moab an offer of salvation, but Moab refuses.

    Moab’s pride and conceit will keep her from turning to Judah for help (Isaiah 25:10-11; Jeremiah 48:29 and Zephaniah 2:8-10). We have heard of Moab’s pride – her overwhelming pride and conceit, her pride and her insolence – but her boasts are empty (16:6). The people of Moab should have realized their helplessness before the Assyrians and turned to the LORD through their neighbor Judah, but they refused to do so. Because of their pride, confident that they did not need God, they would meet destruction. Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).

    Moab was famous for their vineyards, and they became the source of Moab’s pride. They got to a place where they relied on their accomplishments rather than relying on God. We need to learn this lesson today. There is no hope in our achievements. None of our accomplishments can save us. We may be justly proud of the things we have done, but if that is the source of our eternal hope, our hope is small indeed. Perhaps the pyramids of Egypt will endure to the end of time, but what do they tell us about their builders? Next to nothing. What happened to the kings buried there? Every last thing they intended to endure for eternity has been stripped away.

    It is the same for us, whose accomplishments are a lot less amazing than those ancient Egyptians. What will we leave behind? Everything! All our efforts to gain control of our environment, whether it is home, office or love of life will end with our death. Later, Isaiah will say: Why do you labor on what does not satisfy? Like the Moabites, we tend to look in all the wrong directions for our hope. Then, when our world falls apart, as fall apart it must, there is nothing left to do but wail for all that is lost. In this world the only certainty is death and loss.

    Our hope is not in our accomplishments but in His. In place of the world’s seemingly endless tears and loss, He has given joy and abundance. If we wait for a day yet to come to see Him enthroned in all His glory, we can still live our days here on earth with confidence and rest.51


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