God’s Plan for Moab

Posted: October 5, 2014 in Jeremiah

Jeremiah 48, "God’s Plan for Moab"

True or false: “The OT prophets spoke to the people of Israel.”  True.  “The OT prophets spoke ONLY to the people of Israel.”  False.  God had much to say not only to Israel, but to her neighbors.  Not only did God reveal Himself clearly to the His covenant people descended through Abraham, but He also revealed Himself many times to the surrounding nations – those with whom His people had often interacted.

Of course, God has ultimately revealed Himself to all the world through the witness of creation (external) and the witness of our conscience (internal).  But even in God’s special revelation within the pages of Scripture, God reached out to many of the nations surrounding Israel.  If we think about it, it makes perfect sense.  After all, although a people on the other side of planet earth would know of God only through creation & conscience (say, in China, or North America) – the people groups in the Mediterranean basin and Middle East would have a greater opportunity to actually see the Bible with their own eyes.  They interacted with the Jewish people, and would have had access to the Scriptures.  (I.e. the magi who came from the east to see the King of the Jews after Jesus’ birth.  They knew of Him through the OT prophecies, and likely the tradition of Daniel.)

Thus in the Bible, God spoke to nations other than Israel.  Ch. 46-51 of Jeremiah provides a perfect example.  In Ch. 46, God spoke to Egypt, describing their own coming tribulation at the hand of Babylon.  They would not be completely conquered, but they would be invaded, and their own people (along with the Jews who sought refuge there) would be carted off in captivity.  In Ch. 47, God spoke to the Philistines.  They would experience the noise and violence of war, and there would be no escape.

In Ch. 48, God turns His attention to Moab – giving the longest prophecy in this section, other than Babylon (Ch 50-51).  Moab had been incredibly prideful, and after their pride would come a great fall.

It wasn’t the first time that God had spoken of Moab’s coming judgment.  There are many parallels with Isaiah 15-16.  So much so, that it’s understandable to wonder whether or not the two prophets wrote about the same event.  Although there is much overlap (Jeremiah even quotes Isaiah at times), there are differences.  With Isaiah, there is a theme of devastation, but not total destruction and annihilation.  What Isaiah describes fits well with the historical invasion by Assyria in 715/713BC.  With Jeremiah, the description of devastation goes much further.  Historically, Moab survived Assyria, but not necessarily Babylon.  The ancient historian Josephus tells us that Babylon invaded and conquered Moab in the 23rd year of Nebuchadnezzar (582 BA).  And that is virtually the last we hear from them.  The Moabites disappear from the historical record at some point during the Persian empire.  The region was still known by some as “Moab,” but the people were entirely gone, having been replaced by Arabic tribes & others.  That God spoke accurately about their destruction is easily seen…the Moabites simply do not exist.  Today, the land is the kingdom of Jordan, with no trace of Moabite culture.

Early on, God had specifically warned of Moab’s destruction.  He did so by the hand of Moab’s own mercenary prophet, Balaam.  Hired by Moab’s king Balak for the purpose of cursing Israel, Balaam was constrained by God and only allowed to do the opposite.  After blessing Israel three times, Balaam took up another prophecy and saw the future coming of the Lord Jesus: Numbers 24:17, "I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel, And batter the brow of Moab, And destroy all the sons of tumult."
[]  THAT was the future that Moab had in store for them: the judgment of God.  They would be battered, and ultimately destroyed.

That’s not to say that God had nothing but judgment in mind for Moab.  In His grace, the people of Moab are even introduced into the family tree of Jesus.  Ruth (wife of Boaz, the great-grandfather of David) was of Moab – brought back to the land of Israel when she committed herself to staying with Naomi & the God of Naomi.  God wants ALL nations to know His grace and salvation – that is at the very heart of the gospel we proclaim.

That said, some nations (and people) persistently reject God.  They build themselves up in their pride, worship the gods of their own hands and imaginations, and think themselves invincible.  Sadly, it normally takes a massive tragedy to prove to them otherwise.  That is what God needed to bring upon Moab.

God is above all nations.  God has revealed Himself to all nations.  God weeps over the destruction of sinners in all nations.  God calls all nations to repent.  God gave Jesus, Who is the Hope of all nations.

Jeremiah 48
1 Against Moab. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: …

  • First things first: where on earth is Moab? J [MAPS]  Moab is on the east of Judah, on the opposite shore of the Dead Sea.  Its borders varied from time to time.  When Israel first went into the Promised Land, the tribe of Reuben had remained on the east side of the Jordan river, and they encompassed some of the cities that are mentioned in Ch. 48.  Eventually, Moab took control of those northern lands, as the tribe of Reuben faded.  In modern times, the land of Moab is completely contained within the kingdom of Jordan.
  • Moab had been a historical enemy of Israel, though Israel was initially forbidden by God from fighting against them (Deut 2:9).  Moab and Israel shared a common family history going back to the days of Abraham and Lot.  Moab is descended by Lot (after Lot was rescued from the destruction of Sodom), and although Moab did not extend the same courtesy to Israel, Israel initially honored the Lord’s command.  It was not until the days of the judges that God allowed Israel to fight Moab, and when He did, God delivered Moab into Israel’s hands via Ehud the judge (Jdg 3:28).  This kind of back & forth would continue throughout the judges and kings, right up until the Babylonian captivity.  That’s when God would put an end to Moab, once and for all.
  • Who was it that spoke “against Moab”? “The LORD of hosts, the God of Israel.”  The God that Moab had so often mocked when they mocked the Israelites – the God that Moab had spurned when they rejected the prophecies of Balaam – THAT God was speaking to them.  The “God of Israel” was the God of Abraham, and the God of Lot, and thus the Lord was the God that Moab ought to have been worshipping all along!  Of course, God is God over all the earth, and ALL peoples everywhere ought to worship Him.  But Moab had less excuse than most.  Like the nation of Egypt, who had God demonstrated before their very eyes in powerful ways during the plagues of Moses, so did Moab have the power of God demonstrated before them.  They were witness to how God led the Israelites through the wilderness (which included part of their lands!), and how God provided for the Israelites through the years of the kingdom.  They had regular interactions with the people of God, and thus they had no excuse for their refusal to worship God.  They knew better, and the God of the Universe would hold them accountable for it.
    • That’s true whether we’re talking of Moab or any other nation.  When it comes to sin, ultimately we KNOW better.  Every culture around the world knows that lying is wrong.  They might provide some exceptions, but there is no culture in which is it always acceptable (especially if someone lies against YOU).  The same goes for any number of sins.  There are some things that are just universally wrong.  Likewise, there are some things that are universally evident: i.e., the existence of the universe, thus the existence of a God who created the universe.  Ultimately we KNOW better than to engage in sin, yet we do it anyway.  God has left us without excuse.
    • Thankfully, God has also left us with a Savior.  The whole world has sinned, but Jesus died for the whole world…to the praise of God’s glory.  But here’s the thing: people know about their own sin; they don’t necessarily know about the Savior who is available to them.  We need to tell them.  We need to tell them about Jesus, who Himself IS the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel.  Only when they know His name can they turn to Him and be saved.
  • Prepare for judgment…run!  (vss. 1-10)

… “Woe to Nebo! For it is plundered, Kirjathaim is shamed and taken; The high stronghold is shamed and dismayed— 2 No more praise of Moab. In Heshbon they have devised evil against her: ‘Come, and let us cut her off as a nation.’ You also shall be cut down, O Madmen! The sword shall pursue you; 3 A voice of crying shall be from Horonaim: ‘Plundering and great destruction!’

  • We’re going to see a bunch of names and locations that we do not recognize – and it can be easy to get kind of lost as a result.  Scholars have general ideas of the locations of some of these places, but not all. 
  • But this is what we need to remember: although WE do not know these names, the original readers of this prophecy did.  These were locations that were near & dear to them.  It would be like us reading a list of cities like Jacksonville, Bullard, Tyler, Lindale, Mineola, etc.  These are places were friends and families live…just as it would be likewise for the ancient people of Moab.  They would be reading of the coming “plundering and great destruction” of their home, and the awful cries from the people whom they loved.  Try to put yourself in their shoes, and imagine the horror of what they would have experienced.

4 “Moab is destroyed; Her little ones have caused a cry to be heard; 5 For in the Ascent of Luhith they ascend with continual weeping; For in the descent of Horonaim the enemies have heard a cry of destruction.

  • The idea here is one of “continual weeping.”  The wailing of those who have endured the war rises up and down throughout the land, be it on the ascents or descents.  Wherever someone travelled along the king’s highway (a common trade route), they would hear the wail of mourning and grief.
  • The Moabites may be Gentile enemies of Israel, but enemies still weep.  Enemies still feel pain and grief.  This is something that we can sometimes forget.  When soldiers go off to war, there are grieving families on both sides of the battle lines.  It doesn’t make the sinful actions of the enemy justified, but their grief is very real and legitimate.  They still experience the consequences of their sin, and it always hurts.
    • This is one reason it’s so important even to pray for our enemies.  Everyone will pray for their friends and their allies – but Jesus calls us to a higher standard as Christians.  Those who are citizens in the Kingdom of Heaven do more than pray for those of their same nationality & like-minded cause – we love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us, and bless those who curse us (Mt 6:44).  Why?  Because prayerfully one day our enemies won’t always be our enemies, but our brothers and sisters in Christ.

6 “Flee, save your lives! And be like the juniper in the wilderness. 7 For because you have trusted in your works and your treasures, You also shall be taken. And Chemosh shall go forth into captivity, His priests and his princes together. 8 And the plunderer shall come against every city; No one shall escape. The valley also shall perish, And the plain shall be destroyed, As the LORD has spoken.

  • God warns them to “flee” the cities targeted for destruction – to go out to the “wilderness” like a “juniper” tree and find some grain of safety there.  To stay in the cities in a vain attempt to defend themselves against the Babylonians would only mean their death.
  • Why would they be destroyed?  God gives a clear reason in vs. 7: “because you have trusted in your works and your treasures.”  IOW, they trusted in themselves, rather than in God.  They trusted in the things that they could do, and the ways that they could provide for themselves.  Instead of realizing that they were dependent upon the True God for their lives (indeed, the very air that they breathed), they trusted in themselves, their efforts, and their imaginations.
    • This is the same sin we see every day: self-righteousness.  No doubt they were a proud people (and their pride will be specifically condemned later on), but they also had a supreme trust in themselves.  A person who trusts his/her own efforts at righteousness will always fall into destruction.  Or to put it another way: no one can save themselves; we need to be saved.  If it were possible for someone to work hard enough, or be a good enough person to somehow earn their way to heaven, then Jesus would never have come.  God gave His only begotten Son for us precisely because we cannot save ourselves.  Nothing we have and nothing we can do will ever wipe away the stain of our sin.  That only comes through Jesus.  The Moabites trusted in themselves, so they would be taken in judgment.  The way to be delivered from judgment is to realize that we cannot save ourselves; we must be saved – and the One who saves us is the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Notice who/what would go into captivity: “Chemosh.” This was the name of Moab’s national god.  The cultural mindset at the time was that when cities and nations fell in battle, it meant that the “god” who supposedly protected them also fell in battle.  And just like people could be taken into captivity, so could the false god (in the form of a physical idol).  The statue would be carted off and destroyed, and it would be symbolic of the protection being taken away from the people, as they saw their “god” as much enslaved as they were.
    • If a god can be captured, then it isn’t much of a “god,” is it?  “Gods” that are manipulated by men are borne out of the imaginations of men.  They are false idols, and nothing more – other than perhaps demonic deceptions in some cases.  Either way, they are not truly God.  For God to be God, He must be all-powerful (omnipotent).  All things are possible for the True God, and He certainly cannot be taken captive or be destroyed by any mere mortal man.
    • Question: if that’s the case, then what does all of that say about the defeat and captivity of Israel and Judah?  Did the real God somehow fail – did He show Himself impotent?  Certainly not!  The defeat of Israel and Judah was not due to God’s lack of ability, but it was a demonstration of His full ability.  God did not merely command the armies of Israel, but He commands the armies of all the world.  God is God over every nation, whether those nations recognize Him or not.  When Israel and Judah fell, it’s because GOD was the One who raised up another nation to conquer them.  When Israel and Judah fell, they fell as nations who had turned away from the One True God, and thus God was working against them.  Our God can never be defeated…ever!
    • All of this points to one other problem for Moab: false religion.  Not only had they trusted in themselves (and their own works), but they trusted in false religion.  That failed them as much as anything else did.  Sometimes people get the idea that it doesn’t really matter how you worship God – just be a good person, and try to please your own idea of “God” in your own way, and you’ll be alright.  Not so!  The Bible tells us something very different.  There is a true God, and He rightly deserves to be worshipped.  If we’re not worshiping Him, then we’re worshipping something false.  That false worship will do us no good.  As Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (Jn 14:6)  We have to believe, and to believe rightly.

9 “Give wings to Moab, That she may flee and get away; For her cities shall be desolate, Without any to dwell in them. 10 Cursed is he who does the work of the LORD deceitfully, And cursed is he who keeps back his sword from blood.

  • Again, there is the idea of fleeing and escape.  The people were repeatedly warned by God to leave the cities, because the destruction would be massive.
  • Question: what does Jeremiah mean in vs. 10?  Who in Moab would actually be doing “the work of the LORD,” much less doing it “deceitfully”?  The rest of the verse provides some context and clues for interpretation.  There is a curse proclaimed upon those who keep back their sword – thus, it’s the use of the sword that is the work of God.  Remember, it is God who proclaims judgment upon Moab.  He has raised up the Babylonians as His servants to be His instruments at this time.  The idea is that if they restrain from using their sword in judgment, they are being unfaithful to the Lord.  Although it was the army of Babylon who came into destroy Moab, ultimately, this was the determined work and will of God.  God declared it to be done, and it must be accomplished.
  • Moab’s strength is gone (vss. 11-25)

11 “Moab has been at ease from his youth; He has settled on his dregs, And has not been emptied from vessel to vessel, Nor has he gone into captivity. Therefore his taste remained in him, And his scent has not changed. 12 “Therefore behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “That I shall send him wine-workers Who will tip him over And empty his vessels And break the bottles.

  • If we were winemakers, this word-picture would be very familiar to us.  Moab happened to be known for their vineyards, so this would have been familiar to them.  In the process of making wine, after the juice is squeezed out of the grape, it’s placed into a jar where it is allowed to ferment.  Over time, bits & pieces of the grape & fermentation byproduct settle at the bottom of the jar/barrel – those are the “dregs.”  Part of the art of winemaking is to let the wine ferment long enough to achieve the desired taste, and then very carefully separate the liquid wine from the dregs.  God carries this analogy over to the Moabites.  Unlike other nations, Moab had things relatively easy & undisturbed (like a barrel allowing wine to ferment).  Things progressed as normal for them as a nation, even after being conquered by the Assyrians, and their ways had not changed (“his taste remained in him”).  But all of that was about to change.  Instead of being treated with gentleness, they would experience violence.  They would be tipped over harshly and broken.  They would experience destruction on a scaled that they had not yet known.
  • Destruction can come to a people suddenly…even if they have been abundantly warned of it.  Jesus taught of a similar thing that will happen during the Great Tribulation.  During that time, the world will be abundantly aware of the judgments of God (they will be impossible to ignore!), but they will still be unprepared for the arrival of Jesus Christ.  Instead of watching and making themselves ready through humility and repentance, they will be eating and drinking, marrying & giving away in marriage, just as in the days of Noah.  But just like Noah, that is when the floods came – and likewise, that will be the case at the coming of Jesus.  Thus people are warned.  Matthew 24:42–44, "(42) Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. (43) But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. (44) Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." []
    • How can we know we are ready to see the Lord?  By receiving Him as our Lord and Savior today!  If we are in Christ now, we need not fear see Him later.

13 Moab shall be ashamed of Chemosh, As the house of Israel was ashamed of Bethel, their confidence.

  • Chemosh” is mentioned again – this time in relation to “Bethel.”  What had been at Bethel?  The sin of Jeroboam – the two golden calves that King Jeroboam made for the northern kingdom of Israel that caused the whole nation to repeatedly fall into idolatry.  Those golden calves had not saved Israel from the Assyrian armies; the idol of Chemosh would not save Moab from the Babylonian armies.  Moab would experience what Israel had: a rude awakening of the emptiness of idolatry and false religion.

14 “How can you say, ‘We are mighty And strong men for the war’? 15 Moab is plundered and gone up from her cities; Her chosen young men have gone down to the slaughter,” says the King, Whose name is the LORD of hosts.

  • We can almost hear the surprise and incredulity in the voice of God here. How could Moab possibly boast in its strength?  It was about to be completely overrun.  Indeed, God refers to their destruction in the past tense.  In His mind, they were already “plundered…and gond down to the slaughter.”  The “LORD of hosts” is infinitely stronger than the puny strength of Moab (and their puny “god”) – the Moabites had nothing in which to boast.  The King of the Universe had declared their destruction, and they would be destroyed.
  • Notice God is their “King,” whether they recognize Him or not.  Truth is truth, no matter whether or not we want to recognize it.  If we jump off a bridge, we WILL fall – regardless if we disagree with the idea of gravity.  If we shoot a gun, a bullet WILL go out (and someone might easily die) – regardless if we want to believe we are invincible.  Truth is simply truth, no matter what.  That’s the way it is with God.  People may want to believe in other gods and other religions, but it doesn’t change the truth that God is God.  He IS the King, and not a thing in the world will change that.
    • The truly amazing thing is that this King still reached out to us to save us!  We did not deserve any such grace, but that is exactly what He extends to all the world…including Moab.  Their problem is that they refused to recognize His outreach to them.

16 “The calamity of Moab is near at hand, And his affliction comes quickly. 17 Bemoan him, all you who are around him; And all you who know his name, Say, ‘How the strong staff is broken, The beautiful rod!’

  • There wasn’t much time left.  We’re not told exactly when Jeremiah gave this prophecy, but many scholars believe that it was in the days of King Jehoiakim, after a time which Moab joined with Babylon and others to raid Judah (2 Kings 24:2).  If so, Moab was on Babylon’s “good side” for the moment, but it wouldn’t last long.  After Jerusalem fell, Babylon would extend its reach elsewhere.  And when Babylon came, the battle would upon them suddenly.  Even the neighbors surrounding Moab would see how quickly and violently they would fall & be “broken.

18 “O daughter inhabiting Dibon, Come down from your glory, And sit in thirst; For the plunderer of Moab has come against you, He has destroyed your strongholds. 19 O inhabitant of Aroer, Stand by the way and watch; Ask him who flees And her who escapes; Say, ‘What has happened?’ 20 Moab is shamed, for he is broken down. Wail and cry! Tell it in Arnon, that Moab is plundered.
21 “And judgment has come on the plain country: On Holon and Jahzah and Mephaath, 22 On Dibon and Nebo and Beth Diblathaim, 23 On Kirjathaim and Beth Gamul and Beth Meon, 24 On Kerioth and Bozrah, On all the cities of the land of Moab, Far or near. 25 The horn of Moab is cut off, And his arm is broken,” says the LORD.

  • Again, another list of cities is given…somewhat travelling from south to north. [MAP]  Almost picturesque of how the Babylonian armies may have gone through the land conquering city after city.  Ultimately the sequence of the cities isn’t all that important, but they fact that they fell.  This was the best that Moab had to offer in battle, and it wasn’t enough.  Their strength was gone.  Biblically, “horns” were often symbols of power, as were “arms.”  Both were broken for Moab.  They had no way to defend themselves against the might of Babylon (and ultimately against the power of God).
  • Moab’s humiliation is come (vss. 26-39)

26 “Make him drunk, Because he exalted himself against the LORD. Moab shall wallow in his vomit, And he shall also be in derision. 27 For was not Israel a derision to you? Was he found among thieves? For whenever you speak of him, You shake your head in scorn.

  • Moab had mocked Israel, and now it would come back around to them.  Like a humiliated drunk in the streets, so would Moab be humiliated among the people.
  • Specifically, this would come “because he exalted himself against the LORD.”  Contextually, that comes with their “derision” of Israel.  Israel may have deserved its punishment from the Lord, but they were still God’s people.  To mock and scorn God’s people is something that God takes personally.  This goes all the way back to God’s covenant with Abraham.  Genesis 12:3, "I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." []  Israel was unfaithful to God, but God was never unfaithful to Israel.  He would rise up in her defense, even when she never deserved Him to do so.  (Praise God for His faithfulness to every promise!)

28 You who dwell in Moab, Leave the cities and dwell in the rock, And be like the dove which makes her nest In the sides of the cave’s mouth.

  • IOW – run for the hills.  Leave the cities, and go to the caves.  Just like doves sometimes nest in caves, so should the Moabites find their refuge there.  Interestingly enough, the rock city of Petra (made famous in the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”) is not too far from Moab.  Technically, it lay beyond their borders to the south in Edom (which will have its own prophecy of judgment in Ch. 49).  It’s easy to imagine the Moabites fleeing south away from the Babylonians, trying to find refuge wherever they could.  Petra itself would not be built for another 150-200 years (by the Nabateans), but obviously the caves and caverns all still existed.  The Moabites just needed to find some safe haven…anywhere but where they were.

29 “We have heard the pride of Moab (He is exceedingly proud), Of his loftiness and arrogance and pride, And of the haughtiness of his heart.”

  • Moab’s pride was famous, and it was another reason they were specifically condemned by God.  They had exalted themselves against God, and against His people, thinking that they could never fail – and they were about to find out what happens to the proud.  As the proverbs declare, “pride goes before destruction” (Prov 16:18), and that’s true whether someone is Jew or Gentile.  Those who are prideful will be cast down, but it is the humble that will be exalted.
  • What is the #1 thing that keeps men and women from Jesus today?  Pride.  They are too proud that they need forgiveness and salvation.  They are too proud to admit that they are sinful people, and that God is righteous.  To be sure, the people who follow God are not always the best examples – but that’s not an excuse.  If someone refuses to place their faith in Jesus, it’s because they made the conscious decision not to do so.  They determined in their heart that they don’t need Him, or His forgiveness.  That’s pride.  Pride caused the devil to say that he no longer needed God, and he was cast out of heaven.  Pride caused Adam and Eve to think that they could be like God, and they were cast out of the garden.  Today, pride causes many to think that they don’t need God or that God doesn’t even exist…they’ve exalted themselves above God in their own minds.  It’s prideful, and it will be the cause of their eternal downfall and destruction.
    • Yet here’s the thing about pride: it can always be cast away.  No one has to remain proud and rebellious against God.  Someone can humble his/her heart at any time before the Lord, and ask to be forgiven.  And the glorious good news is that Jesus will give it!  Don’t remain proud against Jesus – if that’s you, humble yourself today.

30 “I know his wrath,” says the LORD, “But it is not right; His lies have made nothing right. 31 Therefore I will wail for Moab, And I will cry out for all Moab; I will mourn for the men of Kir Heres. 32 O vine of Sibmah! I will weep for you with the weeping of Jazer. Your plants have gone over the sea, They reach to the sea of Jazer. The plunderer has fallen on your summer fruit and your vintage.

  • Can you hear the weeping?  Keep in mind that this is the Lord God speaking!  GOD weeps for these people…for these Gentiles.  They were rebellious – they were proud – they had come against His own special people – they had rejected the clear witness of God – and yet, God still did not desire this judgment that He would bring upon them.  He would do it, no doubt.  He had willed it & determined it.  But that doesn’t mean that He was happy about it.  God did what He had to do, and apparently it broke His heart.  Just as Jesus would later weep over rebellious Jerusalem, so did God lift up a wail for Moab.  God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Eze 33:11), be it Jew or Gentile.  God would much rather that people humble themselves and turn in repentance, so that they would live and experience what God intended for them to experience from the moment of their creation by Him.  Remember that God knows us all by name – He has the very numbers of our hairs counted.  There is not a single human being born whom God did not knit together in his/her mothers’ womb.  Why would God desire anyone to perish?  He doesn’t!  He wants people to be saved.  No matter where they live, or what culture they come from, God’s firm desire is that people would know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and that they ALL become His children.
  • Don’t ever forget this.  It’s easy to lose sight of this when reading so much from the OT prophets.  There’s so much said of God’s anger and judgment (righteous & deserved) that we can sometimes think that God might enjoy doing it.  He doesn’t.  There’s not a single human being in hell whom God would not have preferred to have in heaven.  God loves people, and He wants people to be saved.  (And He wants US to tell them how to BE saved!)

33 Joy and gladness are taken From the plentiful field And from the land of Moab; I have caused wine to fail from the winepresses; No one will tread with joyous shouting— Not joyous shouting! 34 “From the cry of Heshbon to Elealeh and to Jahaz They have uttered their voice, From Zoar to Horonaim, Like a three-year-old heifer; For the waters of Nimrim also shall be desolate.

  • Again, there is a picture of the mourning of the nation as the Babylonians sweep through the land.  There is no more “joy and gladness” – only weeping and wailing (much as God did on their behalf). 
  • BTW – “three-year-old heifer” might not need to be translated.  Some Bible translations leave it as it is, in that it’s possible that this is a name of a town; not an animal.  Contextually, that seems to make more sense with the listing of other towns and locations.

35 “Moreover,” says the LORD, “I will cause to cease in Moab The one who offers sacrifices in the high places And burns incense to his gods.

  • Finally after all this time, there will be an end to the idolatrous worship of Moab.  No doubt, they would be replaced by other idol-worshippers, but the people of Moab themselves would no longer do it.  They had rejected the witness of God before them, and thus God had finally rejected them.

36 Therefore My heart shall wail like flutes for Moab, And like flutes My heart shall wail For the men of Kir Heres. Therefore the riches they have acquired have perished. 37 “For every head shall be bald, and every beard clipped; On all the hands shall be cuts, and on the loins sackcloth— 38 A general lamentation On all the housetops of Moab, And in its streets; For I have broken Moab like a vessel in which is no pleasure,” says the LORD. 39 “They shall wail: ‘How she is broken down! How Moab has turned her back with shame!’ So Moab shall be a derision And a dismay to all those about her.”

  • The humiliation of Moab is vividly pictured.  There’s more wailing from the Lord – there is public mourning among the people (baldness, cuts, sackcloth).  God had mourned over them, but He still broke them…that is what He had no other choice to do.  And the people surrounding them recognized it.  All their neighbors would see how low Moab had been brought.  Moab had never been a powerhouse of a nation, nor had they ever expanded an empire – but they certainly would be used as an example.  Just as Israel had become an example to the surrounding nations of a people judged by God, so would Moab.
  • Moab will be taken captive (vss. 40-46)

40 For thus says the LORD: “Behold, one shall fly like an eagle, And spread his wings over Moab. 41 Kerioth is taken, And the strongholds are surprised; The mighty men’s hearts in Moab on that day shall be Like the heart of a woman in birth pangs.

  • The “eagle” is likely a reference to Nebuchadnezzar.  Ezekiel uses the same imagery when teaching a parable of Babylon (Eze 17).  The idea is that just as a bird stretches out a giant wingspan covering a great amount of territory, so would Babylon do with Moab.  The tiny nation would fall to the might of the mighty eagle raised up by God.  They would be completely overpowered, and the hearts of men would fail.

42 And Moab shall be destroyed as a people, Because he exalted himself against the LORD.

  • What will be the extent of Babylon’s war with Moab?  Total annihilation.  “Moab shall be destroyed as a people.”  Again, this is a distinction between the prophecies of Jeremiah and Isaiah.  Isaiah writes of Moabite cities being destroyed, but not the total people.  If there was wailing before in Moab with the arrival of the Assyrians, there would be even more with the Babylonians.  The people themselves would be destroyed – wiped away from the face of the earth.  In the grace of God, the Babylonians at least left a remnant of Jews to tend Jerusalem, and beyond that, the people would endure even during the days of their captivity.  Not so with Moab.  Once the people were destroyed, they were utterly destroyed – wiped from the face of the earth.
  • Again – why?  Pride.  “Because he exalted himself against the LORD.”  BEWARE PRIDE.  Pride kills.

43 Fear and the pit and the snare shall be upon you, O inhabitant of Moab,” says the LORD. 44 “He who flees from the fear shall fall into the pit, And he who gets out of the pit shall be caught in the snare. For upon Moab, upon it I will bring The year of their punishment,” says the LORD.

  • There would be no escape.  God told the people to flee the whole land – if they didn’t, they would face the wrath of Babylon, “the fear.”  God had determined the exact time for their judgment (“the year of their punishment”), and there would be no getting around it.
  • We’ve seen it many times before – there is no escaping the judgment of God.  People WILL one day face the Lord.  NOW is the time He has graciously given us to be ready.  Don’t waste your time or opportunity to do so.
    • At the same time, those of us who DO know the Lord need to be telling others of their need to get ready to see Jesus.  Jeremiah was faithful to warn even the nations that were not his own.  Are we faithful to tell our friends and neighbors?

45 “Those who fled stood under the shadow of Heshbon Because of exhaustion. But a fire shall come out of Heshbon, A flame from the midst of Sihon, And shall devour the brow of Moab, The crown of the head of the sons of tumult. 46 Woe to you, O Moab! The people of Chemosh perish; For your sons have been taken captive, And your daughters captive.

  • If there were any question what it was all leading to, God finally tells them directly of their captivity.  Just as Jerusalem and the nation of Judah were carted of captive, so would Moab.  They would be enslaved, and (unlike the Jews) they would never see the light of freedom again…at least not in this age.
  • Moab’s hope of mercy (vs. 47)

47 “Yet I will bring back the captives of Moab In the latter days,” says the LORD. Thus far is the judgment of Moab.

  • After all of the prophecy of judgment and destruction, there is a gleam of hope at the end.  The people would indeed be destroyed – they would fall off the face of history.  Everything God proclaimed about them up to this point has proven historically true.  Yet even in this, it is not the total end.  There is still a future in mind for them by the Lord.  It will come “in the latter days” – a reference to the Millennial Kingdom.  After Jesus returns in power and glory at the end of the age, He will set up a literal kingdom on earth for 1000 years.  During that time, the kingdom of Israel will be fully restored, with Jesus properly on its throne, and the nations of the world will come to worship Him there.  One of those nations?  Moab.  It’s interesting that when we look at the distribution of land for Israel during the Millennial times (as seen in the book of Ezekiel), one area that is NOT included for Israel is the land historically known as Moab. [MAP3]  There are definitely different interpretations for what exactly God means in vs. 47 – perhaps Moab being a reference to Gentiles coming to Christ in the latter days.  But at the very least, God extends hope once more.  They were a people proclaimed to be judged, but they still had the opportunity to live in the grace and mercy of God.  All they needed to do was wait upon Him and respond in faith.

God revealed Himself to this enemy of Israel.  He showed Himself in His power and judgment, but He also showed Himself in His compassionate mercies.  God would bring the Babylonians harshly upon the proud Moabites, tip them over, and break them of their strength.  But He would also join in the weeping, and He held out hope for their future.  Even in the judgment of God, we see His love clearly demonstrated.

Don’t let pride keep you from experiencing the mercies of God.  Pride is an evil disease, and it kills…every time.  Pride will send people to eternal death and separation from God, and that’s not what God desires for you.  God made you, God loves you, and God wants you to be saved.  He made every provision for you that you could be saved.  Now you need to respond.

Even for Christians, our pride can trip us up.  We can think that we’re the only people in the world that God cares about, and we start losing our love for the lost and compassion for those who don’t yet know Jesus.  We can forget to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.  We can get downright lazy, and not take the love of Jesus to those who desperately need to hear it.  May we follow in the example of Jeremiah, and allow the word of God to burn a fire in our bones to where we have to let it out – even among a people who may not want to hear.


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