The Book of Isaiah
GOD’S JUDGMENT UPON MOAB
1. These two chapters predict the destruction of Israel’s neighbor Moab. Moab was situated to the north of Edom and the south of Ammon, and was bounded on the west by the Dead Sea, and on the east by the Arabian desert (see MAP 3 in Scofield Bible).
2. Moab figures prominently in the OT. The word “Moab” is found 168 times in 151 verses.
3. The Moabites were descended from Abraham’s nephew Lot, so they were related to the Israelites.
4. They were the product of Lot’s incestuous union with his elder daughter (cf. Genesis 19:30-38).
5. This reminds us of the Biblical principle: “for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7), because the Moabites often caused trouble for the Israelites (cf. Num. 25:1-5).
6. That is why God said, “An Ammonite (descended from Lot’s incestuous relationship with his younger daughter) or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever” (Deut. 23:3).
7. The great Bible teacher, HA Ironside, said that Moab “might picture for us those who make a profession of being children of God while actually with no legitimate claim to that name. In other words, Moab may represent to us the easy-going religious profession with which many are contented who fail to recognize the importance of the new birth. Generally speaking, Moab was somewhat friendly toward Israel but when the nation was first passing through their borders on the way to their inheritance in the Promised Land, Balak was fearful of being destroyed by them and so hired Balaam, the son of Beor, to curse them, but as we know, God turned the curse into a blessing. The book of Ruth tells us of the visit of Elimelech and his family to Moab in the time of famine and the unhappy results of that period of sojourn. When David was pursued by Saul he took his parents to the country of Moab and put them under the protection of its king, but as the years went on Moab, like Edom, became an enemy of Israel, for no matter how friendly religious professors may seem to be at times to the true children of God, the day always comes when they resent what seems to them to be the assumed superiority of those who really know the Lord. So from time to time we find Moab allied with the enemies of Israel and Judah” (Isaiah).
I. THE PLIGHT OF MOAB
II. THE PLEA OF MOAB
III. THE PRIDE OF MOAB
I. THE PLIGHT OF MOAB (15:1-9).
1. Isaiah 15 tells us the plight of Moab. Within three short years this fearful prophecy would be fulfilled (cf. Isa. 16:14).
2. The Scofield Bible teaches that this prophecy was literally fulfilled in 704 BC when Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, invaded Moab, “but the words have a breadth of meaning which includes also the final world-battle” (p. 727).
3. Scofield was right (cf. Isa. 16:5). Daniel 11:41 refers to the antichrist passing through Moab. He is the “spoiler” in Isa. 16:4.
4. And six hundred years before Christ, Jeremiah prophesied, “Yet will I bring again the captivity of Moab in the latter days, saith the LORD. Thus far is the judgment of Moab” (Jer. 48:47).
5. Note the sad repetition: “Ar of Moab is laid waste…Kir of Moab is laid waste…weep…howl…sackcloth…howl, weeping abundantly…cry…cry out…cry out…weeping…cry of destruction…desolate…cry…howling…howling…the waters of Dimon shall be full of blood” (15:1-9).
6. The Moabites went to their heathen temples to pray to their false gods and their idols, but their false gods and idols could not help them (15:2; 16:12).
II. THE PLEA OF MOAB (16:1-5).
1. The Moabites fled south to Sela (16:1) in Edom. From Sela the Moabites sent a message to the king of Judah (“the ruler of the land”), asking for his help (16:1). Sending a lamb (16:1) was a custom in those days, a form of paying tribute (cf. II Kings 3:4, 5).
2. Of course this is also symbolic – a lamb was the animal of sacrifice. “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
3. Moab did not send a lamb. Moab wanted religion but not God. They were trusting in their own righteousness (like a couple we met knocking on doors yesterday).
4. Moab needed help so they turned to Judah (16:1-3). But remember what HA Ironside said about Moab?
5. Merrill Unger wrote, “Spiritually, Moab portrays the proud, unregenerate religionist, devoted to idolatrous rites (they worshiped Chemosh and Baal-Peor) and addicted to fleshly ceremonies, but highly hostile to redemptive grace and the working of the Spirit giving victory over influences contrary to God, exhibited by their relative, Israel (cf. Numbers 22:1-6)” (Unger’s Commentary on the OT).
6. So since the Moabites were proud (16:6), haughty, unregenerate idolaters, there was a problem with their request for assistance. Oftentimes, we see lost sinners come to church looking for help. But soon we see that they want help, but they do not want to get right with God. God does not work that way.
7. Or as one Bible teacher put it, the Moabites “wanted Judah’s help, but they did not want Judah’s God” (Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary).
8. Isaiah 16:3 and 4 are the very words of God to Moab. “Let mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab; be thou a covert to them from the face of the spoiler” (16:4a). This verse goes beyond Isaiah’s day to the coming tribulation period.
9. Therefore, “the latter part of verse 4 prophetically envisions the destruction of the beast (Antichrist) and all other foes of Christ and the Jews (Rev. 19:11—20:3), and the setting up of the millennial Kingdom” (Unger).
10. Isaiah 16:5 is a Messianic prophecy. Christ will establish His throne “in the tabernacle of David” (cf. Acts 15:16-18).
III. THE PRIDE OF MOAB (16:6-14).
1. The Moabites were not only insufferably proud, but they were also liars (Isa. 16:6b).
2. God hates lying. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour” (Exodus 20:16).
3. Proverbs 14:5 says, “A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies.”
4. Proverbs 6:16-19 says God hates “a false witness that speaketh lies.”
5. Rev. 21:8 says, “all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.”
6. Moab was a wicked country, and so God judged them (Isa. 16:6-14).
7. God is longsuffering. Isaiah cried over Moab (cf. 15:5; 16:9). Ezekiel 33:11 says, “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
8. But while God is longsuffering, His patience does wear out (16:13, 14).
9. It was many years ago that Thomas Jefferson, our third president, said, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.”
10. America is becoming more and more like Moab, a proud country deserving the judgment of God. It is becoming more like Israel, a nation that knew God but turned away from God.
11. If Jefferson trembled for America 200 years ago, what would he think today – with abortion, homosexual “marriage,” pornography, and all of the wickedness going on today in our so-called “Christian nation.”
1. Moab would not be totally annihilated. A small feeble remnant would survive (16:14b).
2. Today the Moabites are mixed in with the rest of the Arabs. Moab is situated today in modern day Jordan (cf. Psalm 83).