Day 189: The Moab Mirror

Jeremiah 48:39-47

“How it is broken down!
How they wail!
How Moab has turned the back with shame!
So will Moab become a derision
and a terror to all who are around him.”
For Yahweh says: “Behold, he will fly as an eagle,
and will spread out his wings against Moab.
Kerioth is taken,
and the strongholds are seized.
The heart of the mighty men of Moab at that day
will be as the heart of a woman in her pangs.
Moab will be destroyed from being a people,
because he has magnified himself against Yahweh.
Terror, the pit, and the snare are on you,
inhabitant of Moab,” says Yahweh.
“He who flees from the terror will fall into the pit;
and he who gets up out of the pit will be taken in the snare,
for I will bring on him, even on Moab,
the year of their visitation,” says Yahweh.

“Those who fled stand without strength under the shadow of Heshbon;
for a fire has gone out of Heshbon,
and a flame from the middle of Sihon,
and has devoured the corner of Moab, and the crown of the head of the tumultuous ones.
Woe to you, O Moab!
The people of Chemosh are undone;
for your sons are taken away captive,
and your daughters into captivity.

“Yet I will reverse the captivity of Moab in the latter days,”
says Yahweh.
Thus far is the judgment of Moab.

The crime that Moab committed that caused them to receive this horrible punishment from God was that they dared to magnify themselves against Him. In other translations it says that they exalted themselves against God. As a result, God intended to hunt them down. He even said that if they appear to have gotten away once, He would catch them again and if they get away the second time, He will catch them again. Their children would also go into captivity.

When you look at the history of Moab, you see that they actually thought that they could fight against God by harming those He had chosen to bless. They used their abilities to find a way to wage a war against the will of God, as if they could actually win that war. As we look at others, it’s easy for us to see how foolish and horrible it is to attempt to do something like that, but I have found that when I take the same measuring stick and measure myself, it doesn’t look very good.

When I have a mind to sin, I tend to do what I can get away with too. For instance, when driving on the road, do we see how far below the speed limit we can legally go, or how high above it? My mind is quite willing to work overtime to figure out a way how to live in the flesh while walking in the Spirit, which is quite impossible. Even the concept of being “neutral” is an example of this war against God and His word. God says that those who are not for Him are against Him. If we claim that we are just being neutral, we are calling God a liar because He says there is no neutral! That’s just another war against God that He will judge. Our pride is very deep and deceptive. We tend not to see it because, of course, we wouldn’t do such a thing, would we?

The truth that God has made known to us is that we were all Moab and we still have our Moab moments. We all had that pride that guided our actions as we breathed God’s air and lived in the bodies that God made while doing things we knew He didn’t like. We were fighting against Him and both sin and death took us captive too. The wonderful thing about this passage is what it says at the end. God not only promised punishment, He also promised release. After all that Moab had done to God and His people, God determined to “reverse the captivity of Moab in the latter days.” This is a big reason for us to praise God. We all have sinned and deserve God’s eternal punishment, but God intended to free us by His grace. Praise God.

Day 188: Taken Down by God

Jeremiah 48:29-38

“We have heard of the pride of Moab.
He is very proud in his loftiness, his pride,
his arrogance, and the arrogance of his heart.
I know his wrath,” says Yahweh, “that it is nothing;
his boastings have done nothing.
Therefore I will wail for Moab.
Yes, I will cry out for all Moab.
They will mourn for the men of Kir Heres.
With more than the weeping of Jazer
I will weep for you, vine of Sibmah.
Your branches passed over the sea.
They reached even to the sea of Jazer.
The destroyer has fallen on your summer fruits
and on your vintage.
Gladness and joy is taken away from the fruitful field
and from the land of Moab.
I have caused wine to cease from the wine presses.
No one will tread with shouting.
The shouting will be no shouting.
From the cry of Heshbon even to Elealeh,
even to Jahaz they have uttered their voice,
from Zoar even to Horonaim, to Eglath Shelishiyah;
for the waters of Nimrim will also become desolate.
Moreover I will cause to cease in Moab,” says Yahweh,
“him who offers in the high place,
and him who burns incense to his gods.
Therefore my heart sounds for Moab like flutes,
and my heart sounds like flutes for the men of Kir Heres.
Therefore the abundance that he has gotten has perished.
For every head is bald,
and every beard clipped.
There are cuttings on all the hands,
and sackcloth on the waist.
On all the housetops of Moab,
and in its streets, there is lamentation everywhere;
for I have broken Moab like a vessel in which no one delights,” says Yahweh.

We read in this prophesy that not only was Moab successful and rich, they were also proud and arrogant. God took them down from the hights of beauty, wealth and arrogance, to the depths of ugliness, poverty and shame. There was a time when they had everything and they thought that it was because of their own excellence. God chose to punish this group of people by completely removing all beauty, wealth and respect. Moab becomes an illustration of the teaching of the Bible about pride. Let’s look at that again.

Proverbs 16:18

Pride goes before destruction,
and an arrogant spirit before a fall.

This also reminds me of what Paul wrote to the Corinthians about being careful not to fall into sin and believe that everything is fine. Here’s what he said:

1 Corinthians 10:12

Therefore let him who thinks he stands be careful that he doesn’t fall.

Just because you have it good, doesn’t mean that you are right. It could mean that you are about to be completely destroyed by God Himself. That’s what the nation of Moab discovered and it actually scares me when I think about the United States. It is true that we have had some excellence here, but now it is very obvious that sin has taken over the lives of a huge number of people. I believe that there is arrogance here and clearly we have a problem with the worship of money. God is the same God that brought Moab down to the dirt. May God help us before it is too late and we are completely ruined like Moab was.

Day 186: Making a Clean Break

Jeremiah 48:10-17

“Cursed is he who does the work of Yahweh negligently;
and cursed is he who keeps back his sword from blood.

“Moab has been at ease from his youth,
and he has settled on his dregs,
and has not been emptied from vessel to vessel,
neither has he gone into captivity;
therefore his taste remains in him,
and his scent is not changed.
Therefore behold, the days come,” says Yahweh,
“that I will send to him those who pour off,
and they will pour him off;
and they will empty his vessels,
and break their containers in pieces.
Moab will be ashamed of Chemosh,
as the house of Israel was ashamed of Bethel, their confidence.

“How do you say, ‘We are mighty men,
and valiant men for the war’?
Moab is laid waste,
and they have gone up into his cities,
and his chosen young men have gone down to the slaughter,”
says the King, whose name is Yahweh of Armies.
“The calamity of Moab is near to come,
and his affliction hurries fast.
All you who are around him, bemoan him;
and all you who know his name, say,
‘How the strong staff is broken,
the beautiful rod!’

The history of Moab’s dealings with Israel are covered in the Bible. I agree with others who study Moab that it is a good representation of a corrupting influence. Moab harmed Israel from the inside. It was Moab’s king that hired Balaam to curse Israel in order to keep them from harming Moab but God blessed Israel instead. Eventually, Moab realized that the way to stop Israel was to pervert them. They had their women infiltrate Israel and get the men to have sex with them. Pretty crafty wasn’t it? Israel was supposed to kill their enemies, not sleep with them!

The first verse in this passage has special meaning in light of Israel’s history with Moab. God wants us to make a clean break from sin. In this case, Israel was neglegent in killing the Moabites. Moab was harming Israel, but Israel decided to enjoy the sin that they could have with them. Israel refused to separate themselves from their sin and they ended up being punished by God for it.

Moab, on the other hand, was still around. Perhaps that is why this prophesy says: “Moab has been at ease from his youth.” God had some things that He needed to finish with Moab and we read about that here. You can imagine that after getting away with sin for such a long time that you might begin to think that you are strong and valiant. Moab thought they were strong, according to this passage, but they were about to be broken.

It’s important for unbelievers to realize that even if they are successful at perverting believers and getting them to sin, that they won’t escape God’s hand. It’s also important for us, as believers, separate ourselves from sin and sinful influences. Living a life of holiness means that we make a clean break. We need to stop playing around with sin and fight against it instead.

Day 185: Trusting in our Works and Treasures

Jeremiah 48:1-9

Of Moab. Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel, says:
“Woe to Nebo!
For it is laid waste.
Kiriathaim is disappointed.
It is taken.
Misgab is put to shame
and broken down.
The praise of Moab is no more.
In Heshbon they have devised evil against her:
‘Come! Let’s cut her off from being a nation.’
You also, Madmen, will be brought to silence.
The sword will pursue you.
The sound of a cry from Horonaim,
desolation and great destruction!
Moab is destroyed.
Her little ones have caused a cry to be heard.
For they will go up by the ascent of Luhith with continual weeping.
For at the descent of Horonaim they have heard the distress of the cry of destruction.
Flee! Save your lives!
Be like the juniper bush in the wilderness.
For, because you have trusted in your works and in your treasures,
you also will be taken.
Chemosh will go out into captivity,
his priests and his princes together.
The destroyer will come on every city,
and no city will escape;
the valley also will perish,
and the plain will be destroyed, as Yahweh has spoken.
Give wings to Moab,
that she may fly and get herself away:
and her cities will become a desolation,
without anyone to dwell in them.

An interesting thing about God’s punishment of Judah, is what He did to the nations around them. These nations were all enemies of the God of Israel for a long time, but God had allowed them to exist. I believe that the Bible indicates that God was waiting for them to repent and turn to Him. After all, they were right next to the nation of Israel. They were privileged to know how much God would do for those who love Him. In a very real sense, nations like Moab had more responsibility because they had more knowlege about God. Here we read that God not only pronounced punishment for Egypt, but also for Moab.

In this passage God gives a reason for His judgment. He tells Moab: “you have trusted in your works and in your treasures.” We could say this in a more modern way. We could say: “you have trusted in your career and in your wealth.” Even if you don’t worship a particular “god,” it’s possible to be judged for trusting in your money and position. That has obvious application to American culture as I write this. The Bible doesn’t tell us here, but God had already made clear what Moab should have done. Let’s go back in Jeremiah and see what God told Israel.

Jeremiah 5:25-29

“Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withheld good from you. For wicked men are found among my people. They watch, as fowlers lie in wait. They set a trap. They catch men. As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit. Therefore they have become great, and grew rich. They have grown fat. They shine; yes, they excel in deeds of wickedness. They don’t plead the cause, the cause of the fatherless, that they may prosper; and they don’t defend the rights of the needy.

“Shouldn’t I punish for these things?” says Yahweh. “Shouldn’t my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?

God expects us to help the orphans and the needy. When we accept God’s resources and don’t help others, we tend to start trusting in the things God gives us instead of in Him. We may even excuse our hoarding by saying that we are just making sure we are safe. That sound’s good at first but is it money that makes us safe in an ultimate sense? If we stop giving to others, it’s a bad sign. We may be trusting in our jobs and in our wealth instead of in our God and that’s a punishable offense.