In our study of Isaiah chapter sixteen, we will look at the judgment of Moab and how it applies to our world today. In chapter 15, we saw how it is not good enough to just be close to the kingdom of God. We continue by looking at what happens when God's offer of mercy is refused.
Send lambs as tribute to the ruler of the land, from Sela, across the desert, to the mount of the Daughter of Zion.
God opens this chapter with an offer of mercy. Sela refers to the city of Petra which is located in Jordan and is famous for being cut out of the rock and for its water system.
Like fluttering birds pushed from the nest, so are the women of Moab at the fords of the Arnon.
When baby birds are nudged from the nest, they flap their wings as hard and fast as they can in an attempt to fly and survive. Here, the refugees from the wrath that was prophesied in chapter fifteen are described in the same manner.
'Give us counsel, render a decision. Make your shadow like night - at high noon. Hide the fugitives, do not betray the refugees. Let the Moabite fugitives stay with you; be their shelter from the destroyer.' The oppressor will come to an end, and destruction will cease; the aggressor will vanish from the land.
Here, God calls His people to assist the Moabites as they flee from the Assyrians. We must remember that they were enemies of Israel but God tells them to demonstrate mercy just as He did for them. This is a reminder to us, as Christians, that we are to be known as a loving merciful people. We are to shelter those that reject Jesus so that they may come to know of His grace and mercy.
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.
This speaks of the temporary offer of mercy from Israel towards their enemy but also to the eternal mercy of God through Jesus Christ. We are reminded that it is God's love for us that prompted Him to send His Son to earth. It is the love that Jesus has for us that led Him to obey the Father and go to the cross on our behalf but we are reminded that it is those who accept that mercy that are considered righteous.
We have heard of Moab's pride - her overweening pride and conceit, her pride and insolence - but her boasts are empty.
The pride of the Moabites would not allow them to accept Israel's help or God's mercy. This type of pride is the root of most sin and is the reason that Satan was kicked out of heaven. A prideful heart says: I don't need God; I can do it myself.
Therefore the Moabites wail, they wail together for Moab. Lament and grieve for the men of Kir Hareseth. The fields of Heshbon wither, the vines of Sibmah also. The rulers of the nations have trampled down the choicest vines, which once reached Jazer and spread toward the desert. Their shoots spread out and went as far as the sea. So I weep, as Jazer weeps, for the vines of Sibmah. O Heshbon, O Elealeh, I drench you with tears! The shouts of joy over your ripened fruit and over your harvests have been stilled. Joy and gladness are taken away from the orchards; no one sings or shouts in the vineyards; no one treads out wine at the presses, for I have put an end to the shouting.
The result of rejection of God's mercy is the removal of His hand of provision. As we see in this passage, the Moabites refused God's offer of mercy and so He removed the provision of their vineyards. Moab was known for its wine but did not acknowledge that it was the hand of God that caused the vines to grow and to produce a crop. When He removed His hand of provision, the harvest ended and they mourned over the fields but still did not see their sin of pride.
My heart laments for Moab like a harp, my inmost being for Kir Hareseth. When Moab appears at her high place, she only wears herself out; when she goes to her shrine to pray, it is to no avail.
While God was offering mercy the Moabites were still chasing idols and so it grieved God. The same thing happens today when we, as Christians, put other things before our worship of God.
This is the word the Lord has already spoken concerning Moab. But now the Lord says: 'Within three years, as a servant bound by contract would count them, Moab's splendor and all her many people will be despised, and her survivors will be very few and feeble.'
God had already known that the Moabites were going to reject His mercy and said what was going to happen because of it. Now, He gives them the timeframe for the fulfillment of the judgment upon them. A "servant bound by contract" counts every day and knows the exact day when their time of bondage will be up. Likewise, God said that it would be precisely three years until the Moabites were judged. We do not know when Jesus is coming back for the final judgment but, as it was with the Moabites, we can choose to accept His mercy and grace or we, too, will face sure judgment.