Read Isaiah 16
16 Send lambs as tribute
to the ruler of the land,
from Sela, across the desert,
to the mount of Daughter Zion.
2 Like fluttering birds
pushed from the nest,
so are the women of Moab
at the fords of the Arnon.
3 “Make up your mind,” Moab says.
“Render a decision.
Make your shadow like night—
at high noon.
Hide the fugitives,
do not betray the refugees.
4 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.
5 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.
6 We have heard of Moab’s pride—
how great is her arrogance!—
of her conceit, her pride and her insolence;
but her boasts are empty.
7 Therefore the Moabites wail,
they wail together for Moab.
Lament and grieve
for the raisin cakes of Kir Hareseth.
8 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.
9 So I weep, as Jazer weeps,
for the vines of Sibmah.
Heshbon and Elealeh,
I drench you with tears!
The shouts of joy over your ripened fruit
and over your harvests have been stilled.
10 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.
11 My heart laments for Moab like a harp,
my inmost being for Kir Hareseth.
12 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.
13 This is the word the Lord has already spoken concerning Moab. 14 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.”
In chapter 16, Isaiah continues his prophecy concerning Moab. In Isaiah 16:6, we finally get some insight into what the Moabites sin was. It says “We have heard of Moab’s pride—how great is her arrogance!—of her conceit, her pride and her insolence; but her boasts are empty.” Moab was a fairly small nation. Historians conclude that it was probably only 60 miles from north to south and 20 miles from east to west. This was significantly smaller than the thousands upon thousands of miles of land ruled by larger kingdoms such as the Assyrians and Babylonians. Yet, what does Isaiah tell us was the sin responsible for the judgment of this seemingly small and insignificant nation? Pride.
We tend to associate the sin of pride with people who are great and famous, but as we heed Isaiah’s prophecy to Moab, we are reminded that pride can take root even where we don’t expect it. Pastor David Guzik points out that “the seemingly small can be just as consumed with pride as the great.” Despite its size, Moab had rich agricultural resources and we can conclude that the Moabites became prideful and arrogantly consumed with their agricultural success. The New Living Translation of Isaiah 16:8 says “The farms of Heshbon are abandoned; the vineyards at Sibmah are deserted. The rulers of the nations have broken down Moab— that beautiful grapevine.” God destroyed what the Moabites took pride in.
Proverbs 16:5 says “The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.” As a result of the Moabites’ pride and unrepentant hearts, Isaiah is telling them that the Lord will in fact punish them. Moab was a rival nation to Israel, but instead of pointing a finger and telling them they were getting what they deserved, take note of Isaiah’s response in verse 11. “My heart laments for Moab like a harp, my inmost being for Kir Hareseth.” Both the prophet and the Lord are deeply grieved over the judgment that Moab will receive.
This is an important lesson for us to learn as believers: we should feel genuine sorrow over the miseries that come upon people because of their sin. Proverbs 24:17 says “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice,” May we learn from the prophecy of Isaiah to Moab to be aware of the sin of pride in our lives and the powerful destruction that it can cause. And may we realize that we serve a sympathetic God who is grieved by the consequences we suffer as a result of those sins.
- Is there an area of your life that you can pinpoint where pride is creeping in?
- What is your typical reaction if an “enemy” stumbles or falls?
- What do you learn from this passage about the heart of God?
Did You Know?
Did you know that Ruth was a Moabitess and the first part of Ruth and Naomi’s story took place in Moab? The fact that Moab was a nation hostile to Israel yet Ruth was the great-grandmother of King David (and in the genealogy of Jesus) is evidence of God’s impartiality and love and care for all people!
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