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The Blue Letter Bible

David Guzik :: Study Guide for Isaiah 16

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The Burden Against Moab (continued)

A. Counsel to Moab.

1. (Isa 16:1-2) Send the lamb …

Send the lamb to the ruler of the land, from Sela to the wilderness, to the mount of the daughter of Zion. For it shall be as a wandering bird thrown out of the nest; so shall be the daughters of Moab at the fords of the Arnon.

a. The idea behind send the lamb to the ruler of the land is that Moab should resume their bringing of tribute to Jerusalem, thereby submitting themselves to God again. This kind of tribute is described in 2 Kings 3:4-5, where Mesha, King of Moab, who once paid tribute to Israel, stopped doing so when King Ahab of Israel died. Here, Isaiah counsels Moab to resume this payment of tribute.

b. Isaiah paints a powerful picture of the helpless, confused state of Moab under the hand of God's judgment. They are like a wandering bird thrown out of the nest, confused, weak, and vulnerable. Their only recourse is to submit themselves to Jerusalem and its King again.

2. (Isa 16:3) Isaiah's word to Judah as she observes Moab under judgment.

"Take counsel, execute judgment; make your shadow like the night in the middle of the day; hide the outcasts, do not betray him who escapes."

a. Here, in the compassion of his prophecy, Isaiah pleads with the rulers of Judah to hide the outcasts of Moab. Again, his great sympathies are probably due to the connection between Moab and the royal house of David.

b. Do not betray him who escapes: Isaiah wanted Judah to be a place of refuge and protection for Moab under judgment. This is exactly what the church should be, when people are under the strong hand of the LORD in the world. We should be a place that will hide the outcasts and receive him who escapes, never to betray them.

3. (Isa 16:4-5) A plea for refuge among Moab in the day of the righteous King.

"Let My outcasts dwell with you, O Moab; be a shelter to them from the face of the spoiler. For the extortioner is at an end, devastation ceases, the oppressors are consumed out of the land. In mercy the throne will be established; and One will sit on it in truth, in the tabernacle of David, judging and seeking justice and hastening righteousness."

a. Let My outcasts dwell with you, O Moab: This is a sudden and curious change of focus. In Isaiah 16:3, Judah was counseled to receive the outcasts of Moab. Now, Moab is asked to receive the outcasts of Judah. Bultema thinks that Isaiah 16:4-5 is an end-times prophecy of how Moab will be a place of refuge for Jews escaping the fury of the Antichrist after the abomination of desolation.

b. Israel, fleeing from the fury of the Antichrist, will find refuge in places like Moab (Revelation 12:6, 12:13-14). They will be protected from the face of the spoiler until devastation ceases and the oppressors are consumed out of the land.

c. In those end times, the throne of the Messiah will be established, and the Messiah Himself will sit on the throne: One will sit on it in truth, in the tabernacle of David. His reign will be wonderful, judging and seeking justice and hastening righteousness.

B. The pain of the prophet.

1. (Isa 16:6-8) The pain in Moab at the judgment of God.

We have heard of the pride of Moab; he is very proud; of his haughtiness and his pride and his wrath; but his lies shall not be so. Therefore Moab shall wail for Moab; everyone shall wail. For the foundations of Kir Hareseth you shall mourn; surely they are stricken. For the fields of Heshbon languish, and the vine of Sibmah; the lords of the nations have broken down its choice plants, which have reached to Jazer and wandered through the wilderness. Her branches are stretched out, they are gone over the sea.

a. We have heard of the pride of Moab: Here is the only place where the sin of Moab is detailed. It is significant that Moab's sin was pride, because they were a fairly small and insignificant nation. We can easily understand how the empires of Babylon or Assyria might fall through pride, but we may be slower to see pride in smaller things. But the small can be just as consumed with pride as the great!

i. "Like Assyria and Babylon, Moab was extremely proud. Isaiah piled term upon term to show that the nation's relative insignificance did not make it immune to pride." (Wolf)

b. This pride is also referred to in the prophecy of judgment found in Jeremiah 48:1-13. God would judge the proud nation, so that Moab shall wail for Moab. The Moabites took great pride in their vineyards, but God used the lords of the nations to break them down, and to destroy everything Moab took pride in.

i. "Even though Moab had been advised to seek help from Zion's King, the seer foresaw at the same time the futility of this advice on account of Moab's pride. Whenever pride is not broken by humility, it will have to be broken by justice." (Bultema)

2. (Isa 16:9-12) Isaiah's sorrow of heart for Moab.

Therefore I will bewail the vine of Sibmah, with the weeping of Jazer; I will drench you with my tears, O Heshbon and Elealeh; for battle cries have fallen over your summer fruits and your harvest. Gladness is taken away, and joy from the plentiful field; in the vineyards there will be no singing, nor will there be shouting; no treaders will tread out wine in the presses; I have made their shouting cease. Therefore my heart shall resound like a harp for Moab, and my inner being for Kir Heres. And it shall come to pass, when it is seen that Moab is weary on the high place, that he will come to his sanctuary to pray; but he will not prevail.

a. I will bewail the vine of Sibmah … I will drench you with my tears: As Isaiah prophesied of the judgment coming upon Moab, he wasn't happy. He was not pleased that judgment was coming upon a rival nation. As far as he was concerned, Gladness is taken away, and joy from the plentiful field. In fact, Isaiah would not even let others be happy at a time like this: I have made their shouting cease. He hurts so badly for Moab that he says, "my heart shall resound like a harp for Moab."

b. At the same time, Isaiah knows that Moab is looking in the wrong places for answers: When it is seen that Moab is weary on the high place, that he will come to his sanctuary and pray; but he will not prevail. Isaiah knew the pain of seeing calamity come, and watching people turn to the wrong places in the midst of the destruction.

c. This was the same attitude Jesus had when He wept for Jerusalem: O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!" (Matthew 23:37-39) When Jesus saw the desolation to come upon the city that rejected Him, He did not rejoice. Jesus also knew that in the midst of their calamity, they would turn to themselves instead of the LORD.

3. (Isa 16:13-14) Three years until judgment comes on Moab.

This is the word which the LORD has spoken concerning Moab since that time. But now the LORD has spoken, saying, "Within three years, as the years of a hired man, the glory of Moab will be despised with all that great multitude, and the remnant will be very small and feeble."

a. Within three years: Isaiah, speaking for the LORD, announces that judgment will come upon Moab in this time period. The judgment will humble Moab: The glory of Moab will be despised.

b. Since we don't know the exact date of Isaiah's prophecy, it is impossible to independently verify the accuracy of the within three years prediction. But in the phrasing this is the word of which the LORD has spoken concerning Moab since that time, we gather that most of Isaiah 15-16 was given at an earlier time, and the within three years aspect was added at the right time, at a later date.

i. "Apparently King Sargon of Assyria conducted a major operation against the Arabians in 715 B.C., and he may have devastated Moab en route to encountering those tribes." (Wolf)

c. Why did God announce the time frame for His judgment? It was a warning to Moab and an invitation for their humble repentance (it wasn't unthinkable that this prophecy would get to the Moabites somehow). It was a lesson for God's people on how the LORD judges the proud. Finally, it assured God's people that the LORD would deal with other, worse, nations as He also dealt with Israel.

© 2001 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission

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