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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Isaiah 16: 'Pride comes before a fall'

      Under attack from the Assyrians, the Moabite refugees flee to Sela, and look to Judah for protection. They send  a gift of lambs with their request, and the result is that for a time they find a safe haven in Jerusalem. Isaiah counsels Judah to be compassionate towards the Moabites. 
      In effect we can draw a parallel for today between the Moabites and the people of the world. The reason for the Moabites destruction was that they turned their back on God and ruined their lives by their pride, which was a great sin. When people have rejected God in their lives they need to be reconciled back to Him, and in order to do this they need to present Him with the best sacrifice they can, offering themselves into a living sacrifice. Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God, and so when people seek to be reconciled to God they should go to Him in the name of the Lamb.
      Although we may not enjoy the riches of this world when we subject ourselves to the Kingship of Christ, and may even suffer not only poverty but also the contempt of the world, nevertheless we enjoy an inner peace and can look forward to eternal life spent in the presence of the King.
      The lesson we learn from Isaiah 16 is that those who refuse to be counselled are unable to be helped. How often have you had someone come to you for advice which you have readily given after consideration, only to have them reject the advice and suffer as a result. The sin of the Moabites was the sin of pride. More souls are lost as a direct result of pride than by any other sin. The Moabites were famous for their vineyards, but these were laid to waste by the invading army of Assyrians. 
      When we rejoice in earthly things we should do so with holy trembling, whereas we can rejoice in the things of God with holy triumph. The false gods of the Moabites were useless, whilst the God of Israel, the only true God,  can and will always do as He has promised. How often today people put their trust in the things of this world only to find them useless when faced with devastation and ruin. The expression that 'Pride comes before a fall' is so true, as the Moabites found to their ruin, and as so many people find out in our world today.
Isaiah 16
1 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.”

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