Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Lamenting for Moab (Isaiah 16)

Hiding from my pride over here ↑

After taking more three years to read through the Bible from beginning to end, I had a lot of questions. As I read, I would put a sticky tab on a page any time I had a question. I’m now going back and trying to find answers for all those tabs. Often I find that my questions have been answered by continuing to read the Bible. Sometimes, though, I just can’t quite grasp the depth of the Word or see past my own human reasoning. When I can’t use the Bible to answer itself (on my own), I turn to trusted commentaries and Bible teachers to help me.

One of my questions came from my own self-indignation and pride. In Isaiah 16:11, we see the prophet Isaiah lamenting for Moab.  Moab is a nation born out of sin (see Genesis 19). Isaiah notes that the Moabites are known for their pride and conceit. They’re an idolatrous people. My question that I wrote in the margin of my Bible was, “Why lament for Moab?” Why lament for people living in blatant sin and worshipping idols they made with their hands?

Maybe I’m the only one who has ever felt this way about people. I can be pretty hard on people. If they’ve done something wrong, they deserve punishment. Extending mercy and grace isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind. Lamenting over the consequences they will face definitely isn’t something I initially feel.

So, why does Isaiah lament for a prideful, conceited, idol-worshipping group of people?

Note: Here is a very surface level, watered down answer. I’m only addressing one aspect of this passage. This isn’t the end-all explanation of this chapter, but this is an explanation that really hit home for me.

The Matthew Henry commentary gives an outlook on the passage that is pretty convicting. He starts by saying that at the beginning of chapter 16 that God has made it appear that he doesn’t delight in the ruin of sinners, and He tells Moab what to do to prevent that ruin.

God doesn’t get pleasure from our wrongdoing. We need to get that, because we first need a clear picture of God to have a clear picture of how we are to view evil.

Also, God doesn’t hide a secret formula for how to do right and how to be in right standing with Him. He lays out a clear picture of repentance and salvation. Spoiler alert: The faithful man who sits on the throne who seeks justice and righteousness in verse 5 is the prophecy of Jesus! We have a King who provides righteousness for our sin, and we need to let everyone know!

Jumping back to Matthew Henry, he says that in verse 11 Isaiah experiences an inward grief, inward trembling that feels like strings being played on a harp. He says the afflictions of the world should be afflictions to us. Isaiah is mourning over the destruction that is coming to Moab because of their sin.

Do I ever feel sick in my gut over the pain of the world, like my insides are being plucked? Do I write off evil, or do I groan and grieve for those living in evil, praying that they may know righteousness?

Searching for an answer to my “why lament for Moab?” question was a real slap in the face. It made me face my pride (because that’s what it is when I think I’m better than someone else). I’m supposed to share the good news about the righteous King and lament for those who are serving anything else. It’s easier to lament for Moab when I remember that I had to be redeemed from pride, conceit, and idol-worship myself. I need to be afflicted by the world’s sin and tell them about my righteous King.

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