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Lesson 14

LESSON 14

 

Trust in God and Love Others

 

As we have been looking at the burdens of Isaiah which prophesy the judgment of nations because of their physical or political relationship with Judah, we have seen an emphasis on Babylon in chapters 13 and 14. We have noted that Babylon is the symbol of the world system man has built in defiance of God and that the prince of that world system is Lucifer, or the devil himself. The fall of Babylon pictures the final fall of Satan and his kingdom. Although Satan calls himself the morning star, we know and worship the bright and morning star, Jesus Christ, who renders powerless the devil and his influence in our lives as we identify his schemes to imitate and take the place of God himself. We lift up the name of Jesus!

Today in chapter 15-16 we see the oracle written against Moab. Moab is a bordering state of Judah on the eastern side of the southern half of the Dead Sea. The Moabites were descendants from the incestuous relationship of Lot and his eldest daughter (Genesis 19). Balak, a Moabite king, hired a prophet, Balaam, to curse Israel because he feared Israel as they passed through their land. In the book of Ruth, she is identified as a Moabite.  These people were identified as the enemies of the Jews in Numbers 25. They seduced the Israelites to worship their gods. Those gods would be the ones the Moabites continue to trust in, even in the scriptures we read today.

As we look at these scriptures today they revolve around a people who are fleeing a destroying enemy and end up as refugees, who do not find a safe place.

Chapter 15 opens up and we see the account of two cities of Moab being destroyed in one night! There is much weeping and wailing of all the people even the soldiers of Moab (vs 4). All war brings untold misery and suffering and devastation. We see it all around the world today. These Moabites flee to the south (verses 5b-9) with whatever wealth they have stored up (vs 7). Have you ever thought about what you would take with you when your home is threatened so suddenly? Their enemy which is Assyria is relentlessly destroying the land, even the water supplies. The deaths are so staggering that the waters are full of blood (verse 9). Can you imagine what it would be like to flee an enemy like this? What fear – what desperation!

In verse 5, Isaiah’s heart cries out for them because of the severe judgment they were experiencing. In chapter 16:11 we see Isaiah express his concern again. “My heart laments like a harp, my inmost being for Kir Hareseth.” Can you hear the harp lamenting? Have you ever grieved over the discipline of God or the consequences of sin in someone’s life – even your own? God weeps over people’s suffering.

From God’s perspective, what is the reason for Moab’s destruction? Let’s look at 16: 6. “We have heard of Moab’s pride – her overweening pride and conceit, her pride and her insolence – but her boasts are empty.” They weren’t a country of great wealth and fame like Babylon. They are trusting in their deeds and riches as Jeremiah 48:7 says. They are an agricultural nation – verse 8 talks about their choicest vines being trampled down. Their grape produce is the work of their hands in which they have trusted. In verse 9and 10, Isaiah talks about what happens to the work of their hands:

        The shouts of joy over ripened fruit and harvest “ have been stilled.”

  • the “joy and gladness being taken away from their orchards…no on treads out wine
  • God has put an end to the shout of joy.

Their crops will be destroyed.

 

But there is something else that these Moabites trust in – their own gods, not the one true God! Gods that they have shaped with their own hands. Chapter 15: 2 finds them weeping in their high places. Isaiah 16:12 shows them appearing in the high places – and wearing themselves out as they seek their gods for help and finding no help when they pray to their shrines. Have you ever experienced this – trusting in a false god and the pursuit of it, wearing you out? AN idol is anything that crowds God out or puts him in second place in your life. The futility of worshipping idols is outlined in Isaiah 44:17-20. These idols know nothing and understand nothing. God is omniscient. “…Jesus has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” (I Corinthians 1:30). Their gods do not see. Our God is named El Roi, the one who sees us in our suffering even in unjust situations. What comfort that brings to us. Their gods could not see, could not understand. Our God is worthy of our praise – He can see, He can understand, He can hear our prayers! Idol worship is futile. When a man trusts in something else than God himself, he can’t even see that what he trusts in is a lie (Isaiah 44:20). “A deluded heart misleads them.”

They do make a plea to the Daughter of Zion – Jerusalem – for help. Look at 16:1. They send a tribute of lambs to Jerusalem, to seek their protection from Assyria. Look at their plea for refuge in verses 3-4. They need shelter from their destroyer. But don’t find it.

Apparently they want protection, but not enough to put their allegiance in the one true God. Jeremiah 48 is another prophecy about this same judgment on Moab. Jeremiah 48: 7 states that they trust in their “deeds and riches.” In verse 42, Jeremiah states clearly that Moab has “defied the Lord and will be destroyed.” Isaiah 16: 13-14 states that from this prophecy will be fulfilled within 3 years. Assyria will be the instrument in God’s hands.

Even though God’s heart is expressed through the weeping of both Isaiah and Jeremiah for the Moabites, God will be true to what he has ordained because of his holiness and justice. Moab will be destroyed because of their pride and their unwillingness to repent. Ezekiel 33:10-11 tells us a truth about God. These verses express God’s heart - “…he find’s no pleasure in the death of the wicked”. God instead calls for them to turn away from their sin. God today will extend mercy instead of judgment as people turn their hearts to him. He desires all to come to the knowledge of him. James teaches that mercy triumphs over judgment. Because of Jesus we have the grace of God to extend to others. Because of Jesus we can extend mercy instead of judgment and leave the rest to God.

Last week we talked about being shining stars holding out the word of life to others. In Isaiah 16:5, Isaiah holds out to them the Messiah, the only one who can truly give them shelter, refuge, shade, protection and life itself, as they trust in Him. “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 reminds us of Isaiah 11:1-5 where out of the stump of Jesse a Branch will bear fruit. He will judge with justice and His righteousness and faithfulness will hold all things together. This king is the one who is our model to the poor, the homeless and the hungry today - to those unbelievers who seek mercy from us.

We are called to love others. Look back at the first words of verse 5, “In love…” So we love others as Christ loved us. How did he love us?

*He gave his life for us… sacrificial love…do we love others sacrificially? *He loved us first…do we love others first or wait for their expression of love and acceptance of us? 

*He speaks truth to us because he loves us…do we speak truth in love to others because we love them? Loving the person, perhaps not their convictions or beliefs or their lifestyle? Meeting other people’s physical needs, despite the choices they have made that have effected their lives. Not condoning sin, but holding out love to them. Others will know we are Christians by our love, not our condemnation. They will know the love of Jesus by giving them shelter from the storms and shade from the scorching sun in their lives.

Through love, Jesus will be enthroned on the hearts of people. He will bring justice. He will be faithful and true towho He is as He imparts life and truth to each through the power of the Holy Spirit and His Word of truth.

Will you be an instrument of love in the hands of your God?