Lecture Notes on Isaiah 15 & 16
The Oracle re Moab Moab was a
neighbor and a relative of Judah
from a daughter of Lot, the nephew of Abraham
(Genesis 19:36-38). They were not God’s people, but they could have been if only
they had humbled themselves under the throne of David.
15:1-9 lists locations known to the people of that
day; not all are known to us. It is plain that the judgment of the Lord was throughout
the entire nation. It was the Lord who brought this bloodshed on Moab.
Who weeps over Moab? This
person, unidentified until the end of the oracle, has a heart that cries out
(13:5), he weeps (16:9) and laments with his inmost being (16:11). The “I” is
not Isaiah but the Lord speaking. The “I” of 13:9 and 16:10 can only be the
Lord. Further, with no indication of alternating speakers, it cannot be Isaiah.
The oracle ends with Isaiah identifying the speaker as the Lord, “This is the
word the LORD has already spoken concerning Moab.” So we know that the One speaking in v.5 is also the Lord. It is His heart that
cries out for the fugitives fleeing His judgment. This text shows us that God
does not delight in the death of the wicked. It shows God’s desire that His
mercy be accepted by sinners, and it shows that He does not withhold judgment,
though He grieves at the horror of sin’s consequences. He offers mercy and refuge no sinner deserves. He also dispenses the penalty sinners merit.
16:1-4 An overture of peace A proposal was being entertained. Maybe
this is what the Moabites were considering; maybe it is what God was telling
them. The idea is that in Moab’s terrible distress they might find refuge
in Judah. By stating it in this oracle, Isaiah in the
Lord’s name was promoting it as a solution.
Moabites should again send lambs as tribute, just as they did in the
past as an act of submission to Judah
(2 Kings 3:4). By Moab
doing so, there was hope of refuge. Its women were already fleeing trying to
get across the Arnon
River (v.2), their
northern boundary. God’s word to Judah was one of mercy, “Let the
fugitives stay with you.”
16:4,5 The Lord gives the same hope for Moab
as for his own people. That hope is that a throne in Zion (v.1) will be established in the House
of David (v.5). Isaiah spoke of the Messiah to come. Clearly the gospel is not
for the Jews only; here it is spreading to the Moabites. No man has ever sat on
David’s throne, including David, who was the ultimate in faithfulness, justice
and righteousness, but a unique Man was predicted to come in the line of David.
He will be born of a virgin (7:14) and though human, He would still be God with
His people (Immanuel, 7:14); indeed He is the Mighty God (9:6). The government
would rest securely on His shoulders, with peace increased. No marauding Assyrian
army would be able to overcome a kingdom so stable that it lasts forever
supported by the zeal of the Lord (9:7).
Messianic hope was centered in Judah.
should flee there for safety, and there the great Lord would protect them. Moab’s only
hope would be to align itself with that throne. In days to come, aliens will
unite with Judah
(14:1). Sadly, because of Moab’s
rejection it was to be other aliens, not them. That was the only hope for Moab in Isaiah 15
& 16 and for any people any time. It was a gospel of preservation and
refuge from the oppressor. In the days of Isaiah, salvation was of the Jews
(John 4:22) through whom our Lord came (Romans 9:5).
Moabites should humble themselves and be subject to the ruler in Jerusalem. It was time to
send lambs again. The Word of the Lord through Isaiah sent this message of
deliverance and salvation for its suffering refugees.
To submit to the ruler in Jerusalem
was against the overweening pride of Moab. They would rather face their
troubles by themselves, and even death, than swallow their pride and go humbly
to the House of David for relief and life. In this way they chose God’s
judgment and spurned His grace. He would continue their destruction, even
though the same Lord who has wrath for sin is glad and quick to forgive the one
who will repent and come to Him.
is the destruction Moab chose by
its rejection of the salvation offered and spoken by the mouth of the Lord. As
God punishes, He grieves (vv.9,11). He declares, “I
take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from
their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house
(Ezekiel 33:11) That kind of word was spoken to Moab too.
It is not true that if grace is shown to the wicked that
they will automatically learn righteousness (Isaiah 26:10). Just as with the
Israelites, God in a new covenant will have to give new hearts, or no one would
ever leave their sin and flee to Christ, even in the face of impending disaster.
(See Deuteronomy 30:1-11 and Jeremiah 31:31-34.)
God is shown as one
lamenting. This does not mean that He
has human emotions or passions. There are anthropomorphic statements in
Scripture picturing God with hands and eyes. There are anthropopathic passages which
picture God with human emotion. These are not literal, but do convey truth
about the Lord. God is not moved by passions as we are. He has no moods or
change; He is immutable. But this passage shows God as not heartless, but
caring, grieved not only at their plight, but also at the terrible sin that
enslaves them. Moab
chose to be destroyed. Mercy was just to the west across the Dead Sea; the Lord
Who lived in Jerusalem
said to Moab
through His prophet Isaiah, “Come.” They
stayed where they were and died. The gospel comes as an invitation to come. The
“come” Jesus spoke in Matthew 11:28 and John 6:35 is
found in Isaiah 55:1. It is illustrated in Isaiah 15 & 16 with Moab.
chose her idols. We would all do the same but for the saving grace of God.
Within three years and not a day more, poor Moab would be gone. The survivors,
who could have lived in Judah,
would be very few and hard to find. The real God invited them into His refuge;
they stayed with their idols. Pride is a terrible thing.