Isaiah 15-16 is a prophecy concerning the “burden of Moab” (literally the doom or prophetic judgment concerning Moab). The Moabites were descendants of Abraham’s nephew Lot, and his incestuous relationship with his eldest daughter (Genesis 19:31-37). The geographical lands of Moab were located east of the Dead Sea.
Isaiah 15 – The Prophecy of Moab’s Destruction
Isaiah 15 opens with two capital cities of Moab, “Ar of Moab” and “Kir of Moab,” being described as “laid waste, and brought to silence” (15:1). Continuing the historical context of Assyria’s rise to world dominance, Isaiah predicted the destruction of those Moabite capital cities would be swift, falling in one night.
Escaping the Assyrian invasion, the Moabite people would turn to their gods in “the high places, to weep” (15:2), and shave their heads, and cut off their beards (outward signs of mourning, 15:2). The people would wander the streets in sackcloth (a rough cloth identified with mourning), and howl and cry from housetops (15:3). The nation would be so overwhelmed with grief, even the soldiers of Moab would cry out (15:4).
Isaiah was so moved by the vision of God’s judgment against Moab, he said, “My heart shall cry out for Moab” (15:5a). The prophet foretold the Moabites would be as “fugitives” (15:5), and would flee to Zoar (the ancient city where Lot fled after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Genesis 13:10).
God’s judgment often affects the physical nature of a land, and Isaiah warned Moab would become uninhabitable; the waters would dry up (15:6a), and the green grasses would fail (15:6b). Drought would force the people to abandon the land, and seek other places where streams of water would flow (15:7).
So many would be slain, “the waters of Dimon [would] be full of blood” (15:9). To those fortunate enough to escape the carnage of battle, the LORD promised He would send lions to slay them (15:9).
Isaiah 16 – A Continuation of the Prophetic Message Against Moab
Isaiah was not insensitive to the sorrows that would come upon Moab (16:1). He urged the Moabites, “send ye the lamb to the ruler of the land” (Judah), a sacrifice that would serve as an acknowledgment that the God of Israel was sovereign. Yet, the king of Moab refused to send a lamb, and Isaiah foretold the people would become “as a wandering bird” forced to flee its nest (16:2). The people of Moab would appeal to Judah, and ask that nation to offer them shelter from the Assyrians, and be as a “shadow [shade]…of the noonday” (16:3).
Moab’s Pride Demanded God’s Judgment (16:6-8)
The pride of the Moabite people had led them down a path of destruction (16:6). Lifted up with pride, the nation believed it was safe, until it was too late to turn to the LORD (16:6b). Moab was doomed, and its cities would soon be looted (16:7), and its fields and vineyards wasted (16:8).
Isaiah’s Lament for Moab (16:9-11)
The pride of Moab had driven that nation to the point of no return, and Isaiah testified how he would “bewail with the weeping” the devastation of God’s judgment (16:9). The land would fall silent, and there would be no happiness or joy, no singing or shouting (16:10).
Three Years to Annihilation (16:12-14)
Rather than turn to the LORD, and send a lamb for a sacrificial offering (16:1), the people of Moab turned to their idols (16:12), and found no safety. All the prophets had foretold concerning Moab would come to pass (Amos 2:2; Zephaniah 2:9).
Isaiah concluded his prophesy against Moab declaring, “the Lord hath spoken, saying, Within three years, as the years of an hireling” (supposing a hired hand labors for an agreed time, but not a day more, 16:14a). Three years, and no more, and Moab would come to nothing, and “that great multitude” would become “very small and feeble” (16:14).
All that Isaiah had prophesied against Moab was fulfilled in Isaiah 25:10-12. Pride was the ruin of Moab, and prevented that nation from turning to the LORD and repenting of its wickedness.
The pride of Lucifer moved him to lift up his spirit against the LORD, and was the catalyst for his being cast out of heaven (Isaiah 14:12-14). Pride inspired the king of Babylon to boast against God, until he was struck down (Isaiah 14:4-6).
Be Careful: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).
Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith