Scripture reading – Isaiah 15; Isaiah 16

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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

The Wailing over Moab’s Judgment (Isaiah 15:1-5)

Isaiah 15 opened with two capital cities of Moab, “Ar of Moab” and “Kir of Moab,” being described as “laid waste, and brought to silence” (Isaiah 15:1). Continuing the historical context of Assyria’s rise to world dominance, Isaiah predicted the swift destruction of those Moabite capital cities, falling in one night.

Escaping the Assyrian invasion, the Moabite people would turn to their gods in “the high places, to weep” (Isaiah 15:2), shave their heads, and cut off their beards (outward signs of mourning, Isaiah 15:2). The people would wander the streets in sackcloth (a rough cloth identified with mourning), and howl and cry from housetops (Isaiah 15:3). The nation would be so overwhelmed with grief, even the soldiers of Moab would cry out (Isaiah 15:4).

Isaiah was so moved by the vision of God’s judgment against Moab that he said, “My heart shall cry out for Moab” (Isaiah 15:5a). The prophet foretold the Moabites would be “fugitives” (Isaiah 15:5), fleeing to Zoar the ancient city where Lot fled after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 13:10).

The Wailing over Moab’s Judgment (Isaiah 15:1-5)

The Tragedies of Moab (Isaiah 15:6-9)

Because God’s judgment often affects the physical nature of the land, Isaiah warned Moab would become uninhabitable; the waters would dry up (Isaiah 15:6a), and the green grasses would fail (Isaiah 15:6b). Drought would force the people to abandon the land, and seek other places where streams of water flowed (Isaiah 15:7).

So many would be slain, “the waters of Dimon [would] be full of blood” (Isaiah 15:9). To those fortunate enough to escape the carnage of war, the LORD promised He would send lions to slay them (Isaiah 15:9).

Isaiah 16 – A Continuation of the Isaiah’s Prophetic Message Against Moab


An Invitation for Moab to Repent (Isaiah 16:1-5)

Isaiah was not insensitive to the sorrows that would come upon Moab (Isaiah 16:1). He urged the Moabites, “Send ye the lamb to the ruler of the land” (Judah). This sacrifice served as an acknowledgment that the God of Israel was sovereign. Yet, the king of Moab refused to send a lamb. Isaiah, therefore, foretold the people would become “as a wandering bird” forced to flee its nest (Isaiah 16:2). The Moabites appealed to Judah and asked that nation to offer them shelter from the Assyrians and serve as a “shadow [shade]…of the noonday” (Isaiah 16:3).

Moab’s Pride Demanded God’s Judgment (Isaiah 16:6-8)

Tragically, the pride of the Moabites led them down a path of destruction (Isaiah 16:6). Filled with pride; they believed they were safe until it was too late to turn to the LORD (Isaiah 16:6b). Moab was doomed. Its cities would soon be looted (Isaiah 16:7), and its fields and vineyards wasted (Isaiah 16:8).

Moab’s Pride Demanded God’s Judgment (Isaiah 16:6-8)

Isaiah’s Lament for Moab (Isaiah 16:9-11)

The pride of Moab drove that nation to the point of no return. Isaiah testified that he would “bewail with the weeping” the devastation of God’s judgment (Isaiah 16:9). Because of the captivity, the land would fall silent, and there would be no happiness or joy, no singing or shouting (Isaiah 16:10).


Three Years to Annihilation (Isaiah 16:12-14)

Rather than turn to the LORD and send a lamb for a sacrificial offering (Isaiah 16:1), the people of Moab turned to their idols (Isaiah 16:12) and found no safety. All that the prophets foretold concerning Moab did come to pass (Amos 2:2; Zephaniah 2:9).  

Isaiah’s prophesy against Moab concluded with him 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, Isaiah 16:14a). Three years, and no more, and Moab would come to nothing, and “that great multitude” would become “very small and feeble” (Isaiah 16:14).


Closing thoughts –


The Destructive Nature of Sinful Pride

Lucifer’s pride moved him to lift 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). So, Moab’s pride was that nation’s ruin and prevented the people from turning to the LORD and repenting of their wickedness. All Isaiah prophesied against Moab was fulfilled in Isaiah 25:10-12.

“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith 

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