/ Soul-Winning-Welcome in Isaiah / Andrew Kerr

Mourning for Moabites on Lyres of Love?

I've just read Isaiah's second oracle to the nations (15:1-16:14): what hit home like a thunderbolt is Yahweh's sorrow for sinners, who in 3 years will be slaughtered.

The prophetic-vision drone sweeps round from North to South, surveying a scene of calamitous carnage - cities, shrines, crops & waterways echo with chilling shrieks, and drip with blood, as Moab is ravaged by terror, with fugitives in flight.

It is true, of course, that impending barrenness, bulldozing & bloodshed was their timely just reward for centuries of evil, vice, brutality, pride & infanticidal false religious rites - they, like we their fellow-rebels, had none but self to blame.

Transparently, however, heartless lack of concern is NO attribute of Yahweh: the converse is true - the LORD expresses sorrow over the tragic doom of the wicked.

Therefore my inner parts moan like a lyre for Moab, and my inmost self for Kir-Hareseth (a southern Moabite city in highlands perched above the Dead Sea) - Isaiah 16:11

Already Moabite refugees were offered asylum among Jews: an 'Open-Door' mission policy was implemented by the LORD - this was in order to welcome back into the fold any penitent cousin who took the trek back along Jehovah's advised escape-hatch down south.

Send the lamb to the ruler of the land, from Sela, by way of the desert, to the mount of the daughter of Zion ...Give counsel, grant justice, make your shade like night at the height of noon; shelter the outcasts, do not reveal the fugitive, let the outcasts of Moab sojourn among you - Isaiah 16:1-4b

One might almost think this was like the Book of Ruth going into reverse - how, in time of famine, pagan families, of Ruth & Orpah, fed & watered Elimelech, Naomi, Mahlon & Chilion.

How can we forget loving-kindness of a forlorn Moabitess - just as she took refuge in the wings of Israel's God, so later grief-stricken refugees are now invited by the prophet to shelter in the shade of, and then get straightened out by, the "greater-than-Boaz" anointed kinsman-redeemer of Yahweh - He, in more than one way, shares the flesh & blood of Moab:

Then a throne will be established in steadfast love, and on it will sit in faithfulness in the Tent of David one who judges and seeks justice and is swift to do righteousness - Isaiah 16:5.

It was in the womb of Moab that David's Messianic line, in the form of Obed, was conceived by Boaz and spent 9 months of confinement - now these rebellious, chastened, pagans are called to take refuge in their common bloodline descendent.

Of course, by this historical juncture, the writing was on the wall for the theocratic Jewish state - they will barely escape, by the skin of their teeth, from the Assyrian rod of wrath in BC 733 & 701: after Hezekiah would come evil apostate Manasseh - even reform under Josiah will not stop the ticking 'exile-is-certain' clock.

Yet, after triplex-exile from BC 603-586, Jews will return in haste, aided by Persian overlords, to await the Son of David - it is Messiah who will shelter weary, sin-scorched, heads: it is Jesus who provides a safe-house for faithful, gathered, saints from Jews & Gentile tribes (including Moab, Egypt & Assyria).

I've never plucked a lyre to recall is doleful tone: but a mark of the Spirit at work deep within our hearts is an aching, godly, concern for God's stray sheep who are lost & under threat. That's why it is hardly a surprise, to find in Isaiah 53, that the King who offers shade is a substitute striped & stricken for guilt, in his action for the redeeming, retrieval, of lost sheep:

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned-- every one-- to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all - Isaiah 53:4-6

In order to drive this home, let's not forget that, as Gentiles grafted in, we are mostly the fugitive Moabites in this text: rejoice & delight in the free offer of gracious pardon, shelter & welcome to God in Christ.

Yet, as now-grafted-in "true Jews" who walk in our father Abraham's footsteps of faith, we also need to repent: if moaning like a lyre is missing from our midst, let us ask for covering, cleansing, cure and conformity to the LORD, by the Spirit of Christ.

Pray that the pardoning, purifying & powerful effects of the blood of the Slain-Lamb-King of Calvary will be applied continually to all christian congregants.

Cry out, once more, for a heart of compassion that moans in the Spirit & swings wide-open to sinners - so that many in these days, for whom King Jesus died, would hurry south for shelter, before veering north, to climb up Calvary's slope.

Here at the foot of His cursed rugged Cross, outside Mount Zion's walls, is just, true, peace and safety, under Christ's crimson, protective, wings.

Andrew Kerr

Andrew Kerr

Pastor of Ridgefield Park NJ (NYC Metro Area) - Husband of Hazel, Dad to Rebekah, Paul & Andrew, Father-in-Law to Matt, Loves Skiing, Dog Walking. Passionate for Old Testament - in Deep Need of Grace

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