Saving Moab

Author’s Note: This was not a devotional, but a blog originally published in July of 2011.

Read this if you have ever thought, “God is a disciplinarian who sits around in Heaven, takes his little finger, and swirls it around in my life to have a quick laugh.”  I have a friend who believes this, so you can admit it too.  Surprise upon surprise, this is not the truth.  But don’t believe me, look it up for yourself.

Jeremiah 48 is about Moab. Moab was not always friendly neighbors to the southern nation of Israel.  The people descended from Lot (Genesis 19:30-38), and in fact, the modern day Palestinians might have some Moab blood in them.  They did not worship the Lord.  Archeologists found a temple to the “God of Mars” in their country.[1]  Kir Hareseth, also known as Kir Heres was the capital city.  Remember these facts as we scourer Jeremiah 48.

Other notes to take into consideration is that Moab makes an appearance in Genesis 14, Deuteronomy 2, Numbers 21-22 and 31, 2 Kings 3, Isaiah 15-16, and Ruth.  Ruth makes her new home with Naomi in the same land that approximately 700 years later faces Jeremiah’s prophesies.  Jeremiah’s contemporaries knew about Moab.

Now let’s see what Jeremiah 48 has to do with those that believe God lives in the clouds.  What grabbed my attention came in verse 36 from the New English Translation (NET):  “So my heart moans for Moab like a flute playing a funeral song.  Yes, like a flute playing a funeral song, my heart moans for the people of Kir Heres.  For the wealth they have gained will perish.”  It sounds like Isaiah 16:11, NET:  “So my heart constantly sighs for Moab, like the strumming of a harp, my inner being sighs for Kir Hareseth.”  Kir Heres and Kir Hareseth were the same capital city of Moab.

Moab is not Israel, God’s chosen people. So why does God care?  Why does his “heart constantly sighs for Moab” (Jeremiah 48:36)?  God didn’t change over time, so was he just playing nice and lumping the region into this destruction and slight compassion like some think he does today?  Did he swirl his little finger in Moab to have a quick laugh?

You can’t catch the tenderness of this verse in Jeremiah without reading the rest of the 47 verses in Jeremiah 48.  Most of them talk about “cries of great havoc and destruction” (verse 3), or demands the people to “wail and cry out” (verse 20) because Moab’s towns have “overweening pride and conceit, her pride and arrogance and the haughtiness of her heart”  (verse 29).  The people were prideful and ignored God.  That’s the reason for all the destruction.  All the threats add up to the window into God’s heart seen in verse 36.  God disciplines, but he does it out of love, whether Moab belongs to him or not.

This says two things to me.  1) God has compassion on everyone.  Whether you love him or not, he still loves you and weeps over prideful decisions that cause you to move farther away from him.  Moab wanted nothing to do with God, and he still had a sensitivity towards them that caused him to look out for their future.  2) God has affection for all creation, including me.  Including you.

So if Moab seems to reflect the thought process towards God, read Jeremiah 48.  Not only does he present some scathing futures, but also allows the reader to see the motivation.  He doesn’t act to have a laugh.  He acts to save people from destruction.

Photo by Khadeeja Yasser on Unsplash

© 2011, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.molliebond.org.


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