May 25, 2017 • Life for Leaders
A prophecy against Moab: Arc in Moab is ruined, destroyed in a night! Kir in Moab is ruined, destroyed in a night!
Do you ever read a passage of Scripture and wonder, “How in the world is this relevant for me?” It might be an obscure law in Leviticus or the counting of the Israelites in numbers. Or it could be Isaiah 15, which reveals the coming judgment of Moab. Is there anything here for us today?
Yes, I think so. In God’s judgment of Moab, there are lessons to be learned, and truths to be discovered.
First, however, we need to know something about Moab. The nation of Moab lay to the east of the Dead Sea. It traced its history back to the man, Moab, who was the son of Lot, Abraham’s nephew. Lot impregnated his own daughters, one of whom gave birth to Moab (Gen 19:36-37). The nation of Moab was in a sense a cousin to Israel, though their relationship wasn’t particularly friendly, partly because the Moabites were pagans. Moreover, during the eighth-century B.C., Moab drew close to Assyria, Israel’s enemy and destroyer. Thus Moab earned God’s wrath and pending judgment.
What do we learn from the prophecy of Isaiah against Moab?
First, we’re reminded that the Lord is a God of justice and judgment. He does not wink at sin, even the sin of pagan peoples. All human beings are called to live by God’s justice and all human beings stand guilty of failing to reach this standard.
Second, we see in the oracles against Moab an implicit assumption that God is sovereign over all nations. He is not simply the god of Israel, but the God of Heaven and Earth. All human institutions, whether governments, businesses, churches, or college football teams, are subject to God’s authority. Of course many institutions fail to recognize this truth, just as many people reject the Lord. But, nevertheless, our God is King of kings and Lord of lords, and he has rightful authority over everything.
Third, Isaiah’s prophecy underscores the fact that when we live contrary to God’s ways there are dire consequences. Sometimes these consequences come through direct divine action. Often, though, these consequences are what we might call “built in.” For example, God has created us as people who are to work and rest (Exod 20:9-11). In our day, most people get the work part, often to an extreme. Where we fail is in resting. The demands of our workplaces, the omnipresence of our smartphones, and our own desire for accomplishment can lead us to work day after day, hour after hour, without taking time to step back from work and rest. When we live this way, we might experience professional success, but, in time, we will pay the price in weakened health, broken relationships, and a reduced capacity for wisdom.
So, as we read of God’s judgment against Moab, may we be encouraged to walk in God’s ways, to be holy as God is holy, so that we might flourish in this life, honoring the Lord in all we do.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
What difference does God’s sovereignty over all things make to you?
How might you live if you truly believed that God was sovereign over every aspect of your life?
Where are you falling short in living as God expects of you?
Gracious God, I must admit that sometimes it’s hard for me to grasp your sovereignty over all nations. I don’t have any problem confessing this or believing it in principle. Yet when I see what’s happening in our world, when I see wars and oppression, it’s difficult to understand why you stand back.
But I’m giving my perplexity to you. I realize that there are many, many things I won’t fully understand during this life.
I do pray, Lord, adding my prayers to those of millions of believers throughout the world, that you will bring justice to this world. I pray especially for nations steeped in injustice, for North Korea, for the Sudan, and for many others. Even nations like my own, in which there is much goodness, are permeated with bias, hatred, and narcissism. Forgive us, Lord. Help us. Save us.
O Lord, let your kingdom come. Let your will be done on earth, as in heaven. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: Remember the Sabbath Day and Keep It Holy. Six Days You Shall Labor (Exodus 20:8-11)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.