3/26/2015

Pride Rejects God's Gracious Promises of Salvation (Isaiah 15-16)

Isaiah 16:1-14; 4b-5

"Make up your mind," Moab says. "Render a decision. Make your shadow like night—at high noon. Hide the fugitives, do not betray the refugees.Let the Moabite fugitives stay with you; be their shelter from the destroyer." The oppressor will come to an end, and destruction will cease; the aggressor will vanish from the land.In love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a man will sit on it—one from the house of David—one who in judging seeks justice and speeds the cause of righteousness. We have heard of Moab's pride—how great is her arrogance!—of her conceit, her pride and her insolence; but her boasts are empty
(Isa 16:3-6).

Theme: Despite God's gracious offer of justice and righteousness, pride rejects it.
The whole book of Isaiah repeatedly expresses judgment and (or followed by) salvation, tragedy and triumph, devastation and deliverance, ruin and restoration/redemption, fall and finality. Basic to the whole book is that God, who is sovereign, has a plan of salvation which embraces all nations with Israel (God's people) being destined to play a central role in that plan.

Whom will you trust? Repeatedly through out Isaiah, God exposes the futility of man-centered hopes. It exposes the folly of self-sufficiency, pride and of trusting in man and relying on political alliances rather than God (Isa 7:9b; 31:1; Ps 20:7; 118:8-9).

Isaiah 13-27 contain prophetic judgments against the nations. These judgments would be in the immediate future of the prophetic vision, perhaps with the Assyrian invasion. But they also allude to eschatological judgments (last days) as found in Revelation 4-19. Isaiah 13-14 describe the prophecy against Babylon. Isaiah 15-16 is the prophecy against Moab to the east of Judah (Isa 15:1-16:14), while the prophecy against Philistines (Isa 14:28-32), is to the west of Judah. Regarding Moab, Isaiah 15-16 may be divided as follows:
  1. The lament (15:1-9). There was gloating and rejoicing at God's victory over evil in the demise of Babylon (ch. 13-14) without taking pleasure in the death of anyone or any nation. But there was no gloating here with Moab. The speaker's heart cries out for her (Isa 15:5a) and God executes judgment with tears in his eyes. There is also much wailing in Moab (Isa 15:2-5, 80. It is the despairing cry of those who are without hope because they have trusted in what is powerless to save them.
  2. The appeal (16:1-5).
  3. The reflection (16:6-11).
  4. Summary and appendix (16:12-14).
In more detail, Isaiah 16 alone may be viewed as:
  1. Moab's plea (1-4a).
  2. Isaiah's answer (4b-5).
  3. Moab's grief explained (6-8).
  4. The Lord's grief over Moab (9-12).
  5. Moab's imminent ruin (13-14).
In response to Moab's pleas (1-4a), Isaiah graciously responds (4b-5). Zion's strength is not in military resources, but in the Lord and in the Davidic monarchy to whom made divine promises. He replies that the present crises will pass (Isa 16:4b), but that the throne of David will endure (Isa 16:5). The clear implication is that if Moab wants a secure future, they must come in on a faith basis and depend on the Lord's promises to David. Isaiah's offer is an escape from the pressures and uncertainties into the calm certainties of faith and hope. What does Isaiah offer?
  1. An Unchanging God
    • "Love" is hesed (Isa 16:5a), the Lord's covenanted and therefore unchanging commitment to his people, his steadfastness, unmoved by changing times or experiences, undeviating even when they, his people, proved faithless.
  2. A Perpetual Kingdom
    • "...a throne will be established" (Isa 16:5b; 2 Sam 7:11, 13, 16) contrasts with what Moab was experiencing: the fickleness of human political maneuvers.
  3. An Undoubted King
    • "...the house of David" (Isa 16:5c). Unlike many kings, David was not an usurper. He belonged to a true lineage, as he is the inheritor of the promises made to him (2 Sam 7:15-16). "House" has the nuance of "home" rather than merely an address. The king is a genuine descendant of David, living by right in David's personal home.
  4. The King's Rule in Faithfulness, Justice and Righteousness
    • Faithfulness (Isa 16:1b) is the opposite of fickleness and unreliability. "Justice" and "righteousness" (Isa 16:5d; Ps 89:14) are the very attributes of this King, while the rules of the world incline toward favoritism, bias, prejudices and unrighteousness in order to achieve their own ends.
Based on these offers to Moab's appeal and request for help, Isaiah was offering them Zion's messianic best. All who appeal to Zion are welcome under the banner of the house of David.

References:
  1. Isaiah: Title of each chapter and commentary. Matthew Henry Complete Commentary: Isaiah.
  2. Outline of Isaiah 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 —Oracles to various kingdoms.
    • Philistia (of the Philistines) along the coastal plains wishes to be an ally of Judah against Assyria, but these old foes of Judah are doomed and their messengers will be told "The Lord has founded Zion" (Isa 14:28-32).
    • Moab is going to be destroyed by Assyria too. Moab's pride leads to its downfall. God is compassionate to Moab and Judah is to accept the refugees into the kingdom(Isaiah 15-16). Ruth, David's great grandmother, was a Moabite.
    • Damascus and Ephraim (Syria/Aram and Israel) are going to fall to the Assyrians (Isaiah 17) in 732 B.C. and 722 B.C. respectively. Israel made an ally of Syria/Aram and together they attacked Judah. Ephraim was Israel's main tribe. It was descended from Joseph. Damascus is Syria's capital city.
    • Ethiopia also known as Cush, is a distant and powerful nation, yet even it will feel the blade of Assyria. Ethiopia will see Mount Zion (Jerusalem) stand, and send a gift of homage to its God the Lord of hosts (Isa 18).
    • Egypt is idolatrous and will not escape the Lord's hand (Isa 19:1).
  3. God Establishes a Throne in Love (Isaiah 15,16). My daily bread from Dec 2010.
    • In Isa 16:1-5, fugitive Moab begs Zion for asylum. God's reply to Moab's plea for safety from Assyrian oppression is the messianic throne of David, full of divine integrity, but also demanding submission (Isa 9:711:4,5,10;55:3). Isa 16:5 says, "In love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a man will sit on it—one from the house of David—one who in judging seeks justice and speeds the cause of righteousness." Ultimately, only in Jesus, the Son of David, the nations find shelter (Acts 15:16,17). But Moab's proud rejection of the Davidic throne (Jer 48:42) is their doom (Isa 16:6-12). God will break her pride in 3 years (Isa 16:13,14) through Sargon, who overran the country.
  4. You Have Forgotten God (Isaiah 17,18) (Isa 17:10). My daily bread from Dec 2010.
    • The 4th oracle concerns the Syria-Israel alliance of Isaiah's time (Isa 7:1-168:1-4). The repeated point Isaiah makes is simple: How foolish man (Israel) trusts in visible tangible security (such as Syria, which is Aram), rather than trusting in God Almighty, whose purposes will always prevail and will never be thwarted (Isa 14:27).
  5. God Strikes, God Heals (Isaiah 19); Trust God, Not Man (Isaiah 20). My daily bread from Dec 2010.