Judgment on Moab (Jeremiah 48:26-47)

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I. The Futility of Moab’s Insolence (48:26–30)
26 “Make him drunk, Because he exalted himself against the LORD. Moab shall wallow in his vomit, And he shall also be in derision. 27 For was not Israel a derision to you? Was he found among thieves? For whenever you speak of him, You shake your head in scorn. 28 You who dwell in Moab, Leave the cities and dwell in the rock, And be like the dove which makes her nest In the sides of the cave’s mouth. 29 “We have heard the pride of Moab (He is exceedingly proud), Of his loftiness and arrogance and pride, And of the haughtiness of his heart.” 30 “I know his wrath,” says the LORD, “But it is not right; His lies have made nothing right.
A. The nation was drunk from the cup that God gave it.
Like someone at a drunken party, he was vomiting and wallowing in his own vomit. It describes the confusion and helplessness of Moab before the invader.
“Moab shall wallow in his vomit” is a disgusting picture of its total degradation. The point of the abhorrent metaphor is that Moab would now become an object of ridicule just as Israel had been ridiculed by Moab. Israel had not been caught in any criminal act that would deserve Moab’s scorn.
B. The image then changes to that of a dove hiding in a cave, wondering what will happen next.
The Babylonians are pictured as an eagle swooping down on its prey; a dove is no match for an eagle.
Moab’s chief problem was her pride, but pride was not Moab’s only failing. Moab trusted in its own resources, its wealth, and its skill. These shortcomings, serious in themselves, should perhaps be understood as subsidiary to the major evil, excessive pride and arrogance. Moab’s insolence would be silenced, however, and its boasting was idle talk that would accomplish nothing.
II. A Lament for Moab (48:31–39)
31 Therefore I will wail for Moab, And I will cry out for all Moab; I will mourn for the men of Kir Heres. 32 O vine of Sibmah! I will weep for you with the weeping of Jazer. Your plants have gone over the sea, They reach to the sea of Jazer. The plunderer has fallen on your summer fruit and your vintage. 33 Joy and gladness are taken From the plentiful field And from the land of Moab; I have caused wine to fail from the winepresses; No one will tread with joyous shouting—Not joyous shouting! 34 “From the cry of Heshbon to Elealeh and to Jahaz They have uttered their voice, From Zoar to Horonaim, Like a three-year-old heifer; For the waters of Nimrim also shall be desolate. 35 “Moreover,” says the LORD,“I will cause to cease in Moab The one who offers sacrifices in the high places And burns incense to his gods. 36 Therefore My heart shall wail like flutes for Moab, And like flutes My heart shall wail For the men of Kir Heres. Therefore the riches they have acquired have perished. 37 “For every head shall be bald, and every beard clipped; On all the hands shall be cuts, and on the loins sackcloth—38 A general lamentation On all the housetops of Moab, And in its streets; For I have broken Moab like a vessel in which is no pleasure,” says the LORD. 39 “They shall wail: ‘How she is broken down! How Moab has turned her back with shame! ’So Moab shall be a derision And a dismay to all those about her.”
A. Jeremiah wept over the fall of Moab.
God expressed His concern for Moab as He mourned for Kir Hareseth, another of it’s chief cities. Jeremiah indicated that God would weep along with the city of Jazer for the vines of Sibmah which had been destroyed.
The country of Moab was known for its vineyards, and Jeremiah expanded the image to picture all Moab as a vineyard. Her branches had spread as far as the Dead Sea, but now the destroyer had fallen on her ripened fruit and grapes. Moab would be “harvested” much as a vine is plucked of its fruit. Orchards and fields would be devoid of happiness, and the flow of wine from the presses would cease. When destruction came there would be shouts but they would not be shouts of joy like those heard before.
B. Jeremiah’s lament (or God’s?) would be like a flute, an instrument played at funerals.
Mourning would be openly expressed on rooftops and in the public squares. Moab was beyond hope, unwanted and useless like a jar that has been broken and tossed away.
The lament closes with a description of a shattered nation, shamed and an object of ridicule and horror to the nations roundabout. Its downfall was caused by its insufferable pride, its complacency, and confidence in its idols. These were the same sins that brought Israel’s downfall and are sins still displeasing to God.
III. Moab’s Punishment and Restoration (48:40–47)
40 For thus says the LORD: “Behold, one shall fly like an eagle, And spread his wings over Moab. 41 Kerioth is taken, And the strongholds are surprised; The mighty men’s hearts in Moab on that day shall be Like the heart of a woman in birth pangs. 42 And Moab shall be destroyed as a people, Because he exalted himself against the LORD. 43 Fear and the pit and the snare shall be upon you, O inhabitant of Moab,” says the LORD. 44 “He who flees from the fear shall fall into the pit, And he who gets out of the pit shall be caught in the snare. For upon Moab, upon it I will bring The year of their punishment,” says the LORD. 45 “Those who fled stood under the shadow of Heshbon Because of exhaustion. But a fire shall come out of Heshbon, A flame from the midst of Sihon,And shall devour the brow of Moab, The crown of the head of the sons of tumult. 46 Woe to you, O Moab! The people of Chemosh perish; For your sons have been taken captive, And your daughters captive. 47 “Yet I will bring back the captives of Moab In the latter days,” says the LORD.Thus far is the judgment of Moab.
A. The enemy is described as an eagle swooping down over Moab.
Moab’s enemies were like an eagle that would be swooping down and spreading its wings over her to seize her in its claws. The Moabites would be captured, and the warriors she depended on for protection (cf. v. 14) would be as fearful as a woman in labor.
Lest Moab think her captivity was just accidental, God reminded her that her destruction would come because she defied Him. In view of her rebellion, none would escape; those who would try to flee God’s terror would fall into a pit. Any who managed to get out of the pit would be caught in a snare. God would make sure that all in Moab would take part in the year of her punishment.
B. Jeremiah ended with a promise.
The fugitives who had escaped the destruction stood by helpless because God’s fire of judgment had gone out into all Moab to burn those who had been boasters. Now the nation was destroyed, with her sons and daughters in captivity.
Yet God still offered hope to Moab. He vowed to restore the fortunes of Moab in days to come. The use of “days to come” would imply that this restoration will occur during the millennial reign of Christ. For lost sinners today, their only hope is faith in Jesus Christ, who died for the sins of the world. They need to flee for refuge to Christ —the only refuge for their souls.
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