Devotional

Isaiah Talks About Moab

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Isaiah 15,16

Moab in ancient days was a kingdom east of Israel, in the Transjordan highlands. The nation arose from Lot’s incestuous child by his eldest daughter, named Moab (Genesis 19:38). They were often at war with their Israelite neighbours to the west. However events recorded in the book of Ruth testify to occasions of friendly interaction between the two nations, from time to time at least between Bethlehem and Moab.

Perhaps because he descended from Ruth, a Moabite, we know David also had friendly relations. He committed his parents to the protection of the Moabite King when pursued by King Saul (1 Samuel 22:3-4). However, once David became king he made the Moabites a tributary, while placing them under the rule of a governor. That was the end of all friendly relations.

One small incident remains to be told. When the Israelites were returning to the Promised Land from Egypt, the Moabites denied them passage through their land, causing them a long detour around, heaping God’s judgment upon themselves (Judges 11:17-18). In His judgment on them, God referred to Moab as His “washpot”, a place of accumulated filth (Psalm 60:8).

Israel suffered political upheaval under King Rehoboam. Under him the Moabites may have been absorbed into the northern kingdom of Israel, where they continued in vassalage until the death of Ahab. Eventually they refused to pay tribute, asserting their independence and making war on Israel. Later they assisted Nebuchadnezzar in his aggression against King Jehoiakim in Israel.

Isaiah and Jeremiah both refer to the burden that Moab had become (Isaiah 15-16, Jeremiah 48:42). Isaiah identifies their pride as an abomination to God, as well as their utter contempt for Israel.

At the time of Ruth we believe child sacrifices were still offered to one of their many deities. Chemosh was their chief god (2 Kings 23:13). Their religious influence reached as far into history as Solomon, who erected a “High place” for Chemosh (1 Kings 11:7). Sadly this was not destroyed until the reign of Josiah.

Isaiah is given denunciations by God against other nations, Moab included. Some hold no hope…certain nations will be cut off forever, once God’s judgment falls. However, Isaiah records a couple of very interesting phrases regarding Moab. God says “My heart cries out over Moab.” (Isaiah 15:5). “My heart laments for Moab (Isaiah 16:11).

Reflection:

What is it about this particular nation of Moab, that created angst in the heart of God? (Jeremiah 48:36)

What is it about any of us that generates His great love?

Let us remember that the essence of God’s character is love. His heart is pained when He has to declare judgment, because His intention is for His people to walk with Him in paths of righteousness, for His name’s sake! (Psalm 23).

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Devotional · Uncategorized

Forfeit and Loss

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Matthew 16:24-28

Forfeiture is the loss of rights to one’s property and most often occurs because one has neglected one’s duty. Jesus cautioned His disciples against forfeiting something that is infinitely precious…one’s soul. The soul is not referred to much today. Many people want to be known as “spiritual” but where does the soul enter the picture? Why would these words of Jesus matter to people living in the 21st century? Is the soul something precious?

First of all, what is the soul? The dictionary defines it as the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being, that which is immortal, which will live forever. Where does this idea come from? In Genesis, in the Garden of Eden, God breathed life into Adam and he became a living soul (KJV).

This soul is of great value to God, for it is with the soul one worships God (Psalm 103:1), loves God (Deuteronomy 6:5), serves God (Joshua 22:5), yearns for God (Psalm 42:1), clings to God (Psalm 63:8) and so forth. The soul finds rest in God alone, according to the Psalmist (Psalm 62:5) and Jesus reiterated that in Matthew 11:29. The connection of our soul with God is unique to human beings who were made in His image.

 

When some part of the body is amputated, there is significant pain. When we ignore the needs of the soul or neglect to nurture it, our spirits become vulnerable to spiritual pain. Without recognizing it, this may become the most severe form of separation anxiety. We are choked by the cares of this world (Mark 4:19) and slowly the soul loses its vibrant life-force. We may even try to fill the void by using artificial limbs, but nothing can take the place of the real thing. Jesus identifies the frustration of such an attempt. “What can a man give in exchange for his own soul?” What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world yet forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

 

What happens to lost souls? Jesus is coming again. “He will reward each person according to what he has done” (Matthew 16:27). On the surface that might appear to be achievable…by our works we can then enter into heaven. Right? Wrong. God looks deep into the soul, judging it on the motivation for its deeds. The superficial action may look good to other people, but how does God see our hearts? Do we seek to bring Him glory by what we do? Has this good deed cost us anything? (Matthew 16:24).

 

Today so many are suffering spiritual pain – anxiety, depression, unresolved anger. Jesus longs to give these people rest. The man known for his wisdom wrote: “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30). A principle is spelled out by Jeremiah: “Stand at the crossroads and look [this is where we make choices]…ask where the good way is and walk in it and you will find rest for your souls”(Jeremiah 6:16).

Reflection:

Jesus, challenging His followers then and now, references our choices. Do we want to save our lives, do we fear death at the hands of our enemies so much that we might renounce the gospel? There are modern martyrs being beaten and imprisoned, and even put to death because they have refused to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ.

Or – are we willing to lose our lives in order to save them for eternity in heaven with Him, by remaining true to our faith? (Matthew 16:25).

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