Daily Reflections May 17, 2017
Perhaps one of the biggest obstacles that we face as Bible readers is our ignorance of Ancient Middle Eastern history. Today’s text falls in the middle of a long list of oracles against the nations. Isaiah has received revelation from God concerning the future of the political powers of his day. He has been commissioned to proclaim this news but the message is ominous. He proclaims oracles against Babylon, Assyria, the Philistines, Damascus, and Moab, to name only a few. If you read today’s chapter and asked the question, “Who is Moab and why do I need to read this?” then you are running into a familiar frustration for many Bible readers.
But don’t give up. Today, let’s press in and deal with that first question: Who is Moab?
If you’re doing the 1 year reading plan, then you recently read in Numbers 25 how king Balak tried to pay Balaam to curse the Israelites. Balak was the king of Moab. In fact, as we look at the history of the Moabites and the Israelites we see constant turmoil and animosity. Herbert M. Wolf notes in his commentary on Isaiah:
“As a general rule, when the Moabites were not in subjection to Israel, they enjoyed making raids across the Jordan River. (2 Kings 13:20)” (Wolf, 117)
So who is Moab? It is a nation that is perpetually at war with God’s people.
The second question is this: Why do I need to read this?
That is a fair question. What does an oracle against an Ancient Middle Eastern nation have to say to us today? Well, as we should expect from the Word of God, this passage says a great deal. Here are three quick takeaways:
1. All of the enemies of God will ultimately face judgement. Isaiah tells the Moabites that their vineyards are going to be destroyed, and that they will wail when they are finally struck down. In verse 14, we are told that the glory of Moab will be despised within three years. God is a consuming fire, and even the mightiest nation can be brought to its knees in an instant.
2. The Moabites are brought down because they refused to humble themselves before the one true God. Moab is portrayed as prideful and haughty. She sees her mighty warriors and her plentiful resources and she believes herself to be untouchable. We as a nation have much in common with Moab. In verse 12, when she sees her incoming doom, the nation of Moab turns to her false god Chemosh to pray. Of course, there is no answer because Chemosh is no god at all.
3. There is a glimmer of hope in this passage, even for a nation as rebellious and destitute as Moab. In verse 5 we are told that God will put a just and righteous King on the throne who will rule in the tabernacle of David. There is a place where even the wicked Moabite can come for rescue. If they will humble themselves to the rule of God’s appointed King, they will enjoy his rule and protection.
Come ye sinners, poor and needy. Come Moabite and Assyrian. Come Canadian and American. Let go of your pride, stop trusting in yourself, turn away from your idols and bow before Jesus Christ. Jesus stands ready to save you, full of pity, love and power.
Pastor Levi denBok
1 Peter 4
The Word of God deals in reality. The Bible is intensely practical. In many parts of the world, being a Christ-follower costs a great deal. How therefore, do we conduct ourselves in a hostile world, when our time here is short, when the end of all things is at hand? As a summary, Peter tells us, ‘with your hand in the hand of God, and trusting in him, continue to do good’ (see verse 19). He gives us three directives:
First, believer, do good by living intentionally. We live in troubled times, and the Lord may return at any moment, so we must be focused, self-controlled and sober-minded.
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. (1 Peter 4:7 ESV)
Second, do good by loving deeply. The New Testament is filled with God’s heart and directives for how the community of faith is to live and worship together. Love is to be our main descriptor.
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8 ESV)
Third, do good by serving faithfully. The battle for truth rages on, but believer, we are to serve with the strength of God, using the gifts of God, for the glory of God.
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace. (1 Peter 4:10 ESV)
In our living, loving and serving, we must keep the work and person of Jesus front and center in our thinking. We are to be armed with the “Jesus way” of living and of suffering.
Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin. (1 Peter 4:1 ESV)
Jesus in his obedience to the will of God suffered (1 Peter 3:18). Like him, we are to have the same resolve. We are often surprised when suffering comes like it is something that has escaped God’s notice and really shouldn’t be part of our victorious Christian life.
Know this however - suffering is part of the Christian life and in no way means God doesn’t love us. Therefore, resolve that you are done with living in the passions of the flesh. Resolve that regardless of the cost, living for Christ is your highest goal and joy.
How do we endure suffering? Know that it is good for us! It hardly feels that way, but the Word of God tells us that in the testing of suffering, it sanctifies, stripping us of undue attachments to this world. Suffering also frees us to love and do the will of God. Suffering helps us anticipate a coming glory that is infinitely greater than any pain on this earth. It will be worth it all.
How do we continue on when life is hard, when you pay a high price for your stand for the gospel?
Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. (1 Peter 4:19 ESV)
Entrust your life to your faithful Creator, and keep on, keeping on. We do this so,
...that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11)
He is worth it all!
Associate Pastor Jody Cross