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independent witnesses, both to the truth of the things written in the Bible history, and to the marvellous foreknowledge of events manifested in the Bible prophecies.
But besides these greater nations of old times, there were others of less note, which being close to the confines of Judea, were of great consequence, either as friends or as enemies, to the commonwealth of Israel. Such were the Philistines for instance, mentioned at the close of the last chapter; and such the Moabites, whose burden is here proclaimed. Of these smaller nations little notice is taken in any records of ancient history, except those which the Scriptures contain. Here therefore we have not the same materials to assist us, in shewing the fulfilment of the prophecies. But we can readily understand, that these parts of the prophetic volume were not less profitable to the Israelites of old, than those which relate to the most mighty empires. For in the events which befel these their nearer neighbours, they would take the more lively interest. And though the events themselves might not be of such large importance, the proof of God's foreseeing, and overruling all things, would be quite as striking, to those who beheld it
, on a small scale, as on a large one. Even as we find that it holds good in contemplating God's wondrous work, in the creation of the universe ; wherein, if we are lost in reverential awe, when we calculate the extent and splendour of those distant orbs, which shine in the firmament above, we are no less deeply impressed with the power, the wisdom, and the goodness, of Him who created all things, when we examine with due attention the world we live in, or the least amongst the multitude of creatures which He has appointed to share our habitation.
“ The burden of Moab” refers to the taking of two of their chief cities in the night, describes the weeping and mourning of the Moabites in different places, and the usual tokens of mourning, cutting off the hair, and putting on sackcloth. Other towns are next mentioned as lamenting, even the armed men crying out, and the prophet himself sympathizing in the sorrow he describes. The running away of fugitives like cattle, the failure of vegetation, the spoiling of goods, rivers flowing with blood, and lions to prey on the few whom the enemy had spared, fill
this mournful prophecy of coming woe, and warn us that the sins of nations, no less than those of individuals, will surely find them out. See Num. 32. 23. Yes, doubtless it was for the sins of Moab that these judgments were inflicted. And doubtless the like judgments, now inflicted by the nations on each other, are chastisements for sin appointed by the Lord. It may seem no more than that the strong are spoiling the weak, the violent preying on the peaceable. But of a truth it is God who is chastising for sin, overruling the wars and fightings of men, for the execution of his own righteous judgments.
The burden of Moab is concluded. i Send ye the lamb to the plants thereof, they are ruler of the land from Sela to even unto Jazer, they wanderthe wilderness, unto the mount ed through the wilderness: her of the daughter of Zion. branches are stretched out, they 2 For it shall be, that, as a
over the sea. wandering bird cast out of the 9 Therefore I will bewail nest, so the daughters of Moab with the weeping of Jazer the shall be at the fords of Arnon. vine of Sibmah: I will water
3 Take counsel, execute judg- thee with my tears, O Heshbon, ment; make thy shadow as the and Elealeh: for the shouting night in the midst of the noon- for thy summer fruits and for day; hide the outcasts; bewray thy harvest is fallen. not him that wandereth.
10 And gladness is taken away, 4 Let mine outcasts dwell with and joy out of the plentiful thee, Moab; be thou a covert field; and in the vineyards there to them from the face of the shall be no singing, neither spoiler : for the extortioner is shall there be shouting: the at an end, the spoiler ceaseth, treaders shall tread out no wine the oppressors are consumed in their presses ; I have made out of the land.
their vintage shouting to cease. 5 And in mercy shall the 11 Wherefore my bowels shall throne be established: and he sound like an harp for Moab, shall sit upon it in truth in the and mine inward parts for Kirtabernacle of David, judging, haresh. and seeking judgment, and 12 And it shall come to pass, hasting righteousness.
when it is seen that Moab is 6 We have heard of the pride weary on the high place, that he of Moab; he is very proud; shall come to his sanctuary to even of his haughtiness, and his pray; but he shall not prevail. pride, and his wrath: but his 13 This is the word that the lies shall not be so.
Lord hath spoken concerning 7 Therefore shall Moab howl Moab since that time. for Moab, every one shall howl : 14 But now the LORD hath for the foundations of Kir-ha- spoken, saying, Within three reseth shall ye mourn ; surely years, as the years of an hirethey are stricken.
ling, and the glory of Moab 8 For the fields of Heshbon shall be contemned, with all languish, and the vine of Sib- that great multitude; and the mah: the lords of the heathen remnant shall be very small and have broken down the principal feeble.
LECTURE 1117. The fulfilment of God's sentence, though secret, is sure. It is recorded in the book of Kings, that “Mesha king of Moab was a sheep master, and rendered unto the king of Israel an hundred thousand lambs, and an hundred thousand rams, with the
wool.” 2 Kings 3. 4. Probably some such tribute is intended, when the prophet, at the beginning of this chapter, urges Moab to send “the lamb unto the mount of the daughter of Zion.” For the daughters of Moab, he tells them, should soon be in distress, and be in need of the protection of Jerusalem; though the Moabites, as it seems to be here hinted, had refused shelter to the outcasts of Judah. For this cruelty and pride Moab must be desolate, when the kingdom of Judah would be reestablished in peace and prosperity. The “fields of Heshbon,” and “the vine of Sibmah” must be a spoil to some
heathen conqueror; and all plenty and rejoicing must cease out of the land, and be succeeded by such misery, as to move deep compassion in the heart of him who foretold it. Then should the Moabites have recourse, but all in vain, to their high places, and to their sanctuary; seeing that they were worshippers of them that were no gods. And within three years from a certain time here fixt, the glory of Moab should be made contemptible, and the multitude of the Moabites should be reduced to a very small and feeble remnant.
In the terms of this whole prophecy there is much that is obscure. And there is still more difficulty in deciding when it was fulfilled; a difficulty arising from the silence of history as to the events here foretold. But we know enough of the Moabites to be aware, that the sin of this people was great before the Lord. Not to dwell upon their unhallowed origin, we find them guilty
great sins, and of tempting the Israelites to great wickedness, during their journeyings from the wilderness to the promised land. See Num. 25. 1-3. And at that early period, we find this proverb in the mouth of the people of the Lord; “Woe to thee Moab ! thou art undone, O people of Chemosh.” Num. 21.
Instances of their superstition and cruelty occur in other parts of Scripture. See 2 Kings 3. 27, Amos 2. 1. And though the execution of the judgments here foretold is no where set down in Scripture history, it is enough for us to know that they were denounced by God, and we can have no doubt that they were fulfilled. He whose word could bring to nothing imperial Babylon, and its victorious king, had but to decree the sentence of Moab, and its doom was unalterably fixt. Judgments, like sins, are some open, and some secret. See 1 Tim. 5. 25. And many of those amongst ourselves, in whom we see no outward sign that they are suffering for their notorious transgressions, are already preyed upon within, by a foretaste of that worm that never dies, and of that fire which is never quenched.
The burden of Damascus and of Israel. i The burden of Damascus. the groves, or the images. Behold, Damascus is taken 9 In that day shall his strong away from being a city, and it cities be as a forsaken bough, shall be a ruinous heap. and an uppermost branch, which
2 The cities of Aroer are for- they left because of the children saken: they shall be for flocks, of Israel: and there shall be dewhich shall lie down, and none solation. shall make them afraid.
10 Because thou hast forgotten 3 The fortress also shall cease the God of thy salvation, and from Ephraim, and the kingdom hast not been mindful of the from Damascus, and the rem- rock of thy strength, therefore nant of Syria: they shall be as shalt thou plant pleasant plants, the glory of the children of and shalt set it with strange Israel, saith the Lord of hosts. slips :
4 And in that day it shall come 11 In the day shalt thou make to pass, that the glory of Jacob thy plant to grow, and in the shall be made thin, and the fat- morning shalt thou make thy ness of his flesh shall wax lean. seed to flourish : but the harvest
5 And it shall be as when the shall be a heap in the day of harvestman gathereth the corn, grief and of desperate sorrow. and reapeth the ears with his 12 Woe to the multitude of arm; and it shall be as he that many people, which make a gathereth ears in the valley of noise like the noise of the seas; Rephaim.
and to the rushing of nations, 6 Yet gleaning grapes shall that make a rushing like the be left in it, as the shaking of rushing of mighty waters ! an olive tree, two or three ber- 13 The nations shall rush like ries in the top of the upper- the rushing of many waters : most bough, four or five in the but God shall rebuke them, and outmost fruitful branches there- they shall flee far off, and shall of, saith the Lord God of Israel. be chased as the chaff of the
7 At that day shall a man look mountains before the wind, and to his Maker, and his eyes shall like a rolling thing before the have respect to the Holy One whirlwind. of Israel.
14 And behold at eventide 8 And he shall not look to the trouble; and before the mornaltars, the work of his hands, ing he is not. This is the porneither shall respect that which tion of them that spoil us, and his fingers have made, either the lot of them that rob us.
LECTURE 1118. Evil, though overruled for good, is no less liable to punishment.
The prophet Amos makes mention of the wickedness of Damascus, in terms which shew that the judgments here denounced upon that city were most amply deserved. See Amos 1. 4. But Damascus made common cause with Israel in vexing Judah. And therefore the prophet passes on to the calamities impending over Israel. He beholds the cities near to Aroer forsaken, and the strongholds of Ephraim overthrown > and both the glory of Damascus, and that of Israel, overtaken by a common ruin. It was indeed the same monarch of Assyria who cut Israel short, in the days of Pekah, and who, at the instigation of Ahaz king of Judah, took Damascus, and took captive its inhabitants. See 2 Kings 15. 29. 16. 9. And it was after the desolation of Israel by Tiglath-pileser, that some few amongst the remnant left behind, turned, as here predicted, to God their Maker, and shewed "respect to the Holy One of Israel.” At the invitation of Hezekiah, when he was about to keep the passover, 66 divers of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem.” 2 Chron. 30. 11. Even then however the strong cities of Israel were but “ as a forsaken bough, and an uppermost branch;" that is to say; their inhabitants were few in number, like the fruit left on a high branch as not worth the labour of reaching it. And even of this remnant the greater part were doomed to cherish their fatal love of idol worship. They would continue to plant images, and would set their land full of strange gods, as though with slips of foreign trees, until they reaped an abundant harvest, “in the day of grief and desperate sorrow," until they were finally and utterly removed out of the land. See 2 Kings 17. 6—23.
From this painful vision of Israel's desolation, how consoling to turn, as the prophet now turns, to the miraculous deliverance of Judah, under the reign of the good king Hezekiah ; the deliverance from the army of Sennacherib. The forces which had destroyed Israel are seen to advance after a short respite, under another king, to defy Jerusalem. The noise of their multitude is heard “ like the rushing of mighty waters.” But He who can still the raging of the sea when its anger is at the height, had resolved to rebuke this proud invader, and his mighty host; to chase them as chaff before the wind, and as a cloud' before the whirlwind. “ And behold at eventide trouble; and before the morning he is not. This is the portion of them that spoil us, and the lot of them that rob us.” Yes, though that spoiling was appointed by God to be for the chastisement of his people, though the Assyrian was the rod of his anger, see ch. 10. 5, first to lay waste Israel, and hereafter also to level Jerusalem to the ground, yet must the destroyer be himself destroyed. His pride, ambition, covetousness, and cruelty, are not excused, but are rather so much the more inexcusable, for being directed against the people of the Lord. Let not then the wicked presume that they are safe, because God overrules their wickedness for good. But rather let them tremble to reflect, that He can and will make their punishment, as well as their wickedness, redound to the benefit of his people, and to his own divine glory.