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The way of address to Moab in the opening verse is noticeable: "Against Moab thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel." (Jeremiah 48:1) This brings out the close relationship of Moab and Israel. To none of the others in this group of nations does He introduce Himself as "the God of Israel."
Woes are pronounced upon Nebo, the mountain of Moab from whose summit Moses viewed the promised land; Kiriathaim, called in Numbers 32:37 Kirjathaim; and Misgab, a fortified city of which little is known.
In Heshbon, the city of "devices," as its name means, "they have devised evil against it." Madmen, that is, "dunghill," shall become a scene of carnage. Horonaim and Luhith shall be spoiled likewise. "There shall be no more praise of Moab" (Jeremiah 48:2-5).
The inhabitants are warned to flee and save their lives; to be "like the heath in the wilderness" (Jeremiah 48:6), as it is not GOD's purpose to utterly destroy them. The heath (literally, "the naked tree") referred to, is a desert shrub, having an abundance of vitality; so much so, that if a part be torn from the parent bush and carried away by the wind, it will take root where it may fall. The application of the figure to the remnant of Moab is plain. Their seed abides today, and shall remain even in the Millennium. In Jeremiah 17:6 the same figure is applied to the one who trusts in man, though there it is the nakedness of the plant to which attention is drawn.
Chemosh, the patron deity of Moab, was to be put to shame. He should go into captivity with his priests and his princes together. Upon every city the spoiler should come; for so the Lord had spoken (Jeremiah 48:7-8).
The only safety is in flight; for the Lord's curse rested upon him who should do the Lord's work of judgment negligently. It must be unsparing, and he who held back his sword from blood should be devoted to judgment himself (Jeremiah 48:9-10).
For a long season Moab had been permitted to go unpunished. The result was a settling down in haughty carelessness, with utter indifference to the abominations everywhere practiced. "Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity: therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed" (Jeremiah 48:11). This condition can be no longer tolerated.
The Lord is about to "send unto him wanderers, that shall cause him to wander, and shall empty his vessels and break their bottles" (Jeremiah 48:12). The result shall be to destroy their confidence in Chemosh and to make them ashamed "as the house of Israel was ashamed of Bethel their confidence" - that is, of the calves set up by Jeroboam (Jeremiah 48:13). It is evident that Moab's destruction was not to be forever. Like Israel, they were to be punished in measure; but the discipline would eventually prove corrective.
In Jeremiah 48:14-25 the prophet sees in vision the advancing armies of the spoiler, and graphically portrays the alarm and final rout of the inhabitants of the cities of this interesting people.
"The horn of Moab is cut off" signifies that all his power was to be broken. In his pride he had "magnified himself against the Lord," and gloried over Israel when their affliction carne. "He shall wallow in his vomit, and be himself in derision" (Jeremiah 48:26-27).
Ere the besom of wrath shall come upon them, the dwellers in the cities are warned to flee to "the rocks" for safety. A remnant would thus be preserved. They are exhorted to "be like the dove that maketh her nest in the sides of the hole's mouth" (Jeremiah 48:28).
Pride ever goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
It was this abominable trait that particularly characterized these descendants of Lot. "We have heard the pride of Moab, he is exceeding proud! his loftiness, and his arrogancy, and his pride, and the haughtiness of his heart" (Jeremiah 48:29).
Because he will not humble himself, he must be humbled - in the case of individuals as well as nations who fail to acknowledge Heaven's rule. Upon all the land the hand of GOD shall fall; for it is His hand, though a heathen army be the instrument used. How fitting that he who prophesies such dire sorrow should do so with weeping and strong crying (Jeremiah 48:30-34).
Idolatry will be made to cease in their cities, and "There shall be lamentation generally upon all the housetops of Moab, and in the streets thereof," when the Lord has "broken Moab like a vessel wherein is no pleasure" (Jeremiah 48:35-41). It is the same simile of the potter and the clay, used long before in regard to Israel (chap. 18). "And Moab shall be destroyed from being a people, because he hath magnified himself against the Lord." This was his awful sin. How many, alas, have followed in his steps! For such, judgment is certain at last, though it may for a long time seem to slumber. When it falls, there shall be no escape. "Fear, and the pit, and the snare," shall devour them all (Jeremiah 48:42-46).
Thus Balaam's prophecy was to be at length fulfilled, when the Lord should "smite the corners of Moab" (Numbers 24:17). "Yet will I bring again the captivity of Moab in the latter days, saith the Lord. Thus far is the judgment of Moab" (Jeremiah 48:47). In the Millennium, when the Lord, in His own times, shall show who is that blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, Moab shall rejoice with His people, a remnant being spared to enter into the world-kingdom of our GOD and His CHRIST.
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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Jeremiah 48". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany