CLICK HERE to read Isaiah 16.
This chapter continues the condemnation of Moab, yet also with the promise of being redeemed. Through them the Messiah will come!
Isaiah begins by telling the people to appeal to the ruler of the king of Judah (verse 1). If the Moabites paid tribute to the king (Hezekiah), his people might be able to seek refuge with Judah instead of being destroyed by the Assyrians. Even the children will need help, like a little bird that has fallen out of the nest (verse 2).
Then Isaiah tells king Hezekiah to do this very thing, to take the prophet’s advice (counsel) and do it (execute judgment) (verse 3). Isaiah is telling Hezekiah to hide the refugees, and to tell his people not to reveal (betray, “bewray”) where the refugees are hidden. He calls on our baptismal covenants of when we promise to help and care for one another (verse 4). Note the footnote to Mosiah 4:16:
And also, ye yourselves will succorthose that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggarputteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.
Isaiah tells them not only to take in the people, but care for them and provide for them. He tells them to work together to stop the “spoiler”. The “spoiler” refers to 2 Kings 3:4, meaning the heavy burden of taxes the Assyrians were demanding. If the tribes united against Assyria, and turned back to the Lord, He could deliver them from destruction and from the heavy burden of financial bondage.
Isaiah appeals to Hezekiah again, telling him that if he will have mercy on the refugees, the Lord will have mercy on him (verse 5). His kingdom will be established (endure), and the Lord will make him a righteous king. He will be blessed as he governs his country according to the laws of the temple.
Isaiah calls out the Moabites for being a proud people, and tells how they often acted impulsively and harshly because of their pride (verse 6). This pride will make their downfall even more painful, and everyone will know it as they mourn their losses and mourn their pride (verse 7; see also Jeremiah 48:31). This will make Hezekiah’s hospitality even greater, since it is harder to be kind to a haughty and arrogant people who don’t know how to ask for help or don’t want to ask for help.
In verse 8, Isaiah lists some of the Moabite cities that will be conquered. Heshbon is the fertile land Moses conquered, and Sibmah was famous for its vineyards that stretched all the way to the northern city of Jazer (see Numbers 21:32).
These were sources of their pride, both in provision for their people and as the products they were famous for selling. It will all be destroyed, so much that the plants won’t even be able to grow. In verse 9, Isaiah says this destruction will come at harvest time, when the people are at the height of their pride. This will start their mourning, the loss of their harvest, before they even realize the extent of what is happening to them (verse 10):
And gladness is taken away, and joy out of the plentiful field;
and the vineyards there shall be no singing,
neither shall there by shouting:
the treaders shall tread out no wine in their presses;
I have made their vintage shouting to cease.
This destruction, the judgment against them, will fall so quickly and so severely, that it hurts Isaiah in the gut. His heart breaks for them, and he grieves for them. He says his “bowels shall sound like an harp”, a Hebrew poetry metaphor for being heartbroken. Jeremiah says “pipes” (see Jeremiah 48:36). It is a deep grief as they see what is about to happen to the people.
The worst thing is how the Moabites will respond. Of course they will fight to defend themselves, but when they “weary” (verse 12), they will go to the high places of their false idols instead of turning to the Lord. Even at that last moment the Lord could still save them, but they will not ask him for help. But their false idols are nothing, and will not be able to do anything for them, and so they will be destroyed.
This is the revelation the Lord gives Isaiah about the people of Moab and what is about to happen to them, and that is their full warning (verse 13).
Isaiah is then given a second vision in which he understands that within three years specifically (the way we clock in and clock out at work, or “hireling”), Moab will be destroyed (verse 14). King Hezekiah of Judah began to reign in 727 B.C., and within three years of his reign the Assyrian invasion began, destroying everything east of the Jordan River and Dead Sea (more than only Moab). The Ten Tribes were all carried off and scattered by 721 B.C.
Notice that Isaiah says there will be a “remnant”. This was a very small group not carried off by the Assyrians, who returned to the destroyed land and tried to rebuild their lives. But still they did not turn to the Lord, and so 100 years later Jeremiah repeated these prophecies to the Moabites (Jeremiah 48:42). When Nebuchadnezzar reigned in Babylon, they conquered the Moabites again, and this time none were left.
The Lord called the people, through His prophets, urging them to turn to Him so that He could fight their battles for Him. The people did not listen, and were destroyed.
And the prophets grieved.