Isaiah 15

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning,
that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4

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A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2006 James Melough

15:1.  “The burden of Moab.  Because in the night Ar of Moab is laid waste, and brought to silence; because in the night Kir of Moab is laid waste, and brought to silence;”


Moab means from father: what father?: from (her [the mother’s]) father.  He was the son incestuously begotten by Lot, see Genesis 19:36-37, and who became the father of the Moabites, inveterate foes of Israel.


Ar means awaking, and is particularly appropriate to a place about to be suddenly destroyed. 


Kir means a wall, which is usually synonymous with invulnerability; but in the present instance the safety is imaginary, for there is no protection from Divine wrath provoked by rebellion.


The “burden” is God’s announcement of the doom He was about to bring upon Moab, that destruction to come, not “in the night,” but suddenly in “a” night, i.e., overnight.


Moab’s hatred of Israel was inveterate, hence God’s decision to destroy that nation, for concerning Israel, He Himself has said, “... he that toucheth you toucheth the apple (pupil) of His eye,” Zech 2:8.


We are no less loved than is Israel, for what is written concerning her in Jeremiah 31:3, is equally true of us, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love.”


We are reading only half the lesson however, if we fail to recognize that the fate which overtook Moab foreshadows what is about to befall this present evil world in the coming Great Tribulation.


15:2.  “He is gone up to Bajith, and to Dibon, the high places, to weep: Moab shall howl over Nebo, and over Medeba: on all their heads shall be baldness, and every beard cut off.”


Bajith means house; and Dibon, the waster, the “high places” being the hilltop shrines to which the Moabites flocked to petition their gods for deliverance from the approaching enemy, the Assyrians, and to mourn the destruction of two of their principal cities, Nebo meaning his prophecy; and Medeba, meaning waters of rest (quiet), neither meaning yielding any readily discernible message.  Their shaven heads and beards were the outward evidence of their mourning. 


15:3.  “In their streets they shall gird themselves with sackcloth: on the tops of their houses, and in their streets, every one shall howl, weeping abundantly.”


Sackcloth was coarse material worn by mourners, and by those who wished to demonstrate repentant contrition, and it was in the streets that the business of the city was transacted; but it was on the flat housetops that the family customarily assembled for relaxation and fellowship. 


The approach of the enemy however, had changed all that.  Business had become of minor importance.  The people’s great concern was how they might save themselves.  The complacency of normal life had given place to hysterical concern as to how they might save their lives, “howling” here meaning to wail and weep. 


As with many of the OT scenes of sorrow and mourning, this one also foreshadows the dire distress that will be in the fast approaching Great Tribulation; but transcending that misery will be the hopeless horror of those who at the instant of death find themselves in hell, many of them having lived under the deadly delusion that they were on their way to heaven.  The churches of Christendom are filled with the deluded dupes of clergymen who preach a God too loving to send anyone to hell.  What eternal woe awaits them and their unconverted congregations!


15:4.  “And Heshbon shall cry, and Elealeh: their voice shall be heard even unto Jahaz: therefore the armed soldiers of Moab shall cry out; his life shall be grievous unto him.”


Heshbon, meaning device: reason, seems to represent worldly wisdom; Elealeh, God is ascending, points to the preeminence of God; Jahaz, trodden down, declares the ultimate fate of this present evil world. For the significance of Moab, meaning from father: what father?, see comments on verses 1 and 2 above.  The terror of the Moabite soldiers foreshadows that of the armies that will be gathered against the Lord in the battle of Armageddon, Revelation 16:16; 19:11-21, see also Revelation 6:15-17.


“... his life shall be grievous unto him” is also translated his soul trembles or shudders within him: his courage ebbs away.


15:5.  “My heart shall cry out for Moab; his fugitives shall flee unto Zoar, an heifer of three years old: for by the mounting up of Luhith with weeping shall they go it up; for in the way of Horonaim they shall raise up a cry of destruction.”


It is Isaiah’s heart that cries out in pity for Moab, his sorrow being a reflection of God’s, for it is to be remembered that judgment is God’s strange work, see Isaiah 28:21, “For the Lord shall rise up as in mount Perazim, He shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that He may do His work, His strange work; and bring to pass His act, His strange act,” it being written also, Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?” Ezekiel 18:23. 


How different is the death of a believer, relative to which it is written, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints,” Psalm 116:15.


Zoar means bringing low, and speaks here of the chastisement Moab had incurred by rebellion; her being likened to a refractory three-year-old heifer emphasizing the folly of her recalcitrance which brought punishment instead of blessing.  God intends us to profit by the experience of others, so that we don’t repeat their disobedience, and incur similar painful correction.


The “mounting up of Luhith” meaning pertaining to the table, describes their climbing the slope of Luhith, a mountain of uncertain location in Moab, the word table indicating perhaps that the mountain may possibly have had a flat top.


Horonaim means double cave, and has a bad implication, for a cave was a usual place of burial, and never has a good Scriptural connotation.  Here it may suggest that death is the end result of sin, as declared in Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”


Its being emphasized that they went “with weeping,” and “with a cry of destruction,” is the further reminder that “the way of transgressors is hard,” Proverbs 13:15.


15:6.  “For the waters of Nimrim shall be desolate: for the hay is withered away, the grass faileth, there is no green thing.”


Since Nimrim means rebellious ones: leopards; and water is one of the symbols of the Scriptures given for our cleansing and refreshment through the Holy Spirit, the spiritual message here is that disobedience grieves and quenches Him, and cuts off His ministry.


Hay is grass which has been cut and dried for use as forage.  It is another symbol of the written Word read, remembered, meditated upon, and obeyed, and thus transmuted into our spiritual food.  Rebellion ends that spiritual process.


Grass is the growing herbage which by being cut and dried becomes hay.


Here it speaks of the written Word as presented on the printed page, it being the responsibility of the believer to first read it, and then seek to understand it through the enlightenment of the ungrieved and unquenched Holy Spirit.


As a result of Israel’s disobedience grass and all other green plants had died, the corresponding spiritual state being the result of disobedience on the part of believers.  Scripture ceases to supply spiritual sustenance, either by being unread, or by being bereft of the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment; and that this sorry state pervades professing Christendom is evident to all but the spiritually blind.


15:7.  “Therefore the abundance they have gotten, and that which they have laid up, shall they carry away to the brook of the willows.”


They would be able to take with them only what little they could carry, the remainder having to be left behind to become the spoil of the invaders.


Every Scriptural reference to willows has an unfavorable association, the present instance being no exception.  The “brook of the willows” represents the river of death, and as the fleeing Moabites had to leave behind them the bulk of their possessions when they crossed the river, so will every man, when he crosses the river of death, have to leave here on earth all that the world regards as treasure, as it is written, “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out,” 1 Timothy 6:7. 


The believer however, will take out of this world something he didn’t bring into it: God’s priceless gift of eternal life, Paul’s comparison of that treasure with what the world values above all else, is recorded in Philippians 3:7-8 “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.  Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.”


15:8.  “For the cry is gone round about the borders of Moab; the howling thereof unto Eglaim, and the howling thereof unto Beer-elim.”


Terror gripped the whole land.


Eglaim means double reservoir; and Beer-elim, well of the gods (i.e., mighty ones), both places seeming to have been the chief centers of their idolatrous worship.


15:9.  “For the waters of Dimon shall be full of blood: for I will bring more upon Dimon, lions upon him that escapeth of Moab, and upon the remnant of the land.”


Dimon, meaning the quieter: silence, is another spelling of Dibon which means Gad, see Gad, which means an invader: a troop: fortune, meanings which yield no easily discernible spiritual message.


The waters of Dimon being full of blood implies wholesale slaughter; but that wouldn’t exhaust God’s anger: He would cause the enemy troops to be as relentless as lions in pursuing and killing the survivors.


It is possible that we are meant to see in this destruction a symbolic preview of the slaughter that will be in the coming Great Tribulation.

[Isaiah 16]

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     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
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