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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Isaiah 16

Verse 1

Call to Moab

This chapter is a direct sequel to the previous one and forms a whole with it. In view of the coming tribulation Isaiah calls Moab to submit to Judah (Isaiah 16:1). In the past, Moab has been subject to Israel (2 Samuel 8:2) and has had to pay a tribute of lambs and wool, but has escaped from Israel’s power (2 Kings 3:4-Deuteronomy :).

In fact, this means that Moab is asked to choose to stand on the side of the believing Israelites at the time of the great tribulation. In practical terms, this means that they are called upon to receive the fleeing believing remnant of Israel (Isaiah 16:4; Matthew 24:16). Those who answer this call will be rewarded before the throne of Christ (Matthew 25:31-:). Everything they have done to these believing Israelites, they have done to Christ Himself, without knowing it.

As a sign of their choice to stand at the side of Israel, Moab is said to send lambs again. He should not send them to Samaria now, but “to the mountain of the daughter of Zion”, which is the temple mountain in Jerusalem. This way of doing things will be an outcome for Moab. Moab’s need, just like other peoples in the area, is caused by the invasion of the king of the North. They will find protection and security in Jerusalem as compensation for the tribute paid.

Sela is Hebrew for the Greek Petra, which means rock. Petra is located in Edom, south of Moab. There the fugitives fled from the north of Moab. The escape route from north to south is described in the previous chapter.

Verses 2-3

On the Run to Jerusalem

Then the prophet sees how the Moabites flee, towards Jerusalem, chased by the enemy (Isaiah 16:2). The picture is that of birds chased from their nest, causing their young to fly around without a resting place. The time will come when the Moabites will be driven from their homes and will need protection. This is offered to them in Isaiah 16:1 with the associated condition.

In Isaiah 16:3 both Judah and Moab are addressed to take in each other’s fugitives. Judah has to flee at the time of the great tribulation because of the persecution by the antichrist, while Moab has to flee to Israel because of the invasion of the king of the North. They have to cast “at high noon” their “shadow like night”. They have to offer protection by hiding the fugitives from the enemy in the heat of the day, i.e. when the persecution is at its most intense, like a rock provides a cooling shadow in the middle of the day. Betrayal of the hiding place of the outcasts is forbidden.

Verses 4-5

Request for Protection

Here Moab is summoned to receive the outcasts of Judah [according to another translation: My outcasts, as for Moab] (Isaiah 16:4). The mountains of which the Lord Jesus speaks in His end time speech (Matthew 24:16) may be those of Moab. There the outcasts of Judah will be safe “from the destroyer”, who is the king of the North. However much the destroyer will rage, he will eventually come to his end in Judah.

This means that Isaiah’s main concern here is the end time, a thought that is in line with what has already been mentioned in this book (Isaiah 14:32). Isaiah 16:5 confirms this. When the extortioner has been judged, the destruction is over and the oppressors have been wiped out, the Messiah will sit on His throne. The “judge” who sits on the throne is none other than the Lord Jesus and it can be about nothing but His reign in the end times.

Just before He returns to judge the enemies of His people, many Judeans will flee and therewith fulfill His word. What David does with his father and mother while he is fleeing from Saul is a foreshadowing of this (1 Samuel 22:3-Numbers :; cf. Jeremiah 40:11-2 Kings :). God also calls Moab “My washbowl” (Psalms 60:8; Psalms 108:9), which indicates that Moab is the place where He will cleanse and purify the remnant as in a washbowl.

When that process is completed, they will return to Judah as God’s warriors to help with the liberation of Judah and Jerusalem. When the anti-Christian powers have been defeated, the Son of David will sit on the throne. He will restore and maintain justice and righteousness.

Verses 6-12

Moab Destroyed

After advising Moab to submit to Zion and be a refuge for the outcasts of Judah, Isaiah returns to the characteristic attitude of Moab. That attitude is one of pride, arrogance, fury and idle boasts (Isaiah 16:6; Jeremiah 48:29-Amos :). This attitude causes the land to be destroyed and Moab to moan about his fate (Isaiah 16:7-Ruth :; cf. Proverbs 16:18). Isaiah sees it before him. It seizes him.

Where there should be cheering for joy – the vine is the symbol of it – is bitterly weeping (Isaiah 16:9-2 Samuel :). At the end of Isaiah 16:10 we suddenly hear the LORD speaking in the speaking of Isaiah. He says that He has made the shouting of joy to cease. The LORD is at work in what happens to Moab.

This brings Isaiah to a new expression of grief about Moab (Isaiah 16:11). The tragedy of Moab is that it does not resort to God, but to his idols (Isaiah 16:12). He makes every effort to get any help in the house of his idol. Of course there is no salvation there. His going to the sanctuary of his god and the prayer to his god are totally useless.

Verses 13-14

Short-Term Judgment

What Isaiah prophesied about Moab (Isaiah 16:13) is in line with prophecies that were made about this people “earlier” (Numbers 24:17). It will all be fulfilled in the future.

Also for the short term Isaiah has a prophecy: a judgment will come within three years (Isaiah 16:14). That period is counted “as a hired man would count them”. This means that it will be after exactly three years, because a hired man will not work a day longer than the agreed period. Although we do not know very well how that judgment was carried out, it certainly happened, because God has spoken it. In the end time after the invasion of Assyria Moab will be judged again by the hands of the then restored Israel (Isaiah 11:14).

However, it is clear that there is a big difference between the fate of Philistia (Isaiah 14) and the fate of Moab (Isaiah 15-16). There will be no remnant of Philistia in the realm of peace, whereas there will be a remnant of Moab. This is because at the time of the great tribulation Moab took in fugitives from Israel, the believing remnant (cf. Matthew 25:31-:).

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Isaiah 16". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/isaiah-16.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.