In this section of oracles against the nations, Isaiah 15 brings us to the nation of Moab and the prophet devotes two chapters to them.
On a map, Moab was the land beginning about half way down the east shore of the Dead Sea to the southern end of the sea – or between the Arnon and Zered rivers. Though there were a number of land disputes between Israel and Moab, there were also peaceful relations between them and Israelites and Moabites moved quite freely between the countries.
Like most of the nations mentioned in this section, Moab’s problem was her great “overweening pride and conceit” (16:6).
The Moabites were descendants of Lot and therefore relatives of Israel. As such, God had a special place in his heart for them – despite the fact that they weren’t His people and did not worship Him. Though Moab deserves the punishment she will receive, the heart of the prophet is the heart of God and He weeps and laments for her people. He even calls on Israel to provide Moab refuge from the punishment of God. Isn’t that strange? Like a parent grieving parent, watching a child make bad decisions, the Lord grieves over the people of Moab and hopes someone will be able to help them.
The Church has a history of “writing off” the wayward. “Too bad,” we say. “But you know, they never were that committed.” And on we go. But please note this is never the attitude of God. One suspects, reading chapter 16, God never really gets over the lostness of the lost.