Saturday, April 9, 2016

Prophets And Kings, Day 62. War With Moab, Part 2

Prophets And Kings
Day 62
War With Moab
Part 2

This mornin we finishes ours look at the war wif Moab.

2 KINGS 3:20-27
Yesterday the kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom were allied against Moab who had decided to rise up and throw off the rule of Israel. They were marching their armies through Edom to attack the Moabites but found themselves running out of water. They consulted the prophet Elisha who told them that by morning the Lord would fill the dry desert valley with water, plenty of water for all the men and their animals. When morning came it was so. This is where we pick up today.

"Now all the Moabites had heard that the kings had come to fight against them; so every man, young and old, who could bear arms was called up and stationed on the border. When they got up early in the morning, the sun was shining on the water. To the Moabites across the way, the water looked red---like blood." (2 Kings 3:21-22)

The Moabites don't realize the Lord performed a miracle during the night. They don't expect to see water where no water is supposed to be and they don't recognize it as water. It has mixed with the reddish dirt of the desert and it appears to them to be pools of blood. The Lord is using this one miracle to attain two objectives. Yesterday, the men and their animals were becoming dehydrated because they found no water along the way. Without water they would have to turn back because no army can fight a long battle while suffering intense thirst and weakness. So this morning, before the men face the Moabites, they are refreshed by these pools of water. In addition, the Lord uses the pools of water to confound the enemy and lead them to defeat.

The Moabites reach a wrong conclusion. "'That's blood!' they said. 'Those kings must have fought and slaughtered each other. Now to the plunder, Moab!'" (2 Kings 3:23) We can understand their reasoning after having studied the life of King Jehoshaphat. On a previous occasion, the Moabites and the Ammonites and the men of Mount Seir combined their armies to attack King Jehoshaphat and Judah. Judah's army was no match for this coalition and Jehoshaphat urged the nation to fast and pray, then he called to the Lord for help as the people assembled before the temple. The Lord answered that the battle was His and that Judah would not be called to fight it. Before the army of Judah reached the battle, the Lord allowed something strange to come over her enemies, so much so that they fought each other to the death. All Jehoshaphat and his men had to do was gather the plunder and take it home. The Moabites today are probably thinking, "Aha! The same fate that befell some of our troops has now befallen the troops of Israel, Judah, and Edom! They have fought each other to the death and there's nothing for us to do but gather the plunder."

"But when the Moabites came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose up and fought them until they fled. And the Israelites invaded the land and slaughtered the Moabites. They destroyed the towns, and each man threw a stone on every good field until it was covered. They stopped up all the springs and cut down every good tree. Only Kir Hareseth was left with its stones in place, but men armed with slings surrounded it and attacked it." (2 Kings 3:24-25) Moab's defeat is pretty thorough. Not only is their army put to shame, but the Israelites have insured that they won't have time to quickly regroup and come back. They will be too busy clearing their land and unstopping their springs. They will be busy digging holes to plant new trees. The Moabites were an agricultural society, as we learned yesterday. Their main occupation was sheepherding. Clear land with good grass and running springs was vital to their economy. These things were also vital for their own survival in the raising of crops. Restoring the land and water will take precedence for a while over making war.

Lest we feel sorry for Moab that they are subject to Israel and heavily taxed, the author of 2nd Kings reminds us of their pagan wickedness. "When the king of Moab saw that the battle had gone against him, he took with him seven hundred swordsmen to break through to the king of Edom, but they failed. Then he took his firstborn son, who was to succeed him as king, and offered him as a sacrifice on the city wall. The fury against Israel was great; they withdrew and returned to their own land." (2 Kings 3:26-27) Though at this time in the Scriptures many in Israel have fallen away from the faith, we do not yet find Israel's kings sacrificing their children to foreign gods. Israel is appalled at this sight and they are the ones the Bible tells us "returned to their own land". In the NIV it's not quite clear which army returns to their own land but in other versions it appears to be the Israelites. Many Bible scholars agree with this translation and add that the original texts indicate that it's seeing this child sacrificed that so shocks and horrifies them that they turn for home. 

The king of Moab performs this awful deed on top of the wall so his own men and the armies of Israel, Judah, and Edom can see it. He wants everyone to know how fierce his anger is against Israel. He is so committed to coming back against them that he will do anything to achieve his goal, including sacrificing his son, the most precious thing he has, to his pagan god. He believes such a sacrifice will please his god enough to give him victory in the next battle. He also likely believes the sight of this will strike fear in the Israelites. They will understand he will stop at nothing to defeat them. He may even think, in his ignorance of the one true God of Israel, that Israel will fear his god after seeing him sacrifice his son to him. Instead, the Israelites are disgusted to the point of not even being able to even look over the border into Moab. 

The Moabites were an exceedingly wicked people, not even having natural affection for their offspring. They indulged in every kind of sin imaginable. At this time in history, it was the Lord's will for them to be subject to Israel, for them to feel oppressed by Israel, for them to be disciplined by Israel. Had the Moabites taken their divine discipline in the right spirit, they might have been influenced by those in Israel who were still faithful to God. The Moabites might have found salvation in the Lord. They could have been changed from their useless worship of false gods to a new life in the worship of the only God. In this sense, God was showing mercy to the Moabites by making them subject to Israel, and I think some souls were probably saved through contact with Israel, but by and large it appears they clung to their false gods and to their horrific religious practices. In the judgment they will never be able to say they never heard of the God of Israel. They will not be able to say they never had an opportunity to hear the truth. 

No comments:

Post a Comment