By Christina M Wilson. Published simultaneously at https://justonesmallvoice.com/moab-isaiah-devotional-journal-52/
Summary of Isaiah 25
Isaiah 25 breaks easily into three sections.
- Praise and worship (verses 1-5) Journal 48, Journal 49
- A feast for all nations (verses 6-9) Journal 50, Journal 51
- Judgment upon Moab (verses 10-12)
Who Is Moab in Isaiah 25:10-12?
The last mention of Moab in Isaiah falls in this verse, Isaiah 25:10. Moab then disappears from Isaiah. Who is this Moab? In what is clearly an end times (messianic) passage, why bring in Moab?
Three Sections of Isaianic Prophecies Against Moab
- The prophet first mentions Isaiah in the messianic context of chapter 11. This mention receives one verse.
Isaiah 11:14 But they [a spiritually reunited Ephraim and Judah] shall swoop down on the shoulder of the Philistines in the west, and together they shall plunder the people of the east. They shall put out their hand against Edom and Moab, and the Ammonites shall obey them. (ESV)
2. The second time Isaiah deals with Moab is lengthy. Two whole chapters describe its destruction.
Isaiah 15:1 An oracle concerning Moab. Because Ar of Moab is laid waste in a night, Moab is undone; because Kir of Moab is laid waste in a night, Moab is undone… 16:14 “In three years, like the years of a hired worker, the glory of Moab will be brought into contempt, in spite of all his great multitude, and those who remain will be very few and feeble.” (ESV)
3. The third mention is Isaiah 25:10-12, which is again, a messianic passage.
Isaiah 25:10 For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain, and Moab shall be trampled down in his place, as straw is trampled down in a dunghill.
11 And he will spread out his hands in the midst of it as a swimmer spreads his hands out to swim, but the LORD will lay low his pompous pride together with the skill of his hands.
12 And the high fortifications of his walls he will bring down, lay low, and cast to the ground, to the dust. (ESV)
After this, Isaiah remains quiet concerning Moab.
Two Thoughtful Questions
- When reading Isaiah 25, readers may ask a thoughtful question, “Why Moab?” Is Moab that important? Didn’t Israel have far worse and far stronger enemies than Moab? Enemies such as Assyria and Babylon? The answer would be yes. Babylon conquered Moab and led Israel into captivity. Moab never conquered Israel. So, why Moab?
- A second question also presents itself. Should a reader interpret these verses concretely or spiritually? In other words, does Isaiah speak of a physical Moab or Moab as a symbol?
The answer to question 1 will help find an answer to question 2.
Some Biblical History
Genesis records a sad history of Abraham’s nephew Lot. He chose the best land and wound up living in Sodom. Angels led Lot and his family out of there before God destroyed it. Genesis 19 then records how Lot’s firstborn daughter hatched a scheme of incest with her father. Genesis 19:37 states that she gave her son by her father the name Moab. Moab became the father of the nation of that name. The younger sister birthed Ammon by the same means. Ammon became father of the Ammonites.
Throughout a good portion of the book of Numbers and Deuteronomy, Moses and his people camped on the “plains of Moab.” These lie opposite Jericho, which lies on the other side of the Jordan River, just north of the Dead Sea. The Israelites’ presence there worried Balak, king of Moab. Numbers 22-24 record how Balak hired Balaam, a prophet heavily influenced by God, to curse the Israelites present with Moses. That plan failed tremendously.
Afterwards, Balak chose a different way to weaken God’s people–the way of sexual sin. Sexual sin in Old Testament Scripture often symbolizes infidelity and idolatry toward God.
Numbers 25:1 While Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab. 2 These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. 3 So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. (ESV)
Revelation 2:14 But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. (ESV)
See also 2 Peter 2:14-16.
Who Then Does Moab Represent?
1. First, Scripture identifies Moab as a people who consistently opposed God, his ways, and his people. Scripture does not record a turnaround, or repentance on their part. On the other hand, Isaiah prophesied that other Gentile nations would be saved, some of them former enemies. See, for example, Isaiah 2:2-4; 11:10; 19:23-25; 24:15; 42:4-7; 49:6; 51:5; 65:1; and 66:18-19.
2. Second, Isaiah prophesied a nearly total destruction of Moab in the passage from Isaiah 15:1-16:14. Yet he never mentions a comeback. Further, Zephaniah records the last mention of Moab in all Scripture. He prophesies a complete destruction.
Zephaniah 2:9 Therefore, as I live,” declares the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “Moab shall become like Sodom, and the Ammonites like Gomorrah, a land possessed by nettles and salt pits, and a waste forever. The remnant of my people shall plunder them, and the survivors of my nation shall possess them.” (ESV)
3. Therefore, common sense concludes that national, physical Moab (a concrete Moab) would not have recovered sufficiently by the time of Messiah to be destroyed yet again.
4. This conclusion indicates that the Moab of Isaiah 25:10-14 represents symbolically all the enemies of God and his Christ (Messiah) that ever existed or will exist. Many commentators hold this opinion (Isaiah 25:10 – Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary – StudyLight.org).
So Then, Is the Prophecy Concerning Moab Concrete or Spiritual?
So then, what do we make of Isaiah 25:10-12? Do these verses have a concrete, physical application or a spiritual? The preceding information indicates spiritual. This lines up well with the entire New Testament. “My kingdom is not of this world,” Jesus said (John 18:36). By that he meant that his kingdom is not about nations, governments, boundaries, or ethnicities. The kingdom of Christ is about Spirit, life, and truth. Isaiah prophesied about the coming kingdom of Christ, Messiah.
From the very beginning of the book, Isaiah mixes concrete-physical prophesies with spiritual. Chapter 1, for example, is largely concrete-physical. Isaiah seemed to be addressing the physical people who lived in Israel at the same time he did. On the other hand, Isaiah 2:1-4 appears to contain a more spiritual application. Christ is he who said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). That is not a matter of hermeneutics. Christ said, ” …true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24). In other words, Christ took no offense at spiritual meanings in Isaiah, and neither should we.