Thursday in the First Week of Advent

Isaiah 15:1-17:8

Blessed are the Merciful, for They Shall Obtain Mercy

We are in that part of Isaiah where the nations around Israel and Judah are judged, though Israel and Judah are likewise included in God’s judgments.  Isaiah makes it clear that these judgments of God are universal in scope – no nation is left untouched.

Today we read a moving episode where Moab, Judah’s neighbor and foe to the East, is rescued by God’s people in Judah.  The Israelites and Moabites were ancient cousins.  Genesis 19:30-38 records the unsavory story of how the Moabite people came about through the incestuous immorality of the daughters of Lot, Abraham’s nephew.  (You will remember that Abraham was the father of the Israelites and later Jews.)  Given their close relation, the two peoples were supposed to be friends, but spent most of their history as enemies often warring with one another.  The passage begins in chapter fifteen where Moab is judged.  Moab is laid waste by an enemy, presumably Assyria or Babylon.  The entire chapter describes the horrible scene: “laid waste in a night,” “on every head baldness, every beard shorn,” “fleeing,” “weeping,” “wailing,” and “desolation.”  Moab, enemy of Israel and Judah, worshipers of “Chemosh, the abomination of Moab,” who was usually named together with “Molech, the abomination of the Ammonites,” to whom children were sacrificed (1 Kings 11:7; Jeremiah 32:35) – these pagan, idolatrous Moabites were being destroyed.  One might rejoice.  But not so, says the Lord.  Instead in 16:1-5, we see something different on the part of God’s people.  He calls His people to “let the outcasts of Moab sojourn among you,” to give them shade and shelter.  That is, the Lord calls His people to be merciful to a people who deserve no mercy.  “Then,” says the Lord, “a throne will be established in steadfast love, and on it will sit in faithfulness in the tent of David one who judges and seeks justice and is swift to do righteousness” – a promise of the coming Messiah.

But before that glorious time, God’s people themselves must be judged and pruned as well.  Isaiah 17:4-6 depicts a scene as desperate as what we read for Moab.  But God’s purpose in judgment upon His people is ultimately one of mercy, for by this judgment, the day will come when man will no longer look to pagan altars and gods that their hands have made, but to the Holy One of Israel.  This God is also the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of 16:5 above, the One who presently sits at the right of God the Father, soon to return to make visible his now invisible kingdom.  And it is this kingdom we watch for during this Advent season.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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