Isaiah 15:1-16:14 (Moab)
Likewise, while Isaiah may indeed be foretelling God’s judgment of Moab through Assyria, seeing that this prophecy was to be fulfilled in 3 years (Isa. 16:13-14), and therein Isaiah is also speaking of Moab’s need to treat the Jews favorably during the Assyrian Captivities in anticipation of their eventual rise to complete dominance, as described in Isaiah 16:1-5, the full scope of the prophecies were not fulfilled in Assyria’s destructive rampage of Moab. This is apparent in that the substance of these prophecies was still unfulfilled in Jeremiah’s prophetic perception (Jer. 48:1-47) of what remains to be accomplished in the soon-to-be arrival of historical Babylon, hence the parallels: Isa. 15:2 & Jer. 48:37; Isa. 15:3 & Jer. 48:38; Isa. 15:4 & Jer. 48:34; Isa. 15:5 & Jer. 48:34, 3, 5; Isa. 15:6 & Jer. 48:34; Isa. 15:7 & Jer. 48:36; Isa. 16:6 & Jer. 48:29-30; Isa. 16:7 & Jer. 48:31; Isa. 16:8-9 & Jer. 48:32; Isa. 16:10 & Jer. 48:33; and Isa. 16:11 & Jer. 48:36. However, not even historical Babylon will fulfill the whole record of the aforementioned prophecies. The exacting of all that is written concerning Moab will require the coming of future , even as Isaiah is made to observe in Isaiah 25:10 (Num. 24:17, Zeph. 2:9; for more information, see ).
Harmoniously, another clear indication of an overarching prophetic burden that transcends history (God’s judgment through Assyria or historical Babylon) can be observed in the introduction of the foretold burden of divine judgment in the terms, “Because in the night…”, and, “because in the night…”, being repeated twice in Isaiah 15:1. Fittingly, this is the introduction of “the burden of Moab” (Isa. 15:1); and, seeing that the burden is not fully accomplished by Assyria or historical Babylon, we will see these terms in reference again in depiction of another nightfall taking place beyond the fall of historical Babylon in Isaiah 21:1-12. In other words, after the night there’s another night. According to Isaiah 21:1-12, the prophetic watchman in station is looking into the night - which he does continually – thus being made to see the end of the matter, which in prophetic terms means the expiring of nighttime in the awaking of the dawn. Being interpreted, the announcement is made: “Babylon is fallen” (Isa. 21:9, Jer. 51:8, Rev. 14:8, 18:2). The question, “Watchman, what of the night?” (Isa. 21:11), means, “What of Babylon?”, and thus after the watchman looked into the night to see what it would bring he makes the announcement that “Babylon is fallen” (Isa. 21:9).
“…Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will enquire, enquire ye: return, come.” – Isa. 21:11-12
Harmoniously, the announcing of the fall of historical Babylon (Isa. 21:1-10) in these terms means the end of the night in that “morning cometh” (Isa. 21:12), however if morning is coming “and also the night” thereafter (Isa. 21:12), as the prophet goes on to say, this indicates the coming of future Babylon for the making of another midnight hour of destruction and madness (Isa. 13:1-14:27). The revival of night is, in other words, the revival of the fallen Empire of Babylon (Rev. 17:4-5), thus indicating the coming of future . In summary, this prophetic metaphor can be understood in the totality of its use indicating the night beginning with Assyria, which is only the beginning of divine judgment upon Moab (not excluding other nations) as described in Isa. 15:1-16:14, thus with the divine overthrow of Assyria at Jerusalem the nations of the world experience a brief reprieve from the night, as described in Isa. 17:14, but with the coming of historical Babylon shortly thereafter (Isa. 39:1-8) another night descends upon the nations (Isa. 13:1-14:27), and with the coming of a subsequent morning and then another night after historical Babylon’s fall, as described in Isaiah 21:11-12, it is certain that these prophecies will consummate in future .
Furthermore, in yet another clear indication of an overarching burden (history as a divine prop to declare futurity), let’s turn our eyes upon the gracious instruction given by God to Moab concerning the welcoming of Jewish Outcasts during the Assyrian & Babylonian Captivities (Isa. 16:3-4). Moab is divinely counseled to live in anticipation of an inevitable exaltation of the Jews through the revival of , according to Isaiah 16:5, and in being thus minded they should help the fleeing Jews of Israel or Judah by providing them covert sanctuary from the face of their spoilers, the Assyrians and the Babylonians (Isa. 16:3-4). Right? In other words, Isaiah 16:3-4 speaks of the Jews who are effectively escaping the grasp of Assyria and historical Babylon, presumably only with the aid of Moabites. My reader, the divine counsel given to Moab isn’t necessarily profound at first glance, but the word-usage of the counsel is profoundly significant in terms of other prophecies in the Book of Isaiah pertaining to the Jewish Escapees. Let me explain.
The status of the escaping Jews is a prominent subject of the Book of Isaiah; for, how else shall redemption continue without a remnant? Even so, the subject was addressed by Isaiah long before Isaiah 16:1-5 (an unusual circumstance of history wherein God is calling for the helping hand of an intolerably wicked people, the Moabites). Thus, let the reader understand that Jewish Escapees are those who escape during or after the warfare and or dispersions that God ordained through Assyria and historical Babylon, but more importantly they are those who will one day be called the 3rd Restoration Generation of the Jews who survive the likes of future Babylon! In a clear shift from history to futurity, and as a striking first-mention of the topic in the Book of Isaiah, Jewish Escapees (“them that are escaped of Israel…he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem” – Isa. 4:2-3) are foreseen to be experiencing the unparalleled glory of of Christ as described in Isaiah 4:5-6, which states,
“And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.” – Isa. 4:5-6
Oh, how marvelous! How wonderful! …I pity the poor soul who isn’t made to marvel at such a prophecy! For, these are acts of redemption and glory that are simply unachievable without the Messiah, , as is plainly stated in Isaiah 4:2. Isaiah is made to elaborate further on the acts of the Messiah, , beginning in Isaiah 11:1 (if you can recall), but before elaborating upon the events of futurity the prophetic gaze turns to history to look upon the remnant of the Jews who will escape / return from the Assyrian Captivities according to Isaiah 10:20-22. Remember? Then, in a shift back to futurity, Isaiah foresaw the Messiah “stand for an ensign of the people”, and in so doing, the 3rd & of the Jews begins (Isa. 11:10-11). Again, Isaiah says, “And He shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth” (Isa. 11:12). These events will transpire in distant futurity, indisputably so, but what we read in the following passage of Isaiah on the subject does strike the same chords of harmony observed in the doctrines of Isaiah’s prophecies heretofore. In speaking to Moab during a purely historical scenario, the word of counsel is given,
“Take counsel, execute judgment; make thy shadow as the night in the midst of the noonday; hide the outcasts; bewray not him that wandereth. Let Mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab; be thou a covert to them from the face of the spoiler: for the extortioner is at an end, the spoiler ceaseth, the oppressors are consumed out of the land. And in mercy shall the Throne be established: and He shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness.” – Isa. 16:3-5
In looking at yet another purely historical event seemingly insignificant in the greater scheme of , observe the striking harmony of terms used to illustrate the desired objective. To say the least, the preservation of Jewish Escapees by the hand of Moab is comparatively dismal to the greater scope of Isaiah’s prophecies. Duly consider it, my reader: our first observation of Jewish Escapees in the Book of Isaiah began with a snapshot of futurity (Isa. 4:1-6), and then one of history (Isa. 10:20-22), only then to elaborate further on the instance of futurity (Isa. 11:10-12), but then later shift back from futurity to history in the case of God’s counsel to Moab (Isa. 16:3-5; in this instance, using the same terms used to described the Messiah’s unparalleled acts of redemption in Isa. 4:6). So, what’s next? In Isaiah 25:4-5 we observe yet another shift to futurity to the glory of the Messiah, this time in the exuberant praises of the 3rd Restoration Generation of the Jews declaring it in their own words, saying,
“For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall. Thou shalt bring down the noise of strangers, as the heat in a dry place; even the heat with the shadow of a cloud: the branch of the terrible ones shall be brought low.” – Isa. 25:4-5
Truly, how inglorious are the efforts of Moab (Isa. 16:3-4) in comparison to the Messiah’s and glory (Isa. 4:6, 24:4-5)! However, these ancient props are necessary for us to comprehend the work of God in . Graciously, and condescendingly, God uses the typology of history in prophecy to declare futurity! God knows we wouldn’t understand it any other way (Matt. 13:10-17, Prov. 1:5-7, Rev. 1:3). Mysteriously, the interchangeable directives continue from fulfilled history to unfulfilled futurity, all to the praise of God’s wisdom and glory to hide the truth of prophecy in plain sight only to reveal it to the elect (Dan. 11:32-35, 12:3, 10). At last, in perfect harmony, and adding to the complexity, yet another foresight of futurity is brought into view in the same terms, that prophecy being that “a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land” (Isa. 32:2). For an explanation of these prophetic descriptions as they will take place in futurity, see Isaiah 25 & Isaiah 32 and the associated hyperlinks.