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In verse 8-11 now we see God’s Word to the people of Moab and Ammon – the Moabites and Ammonites. “I have heard the reproach of Moab, And the insults of the people of Ammon, With which they have reproached My people, And made arrogant threats against their borders. 9 Therefore, as I live,” Says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Surely Moab shall be like Sodom, And the people of Ammon like Gomorrah—Overrun with weeds and salt pits, And a perpetual desolation. The residue of My people shall plunder them, And the remnant of My people shall possess them.” 10 This they shall have for their pride, Because they have reproached and made arrogant threats against the people of the Lord of hosts. 11 The Lord will be awesome to them, For He will reduce to nothing all the gods of the earth; People shall worship Him, Each one from his place, Indeed all the shores of the nations.”
Awesome means terrifying. The people will be scared to death as they see what God does. And as God begins to describe the judgment of Moab and Ammon, there is actually a bit of sarcasm here – yes the Scriptures from time to time use sarcasm….and puns!
To understand the sarcasm we need to be familiar with where these two nations came from. Where did Moab and Ammon come from and why is it significant that they are told that they will become like Sodom and Gomorrah?
If you remember the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, God sent angels in to warn Lot and his family, to get them out before judgment fell on those wicked cities. And why were they facing this terrible judgment? Ezekiel tells us, and it is more than what most people think. We think we know the reasons, the sins, for which Sodom and Gomorrah were judged, but Ezekiel 16:48-50 tell us, “Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. 50 And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit.”
Yet facing judgment for these sins, Lot did not want to leave, then he did not want to go where the angels told him to go, he wanted to go to another city instead of into the hills where he thought it wouldn’t be safe, and his wife did not want to leave at all or go anywhere. Then as they were convinced to go and they finally left, what did Lot’s wife do? She looked back after specifically being warned not to look back. The trouble here was not the direction of her eyes, but the direction of her heart – where your treasure is there your heart will be also – she did not want to leave at all and desired to go back and she was vaporized on the spot, turned to a pillar of salt.
Lot and his two daughters fled and escaped. They went up into the mountains and ever since this massive destructive act of judgment nearly nothing lives in this area, near the Dead Sea. As Lot’s daughters started to process what had happened they thought that their family was done. Over. Just the two of them and dad. No mom. No husbands. They were doomed. This was the end of their family. They plotted then in desperation and got their father drunk and seduced him. Moab was born to the older daughter and Ammon to the younger. As messed up as this family was now, their descendants didn’t make things any better.
The people of God hated, they abhorred the Moabites because of the way they treated the Jews. When Moab went into battle and conquered an area they would desecrate the tombs of that nation’s former kings and leaders. They would dig up the bones and burn them and grind them into powder. This was a result of a religious belief that they held that there was going to be a resurrection, but in order for you to be resurrected your bones had to be intact. If you dug up and ground up the bones of your enemies they could not be resurrected.
Moab also had a king named Balak. Remember Balak? He hired Balaam to curse Israel. As he went to go do this riding on his donkey, an Angel, the Angel of the Lord appeared to block his path and was going to slay Balam with a sword. The donkey saw it, Balaam didn’t. The donkey stopped, Balaam beat him to get him to go. The donkey pushed up against a wall and Balaam cursed the donkey. Finally the donkey just laid down and Balaam beat the donkey with his staff. We read about it in Numbers 22. “Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” 29 And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have abused me. I wish there were a sword in my hand, for now I would kill you!” 30 So the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden, ever since I became yours, to this day? Was I ever disposed to do this to you?” And he said, “No.” 31 Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell flat on his face. 32 And the Angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to stand against you, because your way is perverse before Me. 33 The donkey saw Me and turned aside from Me these three times. If she had not turned aside from Me, surely I would also have killed you by now, and let her live.” 34 And Balaam said to the Angel of the Lord, “I have sinned, for I did not know You stood in the way against me. Now therefore, if it displeases You, I will turn back.”
By the time a donkey has to tell you want to do…
Balaam decided to bless the people of God instead of cursing them but then he returned to Balak and told him to have the women of Moab seduce the men of Israel and destroy them through intermarriage and idolatry. Then God Himself will curse the people. The plan worked and now Amos and Zephaniah are proclaiming the curse, the judgment that will come on Moab as a result.
There is a significant person we studied in Scripture who descended from Moab. She travelled from her homeland to Israel with her mother-in-law after her Jewish husband died. Remember Ruth, the Moabites? From the immorality of Lot’s older daughter came a people who gave us Ruth who is David’s great-grandmother and in the direct genealogy of Jesus!
Moab was certainly an enemy of Israel and while the people of God would have cheered about God judging them, we must remember that even in the midst of the most wicked people, God has His sheep!
Looking at Ammon now, the Ammonites were not concerned with the future resurrection of dead leaders. On the other hand they wanted to prevent future generations from their enemies, and so we see in Amos 1:13 “For three transgressions of the people of Ammon, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, Because they ripped open the women with child in Gilead, That they might enlarge their territory.”
They would defeat an army then attack expectant mothers and kill their unborn children.
The Ammonites were themselves wiped out with no hope of future generations. These arrogant nations made threats, attacked, and instigated all sorts of trouble, and God says He will make them like Sodom and Gomorrah. We took the long way around but here then is the sarcasm – where did Moab and Ammon come from in the first place? They came as a direct result of immorality and sin after the judgment and destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. What was God going to do to them? Send them back where they came from. He was going to turn them into Sodom and Gomorrah. And just as they were determined to destroy the future (resurrected leaders or the next generation) of their enemies God was going to make them to be perpetually desolate. Weeds and salt pits. And this is going to be awesome, as in terrifying, as God carries out this judgment and reduces these nations to nothing but a memory.
Amos describes the judgment this way, “The Lord roars from Zion, And utters His voice from Jerusalem; The pastures of the shepherds mourn, And the top of Carmel withers.” In our text, verse 11 describes it this way, “The Lord will be awesome to them, For He will reduce to nothing all the gods of the earth; People shall worship Him,
Each one from his place, Indeed all the shores of the nations.” Even in this judgment there are those to be called to salvation – what amazing grace this is!
But remember also, looking at our nation in light of the judgment coming upon the Ammonites, now in 2017, for 44 years it has been legal in our nation to murder children in their mother’s wombs. How depraved are a people that would deny the most basic instinct of motherhood and allow a mother to kill her unborn child? Sixty million…sixty million…and you see, God is not judging our nation because of sixty million abortions. We have had sixty million abortions because God has turned us over to our sin. This is the judgment of God. Future generation have been decimated. Whole ethnic populations are being reduced and that was the whole point behind the founding of Planned Parenthood.
When you look at our nation please understand that whatever good may come with the changing of administrations we have elected pro-life Presidents before, we have nominated pro-life Supreme Court justices before and it is the forty-fourth year that it is still legal in this nation to murder children in their mother’s womb. It takes more than a change of administration, it takes a change of heart.
Some of what the church misses and some of what the pro-life movement misses is that to be on the front lines of this battle we as churches need to be prepared to help women who are pregnant. To help them with medical care, to help them with the basic necessities, to help them find someone to adopt. Do you know how long the lines are for people waiting to adopt – why is it so much more expensive to adopt than to abort?
It is because of our sin. It is not enough to pray. It is not enough to protest. It is not enough to fight. We must preach the gospel. It is the only solution. When you look and you see that God says to the Ammonites because of this sin specifically God will roar against you – God is roaring against us. And do not fall for this, I’ve seen this this week, for all of the historic achievement of a mostly peaceful transfer of power from administration to administration, from appointments to the cabinet of the new President that seem to be awesome appointments, to steps that seem to be in the right direction, this is still not the solution. The battle is still not done. And we should not rejoice and think that everything is over, it is done, and it is all good now.
Let me tell you this – we may have a professed pro-life President, but the blood of 3,000 children a day are on his hands now too because he has taken the mantle of power in this nation and we are still murdering children in the womb.
If you want to know how to pray look at Daniel chapter 9. Daniel went before God and he embraced the sins of his people as his sins. He repented and confessed them.
We may be exiles here. We may be citizens of heaven. But this is our nation and these are our sins. May God grant us repentance and a passion to stand for life.