What's So Special About Moab?
I am currently reading in the book of Isaiah. I found myself, early this week, asking the Lord to please help me understand this book because while I know there is a lot of foreshadowing of the promised Messiah, I felt there was more I was missing. Then I stumbled across Moab and a fascinating history lesson.
Moab has a very rough start in life He is the product of incest between Lot (Abraham's nephew) and his oldest daughter. Yes, his grandfather is also his father (yikes!). Fast forward and we see the Moabites (Moab and all his family) settling on the east side of the Jordan river. In fact, they are there when God is delivering Israel from Egypt. When they encounter Israel as they are moving towards the promised land, they refuse hospitality to them. They won't bring them food or drink. Not only did they refuse hospitality to Israel but Balaak, the Moabite king, tried to stop them from marching through the wilderness. He sends Balaam, a sorcerer, to try and curse the Israelite's. It doesn't work though, because Balaam in the end, bows to the one true God. (Num. 25) God's consequence for their lack of hospitality is exclusion from his chosen people for ten generations to come. (Deut. 23:3-4) Pagan, perverse, wicked; these are the words that describe Moab. They are not a godly people by any means.
Then there's Ruth. Ruth! Do you know the story of Ruth? Ruth is married to the son of Naomi. Naomi is a widow and Ruth becomes a widow as well. Naomi is a daughter of Israel. Ruth is a Moabite. If you know this story, you are already catching on and getting a little excited. Ruth is from the line of Moab. Moab, the product of sexual perversion. A pagan, inhospitable people. Ruth makes a passionate commitment to Naomi. She tells Naomi,
"Where you go I will go. Where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people
and your God my God." (Ruth 1:16)
Ruth is passionately devoted to Naomi. She and Naomi leave Moab and return to Naomi's hometown, Bethlehem. It is in Bethlehem that Ruth meets Boaz, a man of great standing in the community. A beautiful love story is created for them and Ruth marries him and he gives her a son. Through that son, Ruth is brought into the family line of David which leads us to Jesus. In fact, she is one of only five women mentioned in the genealogy of Christ found in Matthew, chapter one.
Moabite blood runs through the family line of Jesus. The pagan, self serving, perverse nation that was cut off for a time because of their sin, they are now included in the blood line of the king of kings. Miraculous! In Isaiah chapter fifteen, the destruction of Moab is being foretold. In chapter sixteen, however, we see another foretelling of the messiah.
"The oppressor will come to an end, and destruction will cease:
the aggressor will vanish from the land. In love a throne will be
established; in faithfulness a man will sit on it - one from the house
of David - one who in judging seeks justice and speeds
the cause of righteousness." Isaiah 16:4-5
Jesus! Jesus comes from Ruth, who is a Moabite. Why? Why does God choose to weave all of this into his story? Redemption. Redemption is the song God sings. He heals us in the groaning of his heart, he binds up the worst of our wounds, our sins, our shortcoming. He sends us himself, filling his veins with the blood of sinners and traitors so that those very sinners and traitors might be saved.
Maybe, you find yourself at times feeling like its all too much. Your sin, your failure, maybe you see it and feel nothing but shame. Remember Moab. Remember Ruth. Ruth, filled with the blood of her Moabite ancestors, turns her heart to the one true God and he redeems her story. God's story isn't about punishment and retribution, friends. God's story is about mercy and forgiveness. You can find that from page one of his word to the very last. He spent many, many years weaving a story that would be full of redemption. Then when the time was right, he came down here himself, and brought the completion of that story. All he requires of us today is the same thing we see in Ruth, so many, many years ago.
He requires surrender.
Surrender your past, your failure, all of it. Surrender to the God of redemption and watch what he will do. He will not turn his face from you. He will rejoice over you. He will rebuild what sin has destroyed. He will weave your name into the genealogy of Christ, just like he did for the wicked nation of Moab. Their redemption was not earned, but was given freely through the mercy of the everlasting God. Turn your heart to God, like Ruth...and be redeemed.