Hatred can be worst when it’s between brothers or close relatives. Probably because our expectations are much higher for people who are supposed to be our kin.
In the same way, the Moabites should have had a much better relationship with the Israelites, but didn’t. They were related through Abraham and Lot. Abraham, of course, was the father of the Jewish nation, while Lot was the father of the Moabites.
But the relationship between these two nations were rarely good. And now at this point in time, God was bringing judgment upon Moab. But Isaiah’s response to it is very different from anything else you see in the rest of the judgments against the nations (aside from Israel and Judah, that is).
My heart cries out over Moab…My heart laments for Moab like a harp, my inmost being for Kir Hareseth. (15:5; 16:11)
Why did Isaiah weep for his enemies? Probably because they were supposed to be brothers. And though Moab had much bad blood with Israel and Judah, still, Isaiah cared deeply for them.
He begged them to go to Judah and to take shelter there, and begged Judah to take them in. And he gave the Moabites words of comfort, that their oppressors (the Assyrians) would come to an end, and that if they would just come to Judah, one from the house of David would grant them relief and justice. (16:1-4)
He says in verse 5 of chapter 16,
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 justice.
In other words, their only hope would come from the Messiah who was to come and reign in Jerusalem.
Unfortunately, the Moabites would not heed Isaiah’s pleas, and they were reduced to a very small remnant as a result.
As I read this, it reminds me of the compassion we need even for those who hate us. Sometimes we feel betrayed by those who are closest to us.
But instead of rejoicing in their troubles, we should be praying for them. And like Isaiah, we should be pleading that they turn to Christ, and to let them know that their only hope of salvation comes through him.
How about you? When you see people who hate you suffering, do you rejoice? Or do you weep? Do you say, “Good riddance?” Or do you pray for their restoration?
Jesus taught us,
Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)
Jesus not only taught it, he lived it, praying for those who hated him, even as he was dying on the cross.
And because he did, salvation has come to all those who will believe in him.
May we extend the same mercy we have received even to those who hurt us.