Concerning Moab: Arrogant Autonomy

Amos 2:1-3

This #6 of 8 judgments declared by Amos, last of ones directed to foreign nations. Really gets at root of all the trouble… for foreign nations… and Jewish people. Parallels story told near beginning of Book, first deception and its consequences.

How did Satan set Eve up? “Has God really given you these unreasonable boundaries?” “No, they’re not quite that unreasonable.” Eve beginning to chafe under God-imposed limits. Satan’s response: “Show God you can set own boundaries by putting them outside His.” Is what he meant when said she could be like God, knowing right and wrong and thus where to set her own limits. A desire for autonomy, the power to personally establish laws for themselves, what culminated in first sin.

Fast forward a generation – God warned Cain “if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Cain’s response as indicated by actions – he, not God, would decide where personal limits ought to be. iow, Adam and Eve and Cain would be autonomous; did not need God’s law, probably would not honor it. In reality trying to assume Satan’s image (“of your father the devil” – John 8:44) in place of God’s image, setting self up as personal god with right to establish personal laws. Trend continued, quickly – great-great-great-grandson of Cain, Lamech, boasting about his badness, 10x worse than Cain.

Previous judgment against Ammon, Lot’s son/grandson. Here against Moab, Ammon’s brother/cousin. Most of Moabite history colored by conflict with one neighbor or another, including Israel. Was Moabites who engaged services of Balaam, intending for him to put a curse on Israel, a plan that backfired. Even before Israel settled in Canaan, God promised destruction of Moab for their sinfulness. 600 years later, still in conflict with neighbors… and with God. Once again, God demonstrates mercy – gives advance warning of judgment, implies opportunity for repentance to avert consequences (think Nineveh).

A. particular, egregious sin – arrogant autonomy v.1

some question what the real issue was

not one time stepped over the line, is for habitual wrongdoing – characteristic of all those identified in litany of nations

consequences also not immediate – enough time passed to establish behavior pattern, stubborn persistence in it

some identify issue as “violent and vindictive hatred”; others as “desecration of dead body”, or “cruelty to brothers”

if apply same reasoning to Moab’s sin as others, what is described here should be typical of previous repeated wrongdoing

since no clear biblical witness to Edomite king dug up and burned by Moabites, need to look at what this kind of action represents

total disrespect of God’s appointed authority

since God has ultimate authority over all his creation, any lesser authority is derived from his / delegated by Him

don’t have to rely on human reasoning to figure that out, Paul states plainly: “the authorities that exist are appointed by God” Rom. 13:1

past and present kings of Edom ultimately received appointment from God – true regardless of how they chose to govern

declaring right to decide for self who to serve

by showing flagrant disrespect for neighboring king’s body, were by same action rejecting his right to exercise authority

were acting as if they had ultimate authority, right to decide who governed not only them but also neighbors

ultimately rebellion against God – Jer. 48:26 “because he exalted himself against the LORD” “magnified himself against the Lord” Jer. 48:42

maybe cut Moab some slack, only acting tough in immediate area, not trying to usurp God’s authority; Jeremiah disagrees

confirmed by Paul, Rom. 13:2 “Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.”

this gets to real issue, the one between Moab and God

relations with neighbors, even incinerating the king really symptoms of deeper problem – wrong relationship with true God

among Jews

mutual rejection resulting in divided kingdom – we’ll choose our own king – present in seed form Saul vs. David, peace and prosperity under Solomon moved to back burner

then Rehoboam, economic hardship (my little finger thicker than father’s waist), majority of tribes went with Jeroboam

deeper still, rejection of God as rightful king

dates back to time of Samuel – “make us a king to judge us like all the nations”; God’s response: “they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them” 1 Sam. 8:6-7

worse, declaring right to decide for self who to worship

even in Samuel’s day God charged people with “forsaking [him] and serving other gods” (1 Sam. 8:8), pattern continued

prior 5 judgments could encourage Jews to complacency – God taking care of their bad neighbors/enemies; Moab’s sin not against Israel, was really against God… and so was Israel/Judah’s sin

B. consequences v.2-3

Moab will be incinerated like king of Edom

extended prophetic description – Jer. 48 – some highlights

will be laid as low as thought they were exalted; will be crushed, not one town will escape, cities uninhabited and left in ruins; young men slaughtered; broken and shattered like unwanted jar, no longer a nation

in light of God’s redemptive purpose – warning to Jews: repent of sin or this will be your lot

another opportunity for Israel to be a light to the nations – example of God’s grace and mercy, restoration after repentance

should have guessed based on past history that God not pleased with Moab’s worship of Chemosh/Moloch – add two and two, God not pleased with Judah & Israel’s idolatry either

even Moab’s “destruction” would not be permanent – Jer. 48:47Yet I will restore the fortunes of Moab in the latter days, declares the LORD.”

God’s punishment in this age (Creation to Consummation) never has final condemnation as sole purpose, even Pharaoh – Rom. 9:17

has always had redemption in view, especially salvation through Christ – note Jeremiah’s reference to restoration “in the latter days”

hinge of history, former and latter days, pin = Christ’s first Advent – restoration of Moab promised in latter days, iow in Gospel days when proclamation of good news includes Gentiles

consequently, words of destruction do not mean obliteration – would be remnant at least of Moabites to be redeemed

C. today

current political landscape: here are two potential leaders just like yourselves

say what majority are thinking, do what promotes personal interests – skirt the law, flout the law, remake the law to suit self… like majority would do given opportunity

culture: demonstrations, alternate lifestyles, disobeying traffic laws, assisted suicide/right-to-die

many lately that at least push boundaries set by law if not ignore completely; lifestyle/relationship choices that totally disregard God’s law; obey laws when convenient, ignore when more convenient

then nearly ultimate in-your-face to God – deciding who has right to live, wanting right to die… choosing for self what fits desire

workplace: set own schedule, do job own way

decide if/when to show up, when to leave, when to quit without regard for anyone else; follow instruction only if someone is watching, maybe not then

home: children allowed to set rules, carries over into classroom

parents view God’s rules for parenting as old-fashioned, out-dated; expect children to be able to set own boundaries, iow making them independent little gods

Silas, Vietnam Wall, bear hug – parent: “doesn’t like that kind of contact, he’s gonna fight it”; uh-huh, may not be what he wants, is what he needs

church: pursuing what God has not authorized or sanctioned; claiming right to re-define his laws/boundaries

right to add/subtract elements from worship; decide which parts of Bible apply, which can be overlooked

decide this attribute of God overrules that one, consequently this law/principle must be reinterpreted to mean something else

ultimately, have gone beyond Luke 19:14“We do not want this man to reign over us” to “We will have no king to rule over us.”

“In the postmodern culture of the West, authority is under attack in every form, and a sense of personal autonomy is basic to contemporary ideals of human rights and freedom. We will have no king to rule over us; no parent to discipline us; no teacher to instruct us; and no truth to bind us. As two recent observers lament, “Americans have embraced freedom so tightly, they can see only one aspect of it, the side of autonomy.” Mohler

that mindset has had awful effects in public sphere, in home sphere, and within Christian church – can somehow have Christ for our Savior but not for our Lord/King

D. why a problem

God has rights of Creator-ship and ownership over all mankind

one who creates obviously has power, has right to do with creation whatever pleases him – applies regardless of spiritual condition

God designed creation to follow certain laws because that is what is best – failure to do so has built-in consequences plus whatever God has decreed for additional consequences

God has right of purchase over Christian – 1 Cor. 6:19-20

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

God did not purchase us back from sin so we could go on sinning; he expects we will instead become more like Jesus

to resist or reject God’s authority leads to disaster – ultimately to death

God exercises authority first for his own glory, also for good of his people; rejecting authority means rejecting what is good, even best – is also true for unbelievers

Our task – acknowledge and submit to his Lordship / Kingly rule in all spheres of life, encourage others to do the same.


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