“We have heard of Moab’s pride— how great is her arrogance!— of her insolence, her pride, her conceit and the haughtiness of her heart. I know her insolence but it is futile,” declares the Lord , “and her boasts accomplish nothing. Therefore I wail over Moab, for all Moab I cry out, I moan for the people of Kir Hareseth. I weep for you, as Jazer weeps, you vines of Sibmah. Your branches spread as far as the sea ; they reached as far as Jazer. The destroyer has fallen on your ripened fruit and grapes. Joy and gladness are gone from the orchards and fields of Moab. I have stopped the flow of wine from the presses; no one treads them with shouts of joy. Although there are shouts, they are not shouts of joy. “The sound of their cry rises from Heshbon to Elealeh and Jahaz, from Zoar as far as Horonaim and Eglath Shelishiyah, for even the waters of Nimrim are dried up. In Moab I will put an end to those who make offerings on the high places and burn incense to their gods,” declares the Lord . “So my heart laments for Moab like the music of a pipe; it laments like a pipe for the people of Kir Hareseth. The wealth they acquired is gone. Every head is shaved and every beard cut off; every hand is slashed and every waist is covered with sackcloth. On all the roofs in Moab and in the public squares there is nothing but mourning, for I have broken Moab like a jar that no one wants,” declares the Lord . – Jeremiah 48:29-38
The prophecy concerning Moab continues in this passage. Yesterday’s post ended with the Moabites becoming a “bush in the desert”. Here they will become a “jar that no one wants”. It paints a bleak picture of the consequences of “Moab’s pride— how great is her arrogance.” Moab has a “haughtiness of her heart”.
What does it mean to have a haughty heart? The heart has been used to represent our inner self, or soul, in previous passages I have floated past (Proverbs 21:1-3, Psalm 69:30-36, Joshua 7:3-9). Haughty is an interesting word, apparently it comes from an Old French word “haut”, which literally means “lofty”. So God is accusing these people of having lofty souls which, on the face of it, would not seem to be bad. I think the trouble is the source of the people’s “loftiness”. They feel like they are high and mighty. but they are not gaining this height through God almighty. They are elevating themselves by their possessions and pride.
The next several sentences are devoted to a description of the despair and destruction that will come to Moab. There will be much weeping and wailing. All the features of their life and culture will be altered and/or removed, “even the waters of Nimrim are dried up.” This statement about drying up the waters of Nimrim sounded very familiar to me. It turns out that there is a very similar description of destruction provided back in Isaiah 15:5-9.
The passage continues by providing an insight into the heart of God, “So my heart laments for Moab like the music of a pipe; it laments like a pipe for the people of Kir Hareseth.” I had to pray and think hard about this murky metaphor before I gained even a shard of understanding. God’s heart, or soul, laments the loss of the people of Moab in some fashion like the music of a pipe. The pipe or flute is one of my favorite instruments. I wish I had musical talent to play, but alas I have almost no musical talent.
A flute or pipe is a wind instrument, meaning it is human breath that makes the music. So for God to compare His sense of spiritual loss to the music from a pipe is to say that the this event in Moab, and what appears to be an earthly mess, is also a profound spiritual battle in which God is lamenting the spiritual loss of the people of Moab. It is almost as if God regrets Moab being so completely broken, “I have broken Moab like a jar that no one wants”.
There is really no “happy ending” within the passage. The happy ending comes much later when Jesus comes to make it clear that there is no such thing as a jar that no one wants. We are all broken pieces of pottery in need of a Savior.
Prayer: God Your heart sings for us out of the darkness. Thank You for accepting all of us “broken jars”.