The Moabites’ Sin and Neutralizing the Scriptures

A couple of my readings came together in a way I hadn’t expected this morning. An interesting blend of the Old Testament and the New. Jeremiah and John dove-tailing to serve as a bit of a warning for those who might go through the right actions but for the wrong reasons. A heads up as to how a mis-tuned heart corrupts the pure water of the word. This morning I’m thinking about the Moabites’ sin and how it can neutralize the Scriptures.

Jeremiah 48 records the prophet’s word of judgment against the nation of Moab. Moab, the nation born of Lot’s oldest daughter, conceived when she and her sister got their father drunk and lay with him in order that they might have children after their husbands were destroyed in God’s judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:30-38). Moab, the nation perpetually opposed to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob . . . whose king retained Balaam, prophet for hire, to curse the descendants of Jacob and denounce Israel (Numbers 22).

And as I’m reading Jeremiah’s “thus says the Lord” of judgment against Moab I come across a twice repeated phrase that, I think, hits at the core of their sin . . . “he magnified himself against the Lord” (48:26, 42) . . . which is further expanded upon in verse 29 . . .

We have heard of the pride of Moab–he is very proud–of his loftiness, his pride, and his arrogance, and the haughtiness of his heart.   (Jeremiah 48:29 ESV)

Bottom line . . . this nation, born out of the self-seeking, self-preserving, desires of a girl who would drug and sleep with her father in order to have a child, continued to be all about itself . . . growing to systemically oppose the things of God in order to preserve itself. End result . . . God wins . . . they lose.

Fast forward to John’s gospel . . . Jesus is speaking to Jews seeking to kill him, “because not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God” (John 5:18). Now, get this indictment . . . this “thus says the Lord” from the incarnate Word of God . . .

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me that you may have life. . . I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?   (John 5:39-44 ESV)

BAM! . . . how can you believe when you are seeking glory for yourself, or, as Jeremiah says, when you are about magnifying yourself?  They were searching the Scriptures . . . good deal! They were wanting to find eternal life . . . yeah, press on! But, at the center of it all, was their glory . . . their greatness . . . they wanted to magnify themselves, even if it meant opposing the Lord.

And I can’t help but think there’s a warning here. If we read the Scriptures with ourselves at its center . . . if it’s about what it means for me . . . if we seek to understand and apply the Word in order to magnify ourselves . . . then we neutralize the Scriptures. But when God is the central theme . . . when it’s about Him . . . when we desire to know His glory through His revealed Word . . . then, we find eternal life . . . we find abundant life . . . we find life to full. When the glory we seek is God’s glory . . . then we see Jesus . . . then we come to Jesus . . . then we are conformed to the image of Jesus. When it’s about Him . . . He will do His work in us . . . that it might be for His glory.

Makes sense?

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