This is a most precious chapter to the child of God – especially after reading the last one, which spoke of terrible judgments upon the earth. It contains promises given by the Lord Himself, as well as praises returned to Him by His people. We see the Gospel written all over this chapter; and the words are just as applicable to the present hour of the Church, as they were during the time in which they were first preached.
The Prophet, in the name of the Church, begins this song of praise. And without all doubt, it is a Gospel-song – in which our redemption by Jesus Christ is celebrated. It is true that this prophecy did have a reference to the ruin of Babylon and the return of the Jews who were exiled there, although their captivity there had not yet even begun. But we lose the whole beauty of this song, and the purpose for which it was handed down to us, if we do not see here the faithfulness and truth of the Lord in the accomplishment of redemption by Jesus! He has brought us out of captivity in the spiritual Babylon, and He has conquered all of our spiritual enemies – even Death itself, that last great enemy! What a precious reason indeed for every redeemed soul to sing aloud!
Verse 6 speaks of the Lord making a rich feast of the finest foods for His people. Surely the Prophet had an eye here to Israel’s joy when they would return after their Babylonian captivity to their own land; and in this sense, this verse and the rest of the chapter may be understood. But again, it would be very sad indeed for us to read of these precious things if they were not unfolded to us more clearly now by the Gospel! This verse points principally and fully to Jesus, and to the rich feast of salvation made by Him in the holy mountain of His own Church! It is a feast that is undeniably full of good things, and He Who made the feast has invited us to come and dine! (Prov. 9:1-5; Matt. 22:2-4; Luke 14:16-24) He has sent His faithful servants out into the lanes, streets, and highways of this world to find us and bring us in – even though we are poor, maimed, crippled, and blind. And our unworthiness is no obstacle at all to receiving such bountiful provisions from the hand of the Lord. This is the feast of the heavenly King, and those who are the highly privileged partakers of it may come and eat therefrom without money and without price.
“He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it” (verse 8). This verse alone would immediately show us that something infinitely more important was intended in this blessed chapter than the mere deliverance of the Jews from Babylonian captivity. Of Whom besides Jesus may it be said that He would swallow up death in victory? He is indeed the death of Death! How could tears be wiped away from all faces, until – by His blood – Jesus had first taken away all sin, which is the sole cause of tears? And how could the rebukes of sin, the rebukes of God’s broken law, the rebukes of His justice, the rebukes of all His creation, and even the rebukes of our own guilty consciences – how could these ever have been taken away, if Jesus had not become both sin and a curse for us, “so that we might be made the righteousness of God in him”? Blessings on You, O Lamb of God, for the accomplishment of all these precious things! We may rejoice in the assurance that we “shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord!” Although the Lord may chasten us sorely in this lifetime, He shall not give us over to the power of death (Ps. 118:17-18). It is true that we shall die, in the sense that our bodies shall cease to breathe and move on this earth. But for the child of God, Death has no claim upon him or her; it will only be the conveyance of our immortal soul to the presence of our Savior, until that glorious day when our bodies shall rise anew to live forever!
From the words in verses 10-12, let us observe that the Lord has uniformly – throughout all the Bible – connected the subject of the destruction of the foes of Himself and His Church with the salvation and deliverance of His people. Moab, in these verses, stands as a picture of all persons, organizations, and nations that oppose and oppress Christ’s Church, and who set themselves up against the Kingdom of the Gospel. No matter how much worldly people may amuse themselves with hopes that are as vain as a spider’s web, and promise themselves that peace and safety shall be their portion; they shall be found to be liars on the Great Last Day. When Jehovah first made known the purpose which had been in His heart from all eternity – namely, the setting up of His dear Son as the Head and King of His Church – then the devil set up his kingdom against Him. All, therefore, who oppose Jesus are taking sides with that apostate demon; and if they live and die in his service, they can have no inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ. Although they may seem to enjoy victory over God’s people for a while, they will surely be trodden down like straw. The high walls of their proud fort shall be brought down to the dust. What an awful thought! May the Lord’s grace preserve us and our families from being included in their number!
Lord, thank You for providing us with a feast of good things that are satisfying and nourishing to our souls, rather than leaving us with the carrion of this world! Amen.
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painting by Floris van Dyck, 1610 | Wikimedia Commons