If you visit the British Museum in London, you can see an archaeological artifact significant to today’s reading. The Mesha Stele, also known as the Moabite Stone, was discovered in 1868. The stone dates from about 840 B.C. and celebrates King Mesha of Moab’s victories over King Omri of Israel (1 Kings 16:23 28). It also contains the earliest known extrabiblical reference to the Hebrew name of God, YHWH.
The pride of the godless person reaches to the heavens and his head touches the cloud. Job 20:6
Today’s prophecies focus on two nations, Philistia (Jeremiah 47) and Moab (Jeremiah 48). The Philistines had been longtime enemies of Israel, mentioned throughout the Old Testament. They were conquered by Babylon in 604 B.C. The Moabites descended from Lot, the nephew of Abraham (see Gen. 19:36–38). Moab was conquered by Babylon in 582 B.C.
The graphic pictures of death, destruction, and exile can help us imagine what the siege, conquest, and burning of Jerusalem must have been like. Verse 9, which says “put salt on Moab” is difficult to translate. The NIV points to the idea of salt making farmland useless. Other translations say “Give wings to Moab” so they can try to escape (they can’t). Still another version says, “Set up a gravestone for Moab.” No matter which is correct, they paint a negative picture.
No matter how bad things got, God was in control. These judgments would happen “because the LORD has spoken” (v. 8). And for good reason! The people of Moab trusted in their “deeds and riches” and in their false god Chemosh (v. 7), a religion where human sacrifice was practiced. They trusted even more in themselves. The Moabs had committed the sin of pride. But even with this dismal picture, God gave Moab a future hope of restoration (v. 47).
The sin of pride can easily slip by us unnoticed. In what or whom are we trusting? Do we, with false pride, think that we are in charge of our own destiny? Confess this sin to God today.