Isaiah 16:3-5 “Give us counsel, render a decision. Make your shadow like night – at high noon. Hide the fugitives, do not betray the refugees. Let the Moabite fugitives stay with you; be their shelter from the destroyer.” The oppressor will come to an end, and destruction will cease; the aggressor will vanish from the land. In love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a man will sit on it – one from the house of David – one who in judging seeks justice and speeds the cause of righteousness.
These verses occur in the middle of two chapters in Isaiah where the prophet is pronouncing God’s Judgement on Moab. The Moabites were distant cousins of the Israelites (the descendants of Lot’s older daughter’s incestuous relationship with her father) but they had been a constant thorn in Israel’s side, either as enemies in war, or seducers in peace.
But God’s Judgement is neither arbitrary nor vindictive, and he always has a deep concern for fugitives and refugees who might be caught up in such devastating Judgement. Here in the midst of his condemnation of the wicked pride and arrogance of Moab he inserts a contrasting message of hope – the promise of a Deliverer from David’s line whose rule would be characterised by love and faithfulness as well as justice and righteousness. In the immediate context, it is not without significance that David’s great-grandmother, Ruth, was herself a Moabitess! This is how God’s grace works – always far-reaching and inclusive.
And it was with outstretched arms (on a cruel cross of shame) that David’s descendant combined love and faithfulness with righteousness and justice. This is what Elizabeth Clephane was referring to when she penned the words: “Beneath the cross of Jesus I gladly take my stand, the shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land; a home within a wilderness, a rest upon the way from the burning of the noontide heat, and the burden of the day. O safe and happy shelter! O refuge, tried and sweet! O sacred place where heaven’s love and heaven’s justice meet; as to the exiled patriarch the wondrous dream was given, so seems my Saviour’s cross to me a ladder up to heaven. There lies beneath its shadow, but on the farther side, the darkness of an awful grave that gapes both deep and wide; and there between us stands the cross, two arms, outstretched to save, like a watchman set to guard the way from that eternal grave. Upon that cross of Jesus my eyes at times can see the very dying form of One who suffered there for me; and from my stricken heart, with tears, two wonders I confess: the wonder of redeeming love, and my own worthlessness. I take, O cross, your shadow for my abiding place! I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of your face; content to let the world go by, to know no gain or loss, my sinful self my only shame, my glory all – the Cross!”
This is the grace on which we depend when we see the arrogance and pride of our own hearts.
– Bruce Christian