There are times when it seem like everything is falling apart, not crashing down, as it were, but just coming apart at the seams.
First, there is a morning migraine. I used to get them all the time, but now not so often. Worries always seem to grow when you haven’t the strength to do anything about them: the beast that boards with us, who hovers always at the edge of self-control; my husband, who has been less indulgent and older and more confused than usual; problems with the publication of my book and the uncomfortable feeling that I am dealing with idiots; not to mention my most un-Christian response to that dilemma. So, seeking shelter, I clicked open the Bible and searched until I encountered this strange verse in Isaiah.
Make your shadow like the night in the middle of the day;
Hide the outcasts,
Do not betray him who escapes.
Let My outcasts dwell with you, O Moab;
Be a shelter to them from the face of the spoiler. [Isaiah 16:3-4]
Lately, I have become entangled in the mysteries of the Old Testament, of which there are many, very surprising in unexpected ways. But here I found shelter. If there is anything a migraine sufferer likes, it’s to be out of the sun, so a shadow like night in the middle of the day appeals. In fact, I took a nap not long after to think about this whole short passage. And here’s what I came up with, the gist of it. We, the outcasts, are escaping from the spoiler, who is Satan, the destroyer. But why to Moab? Do you realize who the Moabites are, not exactly the most favored people in the OT world. They are the descendants of Lot’s incestuous relationship with one of his daughters, after their escape from Sodom. Get that. He was spared from destruction in Sodom because of his righteousness and then he falls mightily afterwards. Yet Jesus is descended from Lot, through Moab, through Ruth, a great grandmother of King David. There is outcast in His blood too, my friends.
So either the land of Moab happened to be nearby whatever was happening to the Israelites at the time they needed to flee, or there is something this verse is supposed to be telling us. Since Isaiah is a prophet and not a historian, let’s go with the latter. For some reason the outcasts are being sent to live among other outcasts for a while. They will be hidden from the face of the spoiler because everyone there looks like an outcast. This is not a pleasant shelter but a dry and thirsty land. And so it would seem as we read the rest of this verse. Things get worse and worse in Moab and eventually the country gets the punishment it deserves, as it would seem and usually, as it is in the OT, for worshiping false gods in high places and also fighting against God’s chosen people–that doesn’t help either.
The moral of the story is: you may be an outcast and you may seek shelter, but watch out where you land. Stay true to the one true God, and He will lift you up. Cast your own shadow. Don’t try to blend in with those among whom you find temporary shelter, even if they rescue you when you need rescuing. You can just as easily end up toast at the end.
Judgment and justice and righteousness all mean the same thing for the righteous. For the guilty, however, it’s a different story.
He is the Rock on which we stand. If you don’t know Him, just remember: the clock is definitely ticking.