Scriptural Gem for November 2012

In Jeremiah 48:11-13 we read: 'Moab has been at rest from youth, like wine left on its dregs, not poured from one jar to another—she has not gone into exile. So she tastes as she did, and her aroma is unchanged. But days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will send men who pour from pitchers, and they will pour her out; they will empty her pitchers and smash her jars'.

In Zephaniah 1:12 we read: At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps and punish those who are complacent, who are like wine left on its dregs, who think, ‘The Lord will do nothing, either good or bad.’

Jeremiah chapter 48 contains a judgement against Moab. Moab was also called 'the fruitful land' and we are reminded that Naomi and her husband and their sons moved to Moab when there was a famine in Israel (Ruth chapter 1). It is interesting to note God's instruction to the Israelites concerning the Moabites in Deuteronomy 2:9: '..Do not harass the Moabites or provoke them to war; for I will not give you any part of their land. I have given Ar to the descendants of Lot (Moabites) as a posession.' So, we see that not only did God give the Moabites their land, He also made it fruitful and furthermore instructed the Israelites not to harass them. It would seem as if God meant for them to settle forever and prosper.

However, in Jeremiah 48 we find that God is very displeased indeed with the Moabites and says that they have not been poured from jar to jar and have been left on their dregs. When wine was made, the winemakers would pour the wine from one jar to another in order to get rid of the dregs. If left on the dregs, the wine would just turn to vinegar. In Zephaniah 1:12 the term 'wine settled on its dregs' is used. The word 'settled' in the original Hebrew means 'to congeal or thicken' and is associated there with complacency.

There is a big lesson for us here as regards our human condition. We may well desire a life like the Moabites had - land gifted by God, made fruitful, at peace. However, the default human setting is to become complacent and comfortable and take things for granted. It is vital for us to be poured from jar to jar in order to get rid of our dregs and to be purified. It may be uncomfortable and unsettling but a great work is accomplished in our souls through it. In the end we see that God has no choice but to have the Moabites poured out onto the ground and their jars smashed. Instead of complaining bitterly, let us rather submit to God when He pours us out of our comfort zone, from jar to jar lest we congeal on our dregs and have to face the same fate as the Moabites...