The sights don’t move much, when trained on Moab a bit further south and closer, but still in Transjordan, and traditional enemies. Remember, that nation comes from Lot’s daughters. Remember, they slept incestuously with their father, after Sodom and Gomorrah burned! The Moabite’s victim was the king of Edom – even though Edom is an enemy, that’s too much lesé majesty to burn a king’s bones into lime.
Now, the crowd is half-silenced. What does it mean, to accuse Judah? That’s the southern half of our divided kingdom! The fault here is infidelity to the law and religious covenant with God, rather than war crimes. The consequence, however, is the same burnt capital city, and lost defensive strongholds. It’s one thing to accuse ‘them’ – but surely not ‘us’!
Next, the other half of the audience gets stuffed. What’s God’s beef with Israel? The rich mistreat the poor – not foreign countries, but domestic inequity. The poor and the sick are ground down for money. Did nobody remember Elijah? Sexual activity breaches the laws of Leviticus, when father and son sleep with the same woman, pawn brokers break the law about letting an indebted man sleep with his own cloak at least, and officials get drunk with money from fines.
Nobody remembers our founding myths. God displaced the Amorites to make room for Avram, and again for Joshua. God put down the Egyptians, then led Moses to overcome the Amorites too. We even corrupted the prophets, like Samson the Nazirite who broke the rules, and Samuel the Nazirite who chose Saul then let his corrupt sons defile his shrine. Does nobody see the pattern?
Here’s the threat: you’ll get stuck, like an overloaded cart (or the chariots of Egypt stuck in the mud). You strong will be slowed and weakened. You brave will be easily scared. The fasted will be slowed – except to run away from trouble and their allies. You’ll be gutless, enervated, easily overcome. That’s where Israel’s greed, and Judah’s infidelity will take us. Gotcha, says God.
Thus says the LORD: For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment;* because he burned to lime the bones of the king of Edom.
2 So I will send a fire on Moab, and it shall devour the strongholds of Kerioth, and Moab shall die amid uproar, amid shouting and the sound of the trumpet;
3 I will cut off the ruler from its midst, and will kill all its officials with him, says the LORD.
4 Thus says the LORD: For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment;* because they have rejected the law of the LORD, and have not kept his statutes, but they have been led astray by the same lies after which their ancestors walked.
5 So I will send a fire on Judah, and it shall devour the strongholds of Jerusalem.
6 Thus says the LORD: For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment;* because they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals—
7 they who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth, and push the afflicted out of the way; father and son go in to the same girl, so that my holy name is profaned;
8 they lay themselves down beside every altar on garments taken in pledge; and in the house of their God they drink wine bought with fines they imposed.
9 Yet I destroyed the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of cedars, and who was as strong as oaks; I destroyed his fruit above, and his roots beneath.
10 Also I brought you up out of the land of Egypt, and led you for forty years in the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite.
11 And I raised up some of your children to be prophets and some of your youths to be nazirites.* Is it not indeed so, O people of Israel? says the LORD.
12 But you made the nazirites* drink wine, and commanded the prophets, saying, ‘You shall not prophesy.’
13 So, I will press you down in your place, just as a cart presses down when it is full of sheaves.*
14 Flight shall perish from the swift, and the strong shall not retain their strength, nor shall the mighty save their lives;
15 those who handle the bow shall not stand, and those who are swift of foot shall not save themselves, nor shall those who ride horses save their lives;
16 and those who are stout of heart among the mighty shall flee away naked on that day, says the LORD.