The Theology of Glory.

“Judgment has come upon the tableland, upon Holon, and Jahzah, and Mephaath, and Dibon, and Nebo, and Beth-diblathaim, and Kiriathaim, and Beth-gamul, and Beth-meon, and Kerioth, and Bozrah, and all the cities of the land of Moab, far and near. The horn of Moab is cut off, and his arm is broken, declares the Lord.

“Make him drunk, because he magnified himself against the Lord, so that Moab shall wallow in his vomit, and he too shall be held in derision. Was not Israel a derision to you? Was he found among thieves, that whenever you spoke of him you wagged your head?

“Leave the cities, and dwell in the rock,
    O inhabitants of Moab!
Be like the dove that nests
    in the sides of the mouth of a gorge.
We have heard of the pride of Moab—
    he is very proud—
of his loftiness, his pride, and his arrogance,
    and the haughtiness of his heart.
I know his insolence, declares the Lord;
    his boasts are false,
    his deeds are false.
Therefore I wail for Moab;
    I cry out for all Moab;
    for the men of Kir-hareseth I mourn.
More than for Jazer I weep for you,
    O vine of Sibmah!
Your branches passed over the sea,
    reached to the Sea of Jazer;
on your summer fruits and your grapes
    the destroyer has fallen.
Gladness and joy have been taken away
    from the fruitful land of Moab;
I have made the wine cease from the winepresses;
    no one treads them with shouts of joy;
    the shouting is not the shout of joy.

“From the outcry at Heshbon even to Elealeh, as far as Jahaz they utter their voice, from Zoar to Horonaim and Eglath-shelishiyah. For the waters of Nimrim also have become desolate. And I will bring to an end in Moab, declares the Lord, him who offers sacrifice in the high place and makes offerings to his god. Therefore my heart moans for Moab like a flute, and my heart moans like a flute for the men of Kir-hareseth. Therefore the riches they gained have perished.” Jeremiah 48:21-36 ESV

The Moabites were evidently a prideful people. And, as God continues His oracle against them, He focuses His attention on that particular characteristic. They were a nation that had experienced its fair share of success. They had enjoyed a relatively peaceful existence and had developed a reputation for being excellent vintners. Their wine was of an excellent quality and was highly sought after. God has already used weaved into His oracle several references to wine.

“Moab has been at ease from his youth
    and has settled on his dregs;
he has not been emptied from vessel to vessel… – Jeremiah 48:11 ESV

…I shall send to him pourers who will pour him, and empty his vessels and break his jars in pieces.” – Jeremiah 48:12 ESV

And God is not done. He continues to utilize references to wine as declares His coming judgment against Moab.

“Make him drunk, because he magnified himself against the Lord, so that Moab shall wallow in his vomit, and he too shall be held in derision. – Jeremiah 48:26 ESV

The Moabites would become like a man who drinks wine with a care-free attitude, seemingly without a problem in the world, only to end up staggering drunk and walloing in his own vomit. And God makes it clear that the real issue behind His anger with Moab is their insolence and pride. They saw themselves an blessed in some way. Perhaps they believed that their false god, Chemosh, was the source of their ongoing success. They probably believed that their worship of him had brought them peace and prosperity. And as they found themselves enjoying relatively good times and a trouble-free existence, they began to believe that they were invincible and destined for further greatness.

This kind of attitude is what Martin Luther referred to as “the theology of glory.” It was a religious belief put man at the center of all things. A theology of glory makes the god who is being worshiped, a distributor of blessings. He becomes like a grand gift-giver, who hands out health, wealth, happiness and success to those who worship him well. Pleasing your god brings you his pleasure, in the form of tangible blessings, like protection, ease, comfort, victories over your enemies, and a trouble-free existence. In a theology of glory, there is no place for pain, suffering, sickness or struggle. Those are the signs of a displeased deity. And they are to be avoided at all costs.

But the Moabites were about to discover that Yahweh, the God of the Jews, was not happy with them. Their theology of glory did not take into account the one-and-only God of the universe. He had had enough of their pride, arrogance, and self-inflated sense of self-importance.

“We have all heard of the pride of Moab,
    for his pride is very great.
We know of his lofty pride,
    his arrogance, and his haughty heart.
I know about his insolence,”
    says the Lord,
“but his boasts are empty—
    as empty as his deeds.” – Jeremiah 48:29-30 NLT

Their theology of glory was about to run headlong into the theology of God’s judgment. Their prideful arrogance was going to be dealt a deadly blow by God’s righteous indignation. And once again, God reverts back to His wine comparisons.

“Joy and gladness are gone from fruitful Moab.
    The presses yield no wine.
No one treads the grapes with shouts of joy.
    There is shouting, yes, but not of joy.” – Jeremiah 48:33 NLT

They had believed that they were blessed by their god. They had been convinced that Chemosh was happy with them and it had shown up in all kinds of ways. Their wines were shipped across the seas and the profits flowed back into their hands. Their wealth had increased. Their reputation had grown. And their pride had swelled. But God has bad news for them. “Therefore the riches they gained have perished” (Jeremiah 48:36 ESV). When He was done with them, their pride would be broken, their vineyards destroyed, their reputation sullied, their wealth taken from them, and their theology of glory exposed for what it is: A lie and a delusion.

They had left the one true God out of the equation. They had concocted a god of their own making. These descendants of Lot, who had at one time been worshipers of Yahweh, had determined to leave Him in the dust and seek out their own god. But their disobedience would not go unpunished forever.

“I will put an end to Moab,” says the Lord, “for the people offer sacrifices at the pagan shrines and burn incense to their false gods.” – Jeremiah 48:35 NLT

Idolatry is an abomination to God. He will not tolerate the worship of false gods. He will not put up with men who make gods of their own choosing, and who then become boastful and arrogant when they begin to believe that their success is due to their lifeless, helpless deity. God will not share His glory with anyone or anything. God will not tolerate the worship of anything other than Himself. And the pride of the Moabites had become nothing less than just another god they worshiped. They served the god of self. It was all about them – their pleasure, success, happiness, comfort, and health. But God was going to turn their pride into humiliation, their joy into sorrow, their success to failure, and their confidence into defeat.

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson