Scripture: from verse 1
Woe to the land of whirring wings…
Observation: The next line identifies his target as the land beyond the rivers of Ethiopia. I’m not sure what people group that was at the time, but a couple of commentaries seem to think it’s Egypt, Ethiopia, or Cush. So that’s not terribly helpful.
In any case, the point is that “The Land of Whirring Wings” is a very cool name. And despite being an enemy of God, this nation has been deriving its identity from its wildlife – which God created. The prophet later calls them “a nation tall and bronzed,” which is again both a point of pride for these people and something that God created.
We have a bad habit of taking pride in things we didn’t make and don’t control. Sometimes it’s obvious that we are doing this, as it is for this nation. Sometimes it’s more subtle, when chance and choice architecture and poorly-understood social forces have played a far larger part in an outcome than we realize. Either way, we should be spending far more time than we do being grateful for what we have been given.
It’s a beautiful world God made. We’re just living in it.
Application: Notice when God gives you things. Be grateful.
Prayer: Yeshua, thank you for giving me so many things. Thank you for the weather today and the birds outside and the fact that my hair is behaving well. Help me to remember that you have given them to me. Amen.
Scripture: from verse 7
Therefore they carry away their wealth,
everything they have put aside
Observation: Now Moab is getting punished. At least God is an equal-opportunity smiter? Okay, not really.
Anyway. The river is full of blood and the fields are dead, so the people are fleeing, carrying the scraps of wealth that they have in portable format. These days much of our wealth is portable (not our houses, of course, but other things) but back then their land was their wealth and their history and their anchor, and leaving it left them devastated.
The statistics on people’s saving habits these days are pretty terrible. We don’t save. We don’t put anything aside. I’ve been reading a lot about behavioral economics lately (I’m auditing the fabulous Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior) and one of the things they study is why we make these decisions. And what we learn is that people don’t think rationally. We think of our future self as a stranger, unconnected to ourselves. We figure that the decisions we made should be repeated, that our instincts are reliable, that the current trends will continue. As soon as a decision gets complicated, we just go with the default option – which is usually doing nothing.
There’s a reason God tells us not to rely on our own understanding (Proverbs 3). It’s pretty terrible.
So here we have people who have been relying on their own understanding, and they are experiencing the consequences of it. Not only is God punishing them, but their fallback plan is also flawed, because they haven’t been listening.
Application: Listen to what God says. Know your biases.
Prayer: Father, thank you for my husband, who is really good at financial planning stuff. It is a great relief to know that we can work together on those things. Help me to know where I’m making foolish decisions. Amen.