Amos now turns his attention to the people of Moab.
Burning the bones of the King of Edom
Edom formed a natural border between Moab and Israel. In 2 Kings 3 we read of Edom breaking their covenant with Moab and joining Israel in an attack against them. They gave Israel passage through their land and joined them in an assault on Moab. This enraged the King of Moab. He was so angry with the King of Edom that he took his best soldiers and made it his sole objective to kill him, in many respects conceding the battle and focusing solely on vengeance. He was filled with so much rage and hatred against the King of Edom that he sacrificed his own son as a human sacrifice in order to get the aid of his idol in exacting vengeance on the King of Edom. The Moabites hatred for the King of Edom was so great that after his death they invaded Edom, dug up his body, and burned it into lime. Tradition says that the lime was then mixed into a plaster and used to plaster the walls of the King of Moab’s palace.
Vengeance is the Lord’s
In some respects the sin of Moab was the desecration of a human corpse; however, the issue is far more of a burning hatred that would exact vengeance upon a man even after his death. The Scripture is clear that vengeance belongs to the Lord (Romans 12:19.) The Scriptures give a clear path for human retribution; God has ordained the civil government to exact punishment, not the individual (Romans 13:1-5.)
We are called to forgive
In Matthew 18 we read of a man who refuses to forgive the wrong done to him. In the story, the man who refuses to forgive is in prison and the man who did the wrong goes free. Refusal to forgive the wrongs done to us imprisons our souls. If we refuse to forgive, men can literally enslave us from the grave. Like the King of Moab we can plaster our souls with hatred and miss out on all the good that is around us. We can even sacrifice our children and families in order to keep our hatred. We must forgive as we have been forgiven.
We have betrayed our covenant with God far more than the King of Moab was betrayed by the King of Edom. We have sinned against a far superior King. God could let His wrath and vengeance burn forever, yet God has chosen to freely forgive through His Son Jesus Christ. He did not sacrifice His Son in order to exact vengeance; He sacrificed His Son in order to freely forgive.
Forgiveness and reconciliation
As Christians we are commanded to forgive and seek reconciliation. Forgiveness is when we let go of the sin done to us and no longer hold it against the person who wronged us. This is something that takes place within our hearts alone. Reconciliation is an entirely different thing. Reconciliation is the restoring of a relationship; this requires action by both parties. True reconciliation requires an honest confession of all wrong done and a change of behavior. Jesus requires us to forgive and seek reconciliation, but many times reconciliation is not possible because one party refuses to repent. Even if reconciliation is not possible God’s people are still required to forgive.
Will you receive the forgiveness that Jesus freely offers? Will you forgive those who have wronged you?