If you have ever worked with colored stains, you know that it’s important to give the can a good stir before using it because if you don’t stir things up, all the pigment stays at the bottom and the stain is not very effective.
When the Lord described the Moabites, He said they were like wine that had “settled on his lees,” or dregs. I’m no wine expert, so I had to look this up. Apparently, a wine settling on its dregs is not necessarily a bad thing – for wine. The dregs add to the flavor. Whether you drink them or leave them is entirely up the wine drinker. When God described the Moabites in this way, it was not meant as a compliment. He meant that they were becoming heady, high-minded and complacent. They were full of themselves.
Since the days of Moses, the Moabites had enjoyed peace and prosperity. God even told Moses to leave the Moabites alone as the Israelites journeyed to the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 2:9-10). For a time, they were under tribute to Israel, but when civil war broke Israel in two, the Moabites were able to break free and even regain territory they had once lost to Israel. By the time the prophet Jeremiah speaks of them they were pretty satisfied with themselves and this made them arrogant and judgmental, especially of Israel (Jeremiah 48:14, 29). They rejoiced at Israel’s calamities when her enemies attacked (Jeremiah 48:27).
This arrogant, complacent mindset can become true of anyone who has become satisfied with his standing and who forgets his place. “Wherefore let him that [thinks] he [stands] take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). If you want to see if this is you, consider your attitude the next time someone comes to church who does not look, act (or smell) like you. If your immediate response to someone like that is to judge, you’re like wine settled on its dregs. None of us has a standing before God that we can claim we have earned on our own. We all stand on grace.
How does someone get to that arrogant state? Usually, it’s the difference between religion and relationship. A faith founded on one’s religion is founded on routine and status: “I dress right, I act right, I go to church regularly and I have all kinds of blessings. So, that means I am right.” When a religious person sees someone come to church who isn’t dressed right, who doesn’t act right or isn’t one of them, their immediate response is one of disdain, much like the Moabites’ reaction to Israel. A faith founded on relationship to God also seeks to dress right, act right and come to church, but it’s for an entirely different reason. It’s done out of love for God, not for display of status. When they see someone come to church who isn’t like church-going people, their response is to welcome them and to show them the love of Christ because more than anything they want others to know their God too. A faith founded on relationship is always stirred up because it is constantly being stirred by the Spirit into action.
What’s the cure for those who are set on their dregs, whose concern is more about maintaining their status and the status quo? God’s remedy is to stir them up and dump them out, so they stop being so full of themselves. He said the Moabites’ problem was that they had “not been emptied from vessel to vessel” (Jeremiah 48:11b). So, He this is what he prescribed:
(12) Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will send unto him wanderers, that shall cause him to wander, and shall empty his vessels, and break their bottles.
(13) And Moab shall be ashamed of Chemosh, as the house of Israel was ashamed of Bethel their confidence.
What does all that mean? It meant that God was going to send people their way who would shake them up, upset their way of life and shatter their false confidences. God was going to drive them out of their comfort zone. Is this where you are finding yourself now? Has God reached into your life and shaken it like a snow globe as if He just wants to see the flakes fly? If He is, take heart. He’s not seeking to ruin you. He’s seeking to stir you up so that you can be of greater effect.
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Personal note: This one’s late because I went to men’s prayer breakfast this morning and then ran some errands in town. But I’m OK. So, now all both of my fans can breathe a sigh of relief. 🙂