Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sometimes judgment comes not as brimstone or earthquake, but as a moth

When you read the bible, stop frequently to ponder. Think about what you're reading. Also, frequently ask yourself, "What does this mean?"

We read about different metaphors in the bible, and we read about different insects and animals sometimes as a part of those metaphors. In Psalm 59:14 we read that enemies return at evening, howling "like a dog". In Proverbs 6:6, we are advised to be like the ant. Psalm 18:33 says, "He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights."

Sometimes God uses a metaphor to ascribe a quality to Himself. In Matthew 23:37 God says tenderly,

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!" See also Ruth 2:12.

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Insects mentioned quite often include the moth. Moths are mentioned several times.

"but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal." (Matthew 6:20)

"For the moth will eat them up like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool; but my righteousness will be forever, and my salvation to all generations." (Isaiah 51:8)

But see this verse from Hosea where God pronounces judgment on Israel, God says HE will be like the moth!

"I am like a moth to Ephraim, like rot to the people of Judah." (Hosea 5:12)

So in reading Hosea 5 when you come across a verse like this, stop and ponder, ask, what does it mean? What do moths do, how do they act, so we can better understand what God is saying here.

When we think of God working, we often think of Him powerfully and noisily working great things, such as in the scene from 1 Kings 19:11-12

"And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper."

But God works quietly too, as the low whisper showed. (NOT that God speaks to us today in a still, small voice, that was not the point of the verse). It's that He works loudly and demonstrably but also quietly.

It is the same with the moth. Though we think of judgments like brimstone and earthquakes, a judgment is also what the moth can do, and in a way, it is worse.

Moths (or moth larvae) work secretly, stealthily. You put away your clothes for the summer and when winter comes again you take out that sweater and it has been rendered useless because of all the holes in until it is good for nothing. It will not cover your nakedness anymore. Pulpit Commentary quotes Calvin:

"The meaning of the prophet is by no means obscure, and that is, that the Lord would by a slow corrosion consume both the people; and that, though he would not by one onset destroy them, yet they would pine away until they became wholly rotten."

Gill's Exposition says,

"Therefore will I be unto Ephraim as a moth,.... Which eats garments, penetrates into them, feeds on them privately, secretly, without any noise, and gradually and slowly consumes them; but at last utterly, that they are of no use and profit:"

Can there be a worse judgment? To awaken finding yourself one day wholly rotten? A slow but sure destruction that had come upon you? Not even having rated a loud showy judgment of brimstone, but a lowly worm having done you in.

S. Lewis Johnson ended his exposition of Hosea 5, a sermon titled "God Withdrawn", this way-

The perils of apostasy! When we apostatize from the faith, when we depart from the faith, when lethargy and indifference grips us, the real enemy is the Lord God Himself!

If you have believed in Jesus and your life is in a shambles because of indifference and because of  lethargy, the Lord God may be working like a moth in your life. May God help you to recognize what is really happening, and may He stir you by His Holy Spirit to come back to Him. Confess your sin, seek to put Him first in your life. Use the time He has given you for the glorification of His name. The remedy as Hosea puts it so plainly is, 'know the Lord.' " (Hosea 5:4)

Take protective measures against the moth's destructive capabilities by keeping your faith living and active. Study the word, know the Lord. Pray ceaselessly. Serve lovingly. Submit constantly. There will be no need to mothball your holy garment if you never put it away for a season!


  1. Just curious, Elizabeth, but would you liken this to what is sometimes called an "abandonment judgment" on a nation? Or do you think that's something of a different nature? You know, as in when like a country turns their back on God and seeks to remove God from their society, and you don't necessarily see God's hand of judgment move overtly--you don't see fire falling from the sky--but rather stuff just starts to go wrong and everything just falls apart bit by bit. He just lowers His hedge of protection and bad things that used to not happen or problems that used to work themselves out do and don't. I believe that's what we've seen happen to the United States, and it appears it's going to continue and accelerate if anything.

    1. It certainly could be. MacArthur speaks of five kinds of wrath, and the Wrath of Abandonment is one of those. Here is a quote and a link to the rest of the sermon:

      "But there's a fifth kind of wrath. Not only eschatological wrath and eternal wrath and cataclysmic wrath and sowing and reaping wrath, but there's the wrath of abandonment. And this is another category of God's wrath. Separate from the others."

      There's this one too, "When God Abandons a Nation"

      I would make a case that the Hosea situation is less an abandonment than something else. In the case of Hosea's day, God actively worked as Israel's enemy. In the case of Romans1 when God turns a nation over, it is more passive, Him allowing sin to take its course. But I certainly don't know for sure and I don't think there is one answer.

    2. There's this one too, "When God Abandons a Nation"

      Good sermon!


  2. Regarding the United States, another possibility is that we are now in the period of the third beast of Daniel 7 - the 4 winged and 4 headed leopard.

    Consider this:

    In the late 1400s the four winds / evil spirits started to blow.

    First the Portuguese, then the Spanish tried to explore the world, but it was Henry VIII daughter Elizabeth who consolidated the base of the truly global empire. The British became stronger, and stronger until 1805, codified with the Congress of Vienna in 1815, where they unquestionably controlled the world in "Pax Britanica." The lion beast with eagle's wings, the wings signifying the global reach and majestic nature.

    The great war of 1914 ended the British global dominance, and it lost its eagle's wings. In 1917, Lenin started a four year civil war and created the USSR. Stalin, a monstrous man and probably the second most evil person ever to live, in June, 1941 suddenly realized that although his professors at seminary school may not have believed in all the "Jesus and God stuff" that they taught, it was true and now it was up to him to stop the one man more wretched than himself. For ten days he disappeared during the opening days of the war, when he reappeared he gave two orders: 1) to open the churches and seminaries again - they would not be closed in his lifetime 2) close the factories to ship the gun making tools to the East. Stalin obeyed the command of ?God? and the Soviet Union ate its fill of Nazis, and captured the three Baltic States of Europe. For the next half century the USSR ruled half the world. And the mighty Russians had fatally wounded the great beast in its first incarnation.

    Then, in 1991, GHWB declared "The New World Order" on September 11, 1991. This NWO was not a globalist controlled system as conspiracy sites claim, but rather the rule of the world by the United States. And this is exactly what happened...until 2008 briefly, when Putin ordered 1200 US special forces out of Georgia... and more fully in 2014, again when Putin caused the US trouble. The USA global hegemony appeared to last for 23 years - four wings of the leopard - quick takeover like Alexander the great.

    And now, the final beast. In the next few years Europe will be forced to rearm to deal with Russia. Probably NATO will be "retooled" to have fewer members and a more obvious swastika logo. And then the next Hitler, the horn that seamed dead but was now alive, maybe of Germany proper who will head the next version of NATO, will rise with the full support of the weakened but still powerful USA and drone attack anyone who dares not worship the beast.

  3. Thanks for sharing. I thought the moths around Raffles Place was rather unusual,
    Moths could be a symbol of a coming recession.

    Matthew 6:19
    “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal

    James 5:2
    Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.


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