Obadiah

 

Read Obadiah 1:1-2 – Introduction

 

            As with Habakkuk we know nothing about the personal life or origin of Obadiah.  His subject is that Edom was exalted over Judah in the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.  Some believe that it is a predictive prophecy, and therefore written before that date; others consider the book of Obadiah as a description of what has already happened to Edom so the written after 586 B.C.  We’ll leave that contention to the scholars and deal with that which “is written”.

            The nation of Edom was the offspring and descendants of Esau, twin brother to Jacob or Israel.  That they were at odds for much of their history in quite logical because they even struggled in the womb (Genesis 25:22).  It appears that Edom ceased to exist as a nation but as a people they were not destroyed completely.  Herod the Great who ruled as a vassal of Rome at the birth of Jesus and his descendants who were still in power at the trial of Paul were, at least partially, of Edomite ancestry.

 

v.1  THE VISION OF OBADIAH.  THUS SAITH THE LORD GOD CONCERNING EDOM; WE HAVE HEARD A RUMOUR [tidings] FROM THE LORD, AND AN AMBASSADOR IS SENT AMONG THE HEATHEN, ARISE YE, AND LET US RISE UP AGAINST HER IN BATTLE.”

 

            “THUS SAITH THE LORD”; even though this is the shortest book in the Old Testament, it is still the Word of God, given by God because:

 

II Peter 1:20-21Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

 

            The subject of this writing is identified as Edom.  Throughout the history of Israel, Edom had either marched against her or joined in with Moab, Ammon and others to cause Israel trouble.  We know that even during the lives of Esau and Jacob that Rebecca favored Jacob and Isaac favored Esau, a situation that caused friction and trouble in the family.  This situation ultimately led to the deception of Isaac and the giving of the blessing of the firstborn to Jacob.

            In other translations the “RUMOUR” from God is translated “tidings” or “report”.  This in effect reinforces the fact that the book of Obadiah is inspired, that it came from God.  The prophet is speaking as an ambassador of God just as Paul did in:

 

II Corinthians 5:20Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.”

 

Ambassadors are appointed directly and specifically by a ruler to serve his interests.  We are not ambassadors today even though we have been commissioned generically to preach and teach the Word of God because we do not have the same authority to speak as did the prophets and apostles.

 

v.2  BEHOLD, I HAVE MADE THEE SMALL AMONG THE HEATHEN: THOU ARE GREATLY DESPISED.’

 

            Obadiah says that Edom has been made small, Joel tell us that as a nation they will be “Made desolate”

 

Joel 3:19Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land.”

 

Read Obadiah 1:3-16Edom’s Sins

 

v.3  THE PRIDE OF THINE HEART HATH DECEIVED THEE, THOU THAT DWELLEST IN THE CLEFTS OF THE ROCK, WHOSE HABITATION is HIGH; THAT SAITH IN HIS HEART, WHO SHALL BRING ME DOWN TO THE GROUND?”

 

            One of the greatest deceivers of man is his pride and Edom is no exception.  We should be very familiar with these words concerning pride:

 

Proverbs 16:18 “PRIDE goeth BEFORE DESTRUCTION, AND AN HAUGHTY SPIRIT BEFORE A FALL.”

 

Proverbs 29:23 “A MAN’S PRIDE SHALL BRING HIM LOW…”

 

            Just as Nebuchadnezzar was humbled because he trusted in his own ability and that of his armies, Edom is guilty of placing their faith, not in God, but in the protection provided by the rough, mountainous and very rocky region in which they lived.  It is the location of Petra, a series of great buildings and other monuments that are carved into the stone of the mountains.  It also is the general location of the fortress of Masada.

 

v.4 “THOUGH THOU EXALT thyself AS THE EAGLE, AND THOUGH THOU GET THY NEST AMONG THE STARS THENCE WILL I BRING THEE DOWN, SAITH THE LORD.”

 

            As we noted in our study of Habakkuk, it doesn’t matter how high we think of ourselves, it doesn’t matter how high we become either as people or as a nation in the eyes of men, God can and will bring us down.  Even though Edom is sequestered in the mountains of Seir God can and will bring them down as well.  Jeremiah wrote virtually the same words concerning her near neighbor Ammon:

 

Jeremiah 49:16Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, and the pride of thine heart, O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that holdest the height of the hill: though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle, I will bring thee down from thence, saith the LORD.”

 

v.5  IF THIEVES CAME TO THEE, IF ROBBERS BY NIGHT, (HOW ART THOU CUT OFF) WOULD THEY NOT HAVE STOLEN TILL THEY HAD ENOUGH?  IF THE GRAPEGATHERS CAME TO THEE, WOULD THEY NOT LEAVE some GRAPES?”

 

            Under the Mosaic Law when fields, vineyards and groves were harvested there was to be some left for the poor that they might glean enough to eat.  When we first started going to the Rio Grande Valley they did this in the carrot fields and probably in others as well.  But the destruction of Edom will be such that not even that little bit will be left:

 

Jeremiah 49:9If grapegatherers come to thee, would they not leave some gleaning grapes? if thieves by night, they will destroy till they have enough.”

 

v.6How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up!”

 

            Even the hidden things of Esau will be sought out.  Can we hide anything from God?  In Elihu’s speech before Job and his friends he makes this observation:

 

Job 34:21-22For his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings.  22There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves.

 

v.7All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border: the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee; they that eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee: there is none understanding in him.”

 

            Edom had allied herself with the wrong people.  They had established a confederacy with Moab and Ammon; nations that God will destroy as well because of their wickedness and their treatment of Israel.  This was part of the reason that God gave the Israelite nation instruction to not ally themselves with their pagan neighbors:

 

Exodus 23:31-32And I will set thy bounds from the Red sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the river: for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; and thou shalt drive them out before thee.

 32Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods.”

 

When Israel came to occupy the land promised to them by God they would be tempted to make covenants with the wicked and corrupt people who lived there and become just as bad as they were.  So they were commanded:

 

And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:” Deuteronomy 7:2

 

v.8Shall I not in that day, saith the LORD, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau?”

 

            God is not only going to destroy Edom he will take away those who might be able, through their wisdom, prevent their destruction, guide them through this peril, reducing the cost.  They will suffer as did the city of David:

 

Isaiah 29:14Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.”

 

Under the old law, the wise men, those who were filled with the wisdom of God would perish and not be replaced.  In time the wisdom of the prudent would be hid.  Even today all it takes is one generation for the church to go into apostasy.  Under the new law, God says he will send those who do not love the truth a “Strong Delusion” that they all “MIGHT BE DAMNED WHO BELIEVED NOT THE TRUTH.

 

II Thessalonians 2:10-12And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.  11And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:  12That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

 

v.9And thy mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter.”

 

            The mighty men of Edom, their warriors would be “DISMAYED”.  What does they would be dismayed mean?  The last word of the verse tells us.  Their courage will fail them and they will be slaughtered.  As Amos wrote:

 

Amos 2:16And he that is courageous among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day, saith the LORD.”

 

Teman was a grandson of Esau and one of the rulers of one tribe or group of Edomites.

 

v.10 “For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.”

 

            This prophecy is repeated in Ezekiel:

 

Ezekiel 25:12-14Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because that Edom hath dealt against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and hath greatly offended, and revenged himself upon them;  13Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I will also stretch out mine hand upon Edom, and will cut off man and beast from it; and I will make it desolate from Teman; and they of Dedan shall fall by the sword.  14And I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people Israel: and they shall do in Edom according to mine anger and according to my fury; and they shall know my vengeance, saith the Lord GOD.”

 

Edom had been one of those nations whom God used to punish Israel and later Judah:

 

Amos 1:11Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he did pursue his brother with the sword, and did cast off all pity, and his anger did tear perpetually, and he kept his wrath for ever:”

 

v.11  In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them.”

 

            One of the charges brought against Edom was that when Chaldea came against Jerusalem the last time, destroyed her and carried the last of the captives off to Babylon; Edom came against Judah as well.  She apparently came as a scavenger, taking advantage of the distress of her cousins, cousins because they all descended from Isaac.  When we look back at the prophecy of Amos, we can see the role that Edom played in an earlier time.  In the prophecy concerning the destruction of Philistia we find:

 

Amos 1:6Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they carried away captive the whole captivity, to deliver them up to Edom:”

 

Amos 1:9Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Tyrus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they delivered up the whole captivity to Edom, and remembered not the brotherly covenant:”

 

In both of these cases we know that Assyria was the one that actually took these cities but the prophet says they were delivered up to Edom.  Consequently we can see that while they were not strong enough to overtake these cities or Jerusalem by themselves they took advantage of their trouble.  They followed the armies of the real conquerors like hyenas following a pride of lions, living off what they leave.

 

v.12But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress.”

 

            The transgressions of Edom listed in this verse three in number: 1) they looked on their brother as a stranger in his time of trouble; 2) they rejoice when Judah was destroyed; 3) they spoke proudly, probably boasting that since Esau had lost the firstborn’s inheritance to Israel (Jacob) they were finally getting what his descendants deserved.  The prophet Ezekiel calls these boastings blasphemies:

 

Ezekiel 35:12-14And thou shalt know that I am the LORD, and that I have heard all thy blasphemies which thou hast spoken against the mountains of Israel, saying, They are laid desolate, they are given us to consume.  13Thus with your mouth ye have boasted against me, and have multiplied your words against me: I have heard them.  14Thus saith the Lord GOD; When the whole earth rejoiceth, I will make thee desolate.”

 

v.13Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity;”

 

            As is common among men when calamity strikes there are always some that will take advantage of what they see as opportunity.  The pictures of the looters, scavengers and outright thieves that we saw during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is but one example of many.  But Edom went beyond that as we see in Ezekiel’s writing:

 

Ezekiel 35:5 “Because thou hast had a perpetual hatred, and hast shed the blood of the children of Israel by the force of the sword in the time of their calamity, in the time that their iniquity had an end:”

 

At the time that the children of Israel, Judah specifically, were completely down, suffering from God’s punishment at the hands of the Chaldeans, Edom came upon them in hatred.  They entered the fray, even though it was not God’s will, simply to satisfy their own vengeance.

 

v.14Neither shouldest thou have stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his that did escape; neither shouldest thou have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress.”

 

            The specific act that the men of Edom carried out against Judah was to cut off the avenue of their escape from the Chaldeans.  They kept at least some of them from fleeing the wrath of armies of Chaldea and the wrath of God; but their help was neither needed nor wanted by the Almighty.  They simply came and took advantage of a situation to exact their vengeance.

 

v.15For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.”

 

            “AS THOU HAST DONE, IT SHALL BE DONE TO THEE”, wise words of warning to anyone.  What was it that Jesus said concerning judgment?

 

Matthew 7:1-2Judge not, that ye be not judged.  2For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”

 

We apply this scripture to matters of judgment or matters where we might find fault with someone and this is the application that Jesus makes as he continues and talks about the beam in our eye vs the mote in our brother’s eye.  But at the same time we can apply this same concept to the situation with Edom.  Since they visited their hatred and wrath on Judah, unwanted and unbidden by God then God will visit them with hatred, wrath and destruction by others.

 

v.16For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been.

 

            Now the prophet makes a statement that condemns all who are heathen or pagan, enemies of God.  All will eventually endure the judgment of God Almighty just as Peter points out to us:

 

I Peter 4:17-18For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?  18And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

 

Judah, in their wicked and sinful ways, was judged by God, found wanting and punished for their transgressions.  Just as Peter points out in his epistle it is even more certain that the heathen who plagued the “HOUSE OF GOD” would be punished even more severely.

 

Read Obadiah 1:17-21 – The Salvation and Victory of Jacob

 

v.17But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.”

 

            The house of Esau will be destroyed but the house of Jacob will be delivered, they will continue.  Amos had written about 250 years before:

 

Amos 9:8Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the LORD.”

 

It must have been even harder judgment for Edom to bear to know that their nation would be destroyed and Judah would be preserved, that the house of Jacob would be restored.

 

v.18And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it.”

 

            The houses of Jacob and Joseph would be as fire and the house of Esau as a field of stubble.  Esau will be devoured, destroyed, nothing will remain.  While the Herodian kings, governors and rulers were Idumean or Edomite they were of mixed ancestry and were only half Edomite or less.  When God has spoken, man is powerless to prevent his word from bringing its proper fruit.

 

v.19 “And they of the south shall possess the mount of Esau; and they of the plain the Philistines: and they shall possess the fields of Ephraim, and the fields of Samaria: and Benjamin shall possess Gilead.”

 

            The mount of Esau, region called Seir, Mount Paran, the mountain of Edom will be taken over by “THEY OF THE SOUTH”.  Whether this refers to the Bedouin’s of the Arabian Desert, Ethiopians or Egyptians I don’t know but sufficient to say they Edom would be overtaken.  The plains of the Mediterrean Coast would be occupied again by Judah after the captivity:

 

Zephaniah 2:7And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah; they shall feed thereupon: in the houses of Ashkelon shall they lie down in the evening: for the LORD their God shall visit them, and turn away their captivity.”

 

In addition the fields of Ephraim were occupied by Judah, part of the southern plains of Samaria and Gilead, land east of the Jordan between Galilee and the Dead Sea.

 

v. 20And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; and the captivity of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the south.”

 

            Judah was destined by God to occupy the land all the way north to Zarephath.  Zarephath is a name more familiar to us here in NW Louisiana, because the English version is Sarepta.  This city was located between Tyre and Sidon near the Mediterrean coast.  Elijah lived with a widow there during a famine (I Kings17:9, 19).  Jerusalem is mentioned as being in Sepharad but that name is found only Obadiah.  Sepharad is the modern Hebrew word for Spain.

 

v.21And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD's.”

 

            “SAVOIURS” will come up on Mount Zion, Jerusalem, they will judge Esau and “THE KINGDOM” will be the Lord’s.  What kingdom might the prophet be writing about?  The kingdom of Christ, prophesied by Daniel:

 

Daniel 2:44And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”

 

The kingdom of Christ as confirmed to Mary:

 

Luke 1:31-33 “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.  32He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:  33And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”

 

William L. Schwegler, Sunset church of Christ, Shreveport, Louisiana; June 14, 2009