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Obadiah

June 17th, 2012 by Vic

Obadiah

June 17, 2012

“Don’t take advantage of another’s calamity”

 

Obadiah announces the doom of the nation of Edom.  Edom had taken advantage of Israel’s calamity.  Edom was a nation lying just south of the Dead Sea.  When Jerusalem and Israel were captured by the Babylonians the people from Edom went and looted the city.  God was not happy.

 

Edom was settled by descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother.  Jacob and Esau were twins and Esau was the elder, but Jacob tricked him out of his father’s blessing.  During their lives, both brothers received other names; Esau was also known as ‘Edom’ (Gn. 36:1, 9) and Jacob as ‘Israel’ (Gn. 32:22–32).  The animosity between these two brothers continued between the two nations that they became.

 

When the Israelites left Egypt under Moses, the Edomites denied Israel passage through their lands (cf. Num. 20:14–20).  Moses avoided fighting with the army of these distant kinsmen, and took a lengthy route around their nation.  400 years later King David subjected the Edomites under his rule.  There continued to be constant warfare between them until Edom was defeated 600 years later by the Babylonians (5 years after Obadiah wrote this book).  Herod the Great was a descendant of Edom, known also as Idumea.

Obadiah is the shortest book in our Old Testament.  It provides little information about the author.   The name means ‘servant of Yahweh’ or ‘worshipper of Yahweh’.  There are 13 Obadiah’s mentioned in the OT.

 

The capital of Edom was Sela, or Petra which means rock.  This city was literally carved into rock, and could be entered only by a narrow canyon easy to defend.  The city’s supposedly impregnable location led both to pride and to contempt for Israel.  Because of its security this was the banking center of many nations.  The 2 other major cities of Edom were Bozrah and Teman.  Bozrah was the fashion capital at that time and Teman was the philosophy or intellectual center.  It was the Berkley or Reed College of that day.

 

The most likely time of writing this prophecy is shortly after the fall and destruction of Jerusalem in 587 bc.  This is the clearest event in which Israel was defeated and looted (2 Ki. 25; 2 Ch. 36:17–21) and the Edomites were aiding and abetting the Babylonian conquerors.  There are some parallels between Obadiah and Jeremiah 49.  The message is clear.  Never take advantage of another’s calamity.  God will send armies to defeat you if you take advantage of another’s calamity.  Obadiah predicts the doom of Edom and hope for God’s faithful children.  It does not always look like it in the present situation, but God says the righteous who have been oppressed will be preserved and exalted.  The reward for God’s people is abundant life.

 

1-2  “The vision (revelation) of Obadiah (worshipper of God).”  God is calling the nations to attack Edom.  God speaks to and controls all nations.  The message to Edom is that they are not as popular as they think they are.  They have alliances, but really no friends.

 

There are 7 sins of Edom listed in a rough chiastic pattern.  The 1st and 7th sins are similar.  The 2nd and 6th are similar.  The 3rd and 5th are similar and the 4th is the focus or main point.

 

3-6  1st God announces the arrogance of your heart has deceived you.  Petra or Sela mean rock.  It was the name of their capital city.  They think they are invincible and secure.  They are proud like an eagle.  But when God fights against them it will be worse than thieves, robbers, and normal conquerors.  Nothing will be left behind.  Most conquerors only take what they can carry.  God is planning something worse.

 

7-9  2nd your alliances with other wicked nations will not be honored.  They will turn against you.  You will be deceived, broken and slaughtered.  Your wise philosophers in Teman will be terrified and dismayed.  They don’t see what’s coming.  Their thinking is distorted because they do not begin with a trust in God.

 

10  3rd Because of violence and hatred toward your brother you will be destroyed forever.  It is dangerous to criticize and harass God’s children.  God promised Abraham that “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”  This promise was given to a righteous man before there was ever a Jewish nation.  The principle is valid for all God’s children.

 

11-12 4th You rejoiced over your brother’s destruction and distress.  God will hold those accountable who rejoiced at the bombing of the Twin Towers.  This is an attitude that God hates.  Never take advantage or rejoice at another’s calamity.

 

That is one of the first principles I remember learning from my dad.  We lived on the SE corner at the Liberal intersection.  A car pulled off the road on the north side our home with a flat tire.  Dad had a shop in the barn with the equipment to repair flats.  I remember the smell of those patches that he put on inner tubes by lighting a fire to melt it on.  Dad fixed the tire and the fellow offered to pay him, but dad said, “I’ll never take advantage of another person’s calamity.”  God will bless that kind of attitude.  God is not happy with those who rip people off after a disaster.  Those who rob homes during family funerals and those who offer false promises after a tornado do not make God happy.

Profiteering will bring God’s wrath.  There are some things that God hates (Prov 6:16).  “And when he humbled himself, the wrath of the LORD turned from him, that he would not destroy him altogether: and also in Judah things went well” (2 Chron 12:12).  God fights against the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).  It is not smart to be proud.

13  5th Don’t loot your brother’s home after a disaster.  Don’t move in like vultures to pick up leftovers.  Edom plundered and profited greatly after Babylon took Judah captive.  They were looting Jerusalem and the unprotected villages.

 

14  6th Don’t help the sinful enemy round up the fugitives.  Don’t sell your brothers as slaves.

 

15-16 7th You celebrated Judah’s defeat in the rubble of Jerusalem by drinking and toasting their defeat.  “As you have done, it will be done to you.  The standard you used to judge your brother will be the standard God uses to judge you.  Jesus said judge not (Matthew 7:1-2).

 

The Day of the Lord is coming to intervene righteously.  Good and evil will be redefined by God’s definition.  The punishment will fit the crime precisely.  The opportunistic cheater will be punished by God appropriately.

 

17  There is hope, deliverance, and holiness for those living in the presence of God.  When sinners are removed from Jerusalem it will be holy.  When we repent of our sin and God cleanses our hearts, we will be holy.  We will again see God working in our lives and know that His kingdom has come.  Jesus is on the throne and He rules in the hearts of those who follow in His steps.  There is a sanctuary for those who have escaped the arrogance and sin of this world.

 

18  God will use His united people to be salt and light in a dirty and dark world.  Their enemies will be destroyed completely like stubble in the fire.  Edom was captured by Nebuchadnezzar 5 years after the fall of Jerusalem and the nation of Edom was completely destroyed by the Maccabees around 160 b.c.  Then 200 years later the power of sin and satan were completely broken by the resurrection and ascension of Jesus.

 

19-21  God promises the restoration and repossession of the land as it was in David’s kingdom.  The mountains of Esau represent the world that opposes God.  Mount Zion represents the kingdom of God.  The wicked will be paper tigers.  The people who stand with God will possess the kingdom of God.  God promises a new kingdom.  What Luke’s gospel conveys by Jesus’ references to the kingdom is applied to the church in Acts.

 

Edom is the arch enemy of Israel in the OT.  It represents all hostile nations.  Because they opposed the people who feared God, they are destroyed.  Because they rejoiced over the calamity of others they were destroyed.

 

God has not changed.  He still intervenes on behalf of His humble people who suffer from the sin in this world.  He still promises a future for the faithful (1 Pet 4:12-14).  The ultimate victory of God’s people is assured.  God said it.

 

The big lesson from Obadiah is clear.  Don’t take advantage of another’s calamity.  They had sinned in many ways, but this was the last straw.

 

God has not changed.  God hates sin.  God hates the proud and those who live in luxury at the expense of the poor.  God’s judgment is not always immediate.  He does not want to destroy nations.  He wants them to return to Him and worship Him.  He has warned us.  If nations repent and turn to God, He will relent as He did in the story of Jonah.  If a nation does not repent they will be punished and destroyed as Edom was.  When the nation is punished, the righteous in that nation also suffer.  God has promised a future restoration for the righteous.  The future blessing is maybe for us, maybe for our children, but ultimately a new heaven and new earth where righteousness is at home.  If you are God’s child, He cares for you.  He has prepared a place for you.  Give thanks.

 

 

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