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Obadiah 14, 1013, 15comment (0)

June 7, 2007

By Jay T. Robertson

Related Scripture: Obadiah 14, 1013, 15

Explore the Bible
Assistant Professor, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile

Obadiah 1–4, 10–13, 15

In this brief prophecy, Obadiah prophesied God’s judgment on the people of Edom, the people who lived just southeast of Judah.

Trust the Lord’s Power (1–4)
The Lord declared that Edom would be humbled, plundered and devastated in battle by the nations. Edom is an alternative name of Esau, Jacob’s brother (Gen. 36:1). It also denotes the descendants of Esau (Gen. 36:9). The revelation Obadiah received began with a message he overheard the Lord sending to the nations surrounding Edom. The message was entrusted to an envoy. It consisted of a divine call for the nations to join Him in the judgment of Edom for that nation’s behavior against Judah.

With the first-person plural “we,” Obadiah identified himself with the congregation in the circumstances faced after the fall of Jerusalem or with fellow prophets who had also heard the call to battle against Edom. The “envoy has been sent,” indicated to the suffering community of Judah that the work of the “envoy” was already underway and, therefore, God was at work. Already He had gone to the nations to rally support against Edom. The setting for Obadiah’s sermon may have been a gathering of God’s suffering people among the ruins of the temple in Jerusalem in 586 B.C.

Verse 2 begins Obadiah’s direct address to Edom. In these opening verses, the Lord Himself pledges to bring Edom down from its lofty perch. Of course, the message for Edom was for Judah’s ears. The people of Judah could rest assured that the Lord would execute His vengeance against their enemy. They can trust His power to accomplish His will.

Practice the Lord’s Compassion (10–13)
Verse 10 serves as a transition from a description of God’s judgment upon Edom to the citation of various wrongs Edom committed against Judah.

Edom’s cruel treatment of Judah most likely occurred during or just after Nebuchadnezzar’s siege and destruction of Jerusalem and Judah. For Edom to pounce on Judah after Babylon had flattened them and left them helpless was reprehensible. When Babylon had attacked Judah, Edom “stood aloof.”

Part of their violence was simply to comply with the violence of others. They acted like Babylon, an enemy, not like a brother. Edom did not lift one finger to help as the Babylonians killed the people of Judah and destroyed and pillaged Jerusalem. When the Babylonians had finished, the Edomites moved in to loot, to capture fugitives to sell as slaves and to kill those who fled from the destruction.

God leveled eight prohibitions at Edom in verses 12–14. Obadiah’s congregation would have applauded to hear its God call the Edomites to account for their treacherous actions. If Israel had wondered whether the Lord had noticed the wrongs they were suffering, Obadiah put an end to their feelings of abandonment.

These prohibitions reveal Edom’s attitude of superiority toward Judah. Edom was a small nation, but it was situated, like Switzerland, in an apparently impenetrable region of rocky heights and passes. And the people’s hearts were well symbolized by their geography — high and hard, certain and proud.

Rely on the Lord’s Justice (15)
The day of the Lord’s intervention will result in the destruction of all God and Israel’s enemies, represented by the nation of Edom, and the exaltation of God’s people, Israel. The day of the Lord will bring about two things. First, judgment will come on those who do not acknowledge God’s lordship over all creation and submit to Him in faith. Second, the kingdom of God will be established.

A day is coming in which all individuals of every nation will be accurately judged by Jesus Christ. Every individual will be judged on the basis of how he or she responded to God’s lordship in Jesus Christ. God declared that He would not temporarily destroy the Edomites as He temporarily sent the Israelites into exile. He would destroy them forever. God cares how His people are treated. God’s people can rely on the Lord’s justice.

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