Friday, August 29, 2014

Reading Through Obadiah

obadiah chartObadiah is a prophecy of judgment against the nation of Edom. This seems like a big “so what” until one considers that “Edom” here functions as representative of the fate of all enemies of God’s people and God’s plan for the world. That is, Edom's total destruction because of their pride and mistreatment of Israel is a picture of how God will judge all the nations. As Edom took advantage of Israel when they were in trouble, so Edom would find no help or rescue when they are in trouble. The driving principle here is that your attitude toward God and His authority will come out in your treatment of His people and will form the basis of His judgment. “As you do to others it will be done to you. It is impossible to love God and hate the people He created.

Quotes below are from the New American Commentary, Obadiah by Billy Smith.

Edom represents the enemy of God’s people in all generations, as well as perpetual world power over against God. The ultimate destiny of such enemies is destruction. God is unalterably opposed to such enemies. No mountain is high enough, no fortress is strong enough, no military force is large enough, and no hiding place is dark enough to secure such an enemy from the judgment of God. Obadiah 10, 190.

Edom’s major sin was pride. They believed that they did not need to live in dependence on God and this came out in behavior that took advantage of others, especially God’s people.

Edom did not lift one finger to help. Their behavior showed that they were on the side of their brother’s enemies. Refusing to come to the aid of someone in need is the same as rendering the harm yourself. Obadiah 11, 192.

It is not enough just to live without hurting your fellow human beings. We also have an obligation to help them when they are in need. For believers this is especially true of helping God’s people. Note that Jesus judgment of the nations is “whatever you did to the least of these, you did to me.”

What Edom did to others would be done to them (v. 15). They too would be “destroyed” (v. 10, the same verb as the one here translated “cut down”). Edom deserved the judgment of God because of their deplorable attitudes and actions toward their brothers, who were in addition God’s people. Obadiah 14, 194.

God’s people may suffer temporary defeat for their sins, but God will intervene to rescue them, to judge his enemies, and to establish his kingdom. In the end God’s kingdom will come, and he will reign over all peoples of the earth. Obadiah 21, 201.

As the people of Judah went into exile in Babylon it appeared that the wrong people were being punished. Edom took advantage of Judah’s defeat to enrich themselves. But judgment came for Edom as Nebuchadnezzar came back for them a few years later and within a couple hundred years they ceased to exist as a nation. Meanwhile, God restored Judah to its homeland and His people will reign with him in His eternal kingdom. Short-term injustice seems to reign but it will be set right.

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