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Judgement is pronounced.
Obadiah¡¦s oracle against Edom as sentenced by Yahweh Himself is severe and
without hope for future restoration of this people. Edom¡¦s crime and reason for judgement is explained by Obadiah in this sense, ¡§you stood by on the day of your brother¡¦s captivity; and rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction .¡¨ Edom has displeased God by their consistent violence and hatred for their brother Jacob. Now Yahweh¡¦s judgement is passed, and there is no hope of restoration. This seems very contrary to the promise God gave Abraham in Genesis 17:7-9. Would God destroy the entire Edomite people from the face of the earth?
The Bible portrays the Edomites as descendants of Esau (Gen 36:1,9). They occupied the land of Edom also called Seir (Gen 32:3; 36:20-21, 30: Num 24:18). Through it passed two major traffic routes, the King¡¦s Highway and the road along the Arabah. After the Exodus, Israel was denied passage through Edom via these major routes. Shortly thereafter the Edomites, in confederation with the Moabites and Ammonites, raided Judah during Jehoshaphat¡¦s reign (2 Chr 20:1-2). For these actions, as well as others Edom finds itself at the words of Obadiah as he prophesies their judgement.
Although Obadiah is not related to as a ¡§prophet¡¨ of God (Obad 1:1) his purpose is clearly established as God¡¦s mouth piece against Edom, and later confirmed by his contemporary, Jeremiah (Jer 49:7-22). Obadiah¡¦s name means ¡¥servant/worshipper of Yahweh¡¦. Thus giving him the known title many of God¡¦s prophets operated under ¡¥servant¡¦. The fact also that there is no mention of a father for God¡¦s servant is interesting, in a time where most prophets were identified either by a notice of the period in which they prophesied, their hometown (or at least where the prophecies took place), and their father, or any combination of these leaves little for one to pin point Obadiah¡¦s time.
A suggested date for Obadiah¡¦s prophecy is shortly after the fall of Jerusalem in 587BC, when refugees were captured. Although Edom is not explicitly linked with Jerusalem¡¦s downfall biblically, its satisfaction at the outcome would have matched that of other nations who had opposed Judah in the past.
¡§If thieves had come to you, if robbers by night, oh how you will be cut off! Would they not have stolen till they had enough?¡¨ (Obad 1:5). Obadiah¡¦s words are clear and without dilution, God¡¦s intent and final sentence is released.
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Esau you will be searched out! How you¡¦re hidden treasures shall be sought after! This prophetic pronouncement of plunder and treachery is like none ever seen by the Edomites.
It has the same ramifications as a prize not only taken but also taken and it¡¦s owner destroyed!
Obadiah only hints upon Edom¡¦s fate in vss 1-5. Obadiah later goes on to express God¡¦s displeasure and direct judgement on the Edomites in vs. 7. I thought it noteworthy to point out that the words you and yours are used seven (7) times in verse 7.
This would to me indicate a direct offence and unmistakable identity of the Edomites.
Obadiah now begins the next phase of his theme to the Edomites as he prophesies the torture and destruction of Edom by those who were once trusted allies.
Obadiah¡¦s message in many ways could be directed towards not only Edom¡¦s unwillingness to help her brother in times of calamity, destruction, and captivity, but also at her pride. Obadiah exclaims in verse 3 ¡¥the pride of your heart has deceived you¡¦. Now one must understand the place of the Edomites, there homes where in the clefts of the rocks. They possessed some of the most sought after territory for trade embargo and commerce passage, and were allies with a number of reputable armies. I can¡¦t help but to stop here and pose the thought, ¡¥why would God use this illustration with this people in this way¡¦? Micah 6:8 says ¡§He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God¡¨?
¡§Though you exalt yourself as high as the eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down, says the Lord¡¨(Obad 1:4).
How easy it must have been for a nation destine from the womb to be lesser than, serve and even loved less (Gen 25:23), to one day find itself among some of the greatest of nations in number and land to become full of pride. This not only happened to the Edomites then, it also echo¡¦s the hearts of many of God¡¦s people even to this day. Once we were lost destitute and without hope until the coming of the Lord Jesus the Christ. Now we are a chosen people a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), yet Jeremiah says ¡§the harvest is past the summer is ended and we are still not saved!¡¨(Jer 8:20) God¡¦s heart still cries out for a sobering of consciousness for His people.
Obadiah¡¦s message continues in verse 8 ¡§will I not destroy the wise men from Edom and understanding from the mountains of Esau? Thus the next level of Edoms demise is noted. All of the wise men, nobles, governors, and pillars will be destroyed.
Obadiah continues ¡§then your mighty men O Teman (which is to denote the entire region)
Shall be dismayed that everyone from the mountains of Esau may be cut off¡¨ (Obad 1:9)
The very structures of society, in its elements of economic wellbeing, wise rule, and military security through armed force and international opposition will fall.
Obadiah then begins to speak on the more obvious reasons for Edom¡¦s judgement.
„h Edoms passive observation of pillage vss 10-11
„h Proud gloating in the day of captivity vs 12
„h Plunder in the day of calamity vs 13
„h Refusal of passage and betrayal to those who escaped captivity Vs 14
Edom¡¦s judgement is sealed; God¡¦s purpose for Obadiah at this junction is just about completed. He goes on to explain the day of the Lord, ¡§the day of the Lord upon all the nations is near; as you have done, it shall be done to you; your reprisal shall return upon your own head¡¨ (Obad 1:15). Here the tables are turned; Edom is now the recipient of all she has given in the past. From here on Jerusalem is seemingly seen or referred to in the masculine sense, ¡§the house of Jacob shall be a fire, the house Joseph a flame; but the house of Esau shall be like stubble¡¨; (Obad 1:18).
¡§And no survivor shall remain of the house of Esau, for the Lord has spoken.¡¨
For the Lord has spoken! The climax of Obadiah¡¦s prophetic announcement is near.
Judgement is pronounced! Yet the full purpose of Obadiah¡¦s meaning and purpose would be missed if we were to not see the future restoration of Judah.
¡§The inhabitants of the south shall possess the mountains of Esau, and the inhabitants of the philistine lowland, they shall possess the fields of Ephraim, and the field of Samaria, Benjamin shall possess Gelead¡¨ (Obad 1:19).
The inhabitants of the south, points towards the Negev, the wilderness south of Beersheva. The grammatical role of the Negev people is unclear, however the house of Jacob occupied this territory in which case the incoming people would again be the Israelites . The promise of a restored people is also synonymous of the restored Kingdom of God. Judahs hope for restoration is given (Obad 1:20-21)
Not only will there be a repossession of territorial areas but also deliverers, or those who bring an expected future salvation will visit the capital, Jerusalem, which had been destroyed in 587Bc.
Yahweh has still kept His promise to His servant Abraham (Gen 17:7-9).
While a son was cut off, another was saved and restored.
Obadiah¡¦s oracle against Edom as sentenced by Yahweh Himself is severe and without hope for future restoration of this people. Edom¡¦s crime and reason for judgement is explained, penalty given, and sentence released, judgement is pronounced.
1. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. Inter-Varsity Press, 1988
2. The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Inter-Varsity Press, 1980
3. Peoples of Old Testament Times, Oxford University Press 1973