Pausing before reading II Kings to read this minor prophet, based on the Blue Letter Bible chronological reading plan.
The Ryrie Study Bible footnote reminds us that there are 12 men named Obadiah in the Old Testament. We know nothing about this one except that his name means "Servant of God". The NIV bible also notes that it means "servant of God"; but Wiersbe translates it as "on who worships God."
Verse 1 introduces the vision of Obadiah and makes it clear it is "Thus says the Lord God..."
The vision is regarding Edom.
Just as a refresher: Edom is the people who descended from Esau, Jacob's brother. At the end of their lives they had settled into détente, at peace; but not friendly. Esau left to find new grazing land for his animals.
Later, when Israel was on their way to the Promise Land they asked for help while passing through Edom and were denied. God forbid them to destroy their "brothers".
Back to verse 1. It sounds like a large group of nations have risen against Edom, prompted by the Lord.
In verse 2, God states that He will make them small among nations. They are greatly despised.
He states that they are arrogant and associates their pride with living high in the mountain walls and feeling safe. But God lets them know that He will bring them down.
In verses 2-9, God lays out exactly how He will destroy Edom. Wiersbe probes each of these a bit and I have included his ideas below each of my own summaries. For verse 2, he explains this a little bit further by describing the high mountain walls and deep valleys that made Edom feel like an eagle- no one could get to her. But God can. Whatever we have pride in, God can dissolve like vapor. Our trust is to only be in Him.
Verse 5 and 6 declares that, like a house being robbed and a vineyard being gathered; everything, including hidden treasures will be stripped in the coming devastation. (This makes me think that this book does belong in the later period because the Edomites were slaughtered near Judah in the Jehoshaphat passage. However it took three days to carry off all of the spoils of war; so they might have, basically, ribbed themselves and carried it to Judah for them.)
Wiersbe notes that they had treasure because of their mountains. they were able to mine coper and such. And so, like the mountains, they thought that God's general provision was theirs to boast and trust in.
Verse 7 promises that even their allies and peaceable neighbors will turn on them.
Wiersbe also points to their allies as a boast of the Edomites that God will actually use against them.
Verse 8, states that God, personally, will destroy wise men and even understanding itself!
Wiersbe explains this a little more by pointing out that people of the east were considered wise; and this included Edom. This came from their location in the trade routes which would bring news and such from around the trade region. This gave them insight in making their decisions. Without it they would be blind and confused.
Verse 9 assures that even the mighty men will be dismayed and everyone will be slaughtered.
Beginning in verse 10, Obadiah states the reasons for this prophesy and outcome:
- Verse 10: Because of violence to your brother Jacob. (This makes sense, in that God told Israel to leave them alone as they passed through; it stands to reason that He warned Edom to leave Israel alone.)
- Verse 11: Edom remained aloof and even acted as one of them who carried off the wealth of Jerusalem and foreigners casted lots for her. (This seem to be one of the excepts that causes some people to place this book later in the timeline- when Jerusalem was sacked for good and the people were taken into captivity. However, there were other time when the wealth of Jerusalem was hauled off earlier, such as when Rehoboam lost all of Solomon's wealth to Baasha.)
- Verse 12: Boasting in the destress of the people of Judah.
- Verse 13: It sounds like Edomites went in while Jerusalem was already defeated and pillaged further.
- Verse 14: It seems like Edomites blocked the road and prevented those trying to escape the disaster in Jerusalem.
All of those reasons make me think I am reading this in line with the wrong attack on Judah. I'll have to cirlce back and read it again later.
One think these reasons bring to mind, though, is that the Lord was the cause of Jerusalem's sack. Or at least He allowed it as the natural consequences of their choices. However, just because He allowed their punishment, He did not condone and even despised unto their doom, Edom jumping in and adding their own selfish actions. Like a father who spanks a son to teach him a lesson wouldn't abide an older brother jumping in and beating the son as a personal add-on, the Lord didn't accept Edom doing evil when the Lord had a measured punishment planned.
I guess what I'm trying to frame and remember for myself...don't take the calamity of people you do not like to be permission to further attack them. Vengeance is the Lord's and we don't know his mind or what He is accomplishing in what we see.
In verse 15, the author states that the day of the Lord draws near for all nations. And what you have done will be returned to you.
Verse 16 states that Edom may have drank from God's Holy Mountain, but when the nations "drink" from Edom, they will be swallowed as if they never existed.
Eventually, in the fullness of time, the house of Jacob (via Joseph) will burn down the house of Esau and none will remain, "f...for the Lord has spoken." The Ryrie footnote says there is no survivor today of the house of Esau.
And verses 19-21 describe a future when the whole region, including the mountains, plains, Ephraim/ Samaria, across the Jordan River, and up the coast to the Phoenician territories. At this time, those who deliver the Jews from this disaster will ascend Mt Zion to judge "the mountain of Esau", and "...the kingdom will be the Lord's."
Wiersbe states that the Jewish tradition places this book at the 586 bc Babylonian invasion. I do see that many of the verses don't match the Edomites coming to Jerusalem; but the author was speaking for the Lord; so maybe the vents crossed over multiple time periods.
The last interesting note from Wiersbe on this book is when the Lord's Kingdom is established as described in the last few verses. He points out their will be deliverers, or saviors, who rule under the Lord. Wiersbe cross-references this with what God says to the disciples about their role in the kingdom.
I have not even begun to learn about what we know about the time of Christ's kingdom. I hope I can take time sometime to do a really deep dive. I assume that will be when I get to the New Testament, God willing. But it does strike my curiosity about what we'll be doing and how that looks. I don't usually have much curiosity around that topic; but that caught my attention.
Oh, and it sounds like Moab and Edom reconstitute in the end, just as Israel will be remade in a day. That's also a fascinating tid bit...
In practical terms, I guess I'm sort of leaning towards the conclusion that I read this out of order. Blue Letter Bible has it here during the story of Jehoshaphat and the Edomites, and while that might be; I do see why some people think the evidence places it with the Babylonian invasion and captivity.
But it is God's Holy Word and I believe there are always lessons and instructions in it, no matter the timing.
I think the we'd all be wise to really let the following seep deeply into our bones and live accordingly:
- Vengeance belongs to the Lord. He will repay those who do evil, particularly those who do evil to His people.
- Having said that, your enemies may or may not be God's enemies. Someone you hate (you shouldn't hate, either-bonus lesson) and have hated a long time, and maybe were even taught to hate by the generations before you, DOES NOT mean that God hates them. You don't get to decide you are God's vengeance.
- When God is disciplining someone or some people, that is not permission or your cue to pile on.
- No one and no nation is stronger than God. Your pride will be your undoing because you stop trusting in Him and you stop fearing His law.
All of those lessons are magnified exponentially as Christians under the New Covenant, the New testament. We are proactively commanded to summarize the law as Loving the Lord with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength; and our neighbor as ourselves. There is no room for grudges, hate, gleeful of others suffering. there's just no room for it in our summarized "law" we are commanded to.