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Bible Commentaries
Obadiah 1

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verses 1-4

Oba 1:1-4

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE

CERTAINTY OF EDOM’S JUDGMENT

TEXT: Obadiah 1:1-4

In spite of invincible fortifications the Omnipotent God will defeat Edom making it despicable and obscure among the nations. God will use other heathen nations to serve His purpose with Edom.

Obadiah 1:1 THE VISION OF OBADIAH. The Hebrew and Greek words for vision all come from root words having to do with seeing. Through visions God revealed truth in a pictorial form. These visions came at various times (both day and night, Daniel 10:7; Acts 9:7; Acts 10:3; Genesis 46:2) and in various ways (asleep at night or awake in the day, in dreams or trances). In the O.T. false prophets feigned visions and were denounced by the true prophets of God (Jeremiah 14:14; Jeremiah 23:16; Ezekiel 13:7).

Zerr: Obadiah 1:1. The book of Obadiah is the shortest one in the Old Testament and is one of the minor prophets. There are two main subjects treated in the book; the denunciations against Edom and the return of Israel from the captivity. According to Obadiah 1:11 the book is to be dated about the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. Vision of Obadiah means that he was shown a picture of the doom of Edom. Humour means an authentic message from the Lord, not merely some floating speculation as the word usually denotes. An ambassador is a herald or messenger who is sent out from an authoritative source to deliver a decree. Such a messenger had been sent out among the nations concerning the land of Edom and Obadiah had heard about It. The gist of the rumour or message was that the nations were to rise up and be arrayed against the doomed people.

CONCERNING EDOM; see comments on Edom in Introduction and comments on Obadiah 1:3 below. What Obadiah writes concerning Edom is specifically claimed to be a divine revelation from Jehovah. God breathed forth this prophecy. Obadiah was the instrument—not the originator.

TIDINGS FROM JEHOVAH, . . . LET US RISE UP AGAINST HER IN BATTLE; The prophet uses the editorial “we” and includes himself among those who (the nation of the Jews) heard the prophetic “tidings.” These “tidings” of the protection of God by the overthrow of His enemy Edom were designed to be a consolation to the elect as well as a warning to Edom. In the consonantal text of the Hebrew Bible the word we know as Jehovah is written by four consonants YHWH. The ancient Jews held the name of God in such veneration and reverence they decided that the best way to avoid using the name with irreverence was not to use it at all. At least they determined never to fill in the correct vowels and give the word the correct pronunciation. Tradition says that the only occasion on which it was actually pronounced in those days was when the High Priest uttered it on his annual entry into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement. So the original pronunciation was forgotten among the Jews. The Masoretes (about 900 A.D.) probably attached to YHWH the vowel points of the word that was supposed to be pronounced in place of YHWH, Adonay. Due to the nature of the first consonant of Adonay (meaning Lord), the first “a” became an “e” so the name in the text then became YeHoWaH. The Jews knew that YeHoWaH was an artificial form and continued to pronounce the word Adonay, but during the Middle Ages some Gentile scholars in the Church began to treat the artificial form as a real name. Because the language of these scholars transcribed “Y” as “J” and “w” as “v” the name became JEHOVAH.

How did God send an “ambassador” among the Gentile nations commanding them to come against Edom? Probably this is only personifying the fact that God sent these nations His command in some invisible, mental form, into the hearts and minds of the heathen rulers. However, He could well have sent one of His angels or one of the angels who ministered to the different nations (cf. Daniel 10:13; Daniel 10:20). The main point of emphasis is that God does use heathen nations to serve His purpose (cf. Isaiah 10:5-19; Isaiah 44:28 to Isaiah 45:6; Jeremiah 51:20-23; 2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-11). God is even portrayed as the “general” over His army of locusts when He brings judgment upon Judah in the days of Joel (Joel 2:11). So God called forth the Babylonians and the Romans and others to reduce Edom to ultimate oblivion. For an extended discussion of God’s activity in the events of history see Special Study No. nine, page 93, entitled, “Prophetic Philosophy of History.”

Obadiah 1:2 MADE THESE SMALL; As was mentioned in the Introduction to this book, Nebuchadnezzar scattered the original Edomites and reduced them to a small, despised people who were forced to inhabit the barren, hostile desert of southern Palestine known as the Negeb. The Edomites soon ceased to exist. Their original homeland, southeast of the Dead Sea, in Mt. Seir came to be inhabited by Arabians later known as Nabataeans. For centuries now even the Nabataean civilization has perished from the earth and the territory of Petra (Edom) stands in complete desolation testifying to the certainty of God’s prophetic word. We shall have more to say of the history of this territory in the next two verses. The perfect tense is used in Obadiah 1:2 where the future is portrayed as taking place in the present. Keil and Delitzsch say, “The perfect . . . describes the resolution of Jehovah as one whose fulfillment is as certain as if it had already occurred.”

Zerr: Obadiah 1:2. Among the heathen might imply that Edom was not one of the heathen as he is said to be among them. However, the word is also rendered “nation" in many places and It is so used In this one. The original word means any group or nation of people regardless of what religion they profess. This verse means that the Edomites were doomed by the Lord to become one of the smaller nations and to be looked down upon.

Obadiah 1:3 PRIDE . . . HATH DECEIVED THEE; O THOU THAT DWELLEST IN THE CLEFTS OF THE ROCK; We present here a description of the “rock” (Petra) by George L. Robinson in “The Twelve Minor Prophets” pub. by Baker Book House, page 66–67:

“For situation and natural beauty Petra is unique among the cities of earth. To describe it adequately is well-nigh an impossibility. Its location, deep down among the mountains of Seir, surrounded on all sides with richly colored rocks of simply matchless beauty and grandeur, renders it a ‘wonder of the desert.’ One enters the wierd but attractive city enclosure by a narrow gorge, over a mile long, called the Sik, or cleft. This defile is one of the most magnificent and romantic avenues of its kind in all nature. A tiny stream flows under one’s feet much of the way. The chasm is both narrow and deep, often-times so contracted as to be almost dark at noonday. The rocks which bound it are tinted most beautifully with all the colors of the rainbow. On emerging from it into the great hollow basin, (which is over a mile long by two-thirds of a mile broad), the explorer is confronted by rock-hewn dwellings, tombs, temples, and other cuttings on every side. Several hundreds of these, most of them doubtless mausolea originally, still remain, all carved literally out of the solid sandstone rock. The ruins of a castle and of buildings and the arches of a bridge, and columns, still stand scattered over the bottom of the city’s site. The colors of the rocks add immensely to the attractiveness of the place. The deepest reds, purple, orange, yellow, white, violet, and other colors are arranged by nature in alternate bands, shading off artistically into one another, curving and twisting in gorgeous fantasies according to the infiltration of the oxides of iron, manganese, and other substances which so often produce in sandstone rocks color varieties of special beauty. The entire city and its environs are one immense maze of richly colored mountains and cliffs, chasms, rocky shelves and narrow valleys, gorges and plateaus, shady dells and sunny promontories, grand and beautiful; just the ideal of beauty and protection for a fortress of trade and commerce to satisfy an oriental nomad.”

THAT SAITH . . . WHO SHALL BRING ME DOWN TO THE GROUND?; Edom’s pride and boasting rested on her assumption of strategic impregnability. One explorer of the territory has stated that a handful of men stationed in the Sik could easily hold off a whole army of invaders. The solid stone cliffs were not only perpendicular, they furnished no niches for scaling them at any place. Her self-satisfied security also found credence in her position along the heavily traveled trade route of that time, Through its weird ravines passed camel caravans headed for Egypt and the Mediterranean where their goods were eventually shipped to Greece and Rome. Dromedarians from everywhere paid customs duties and tribute at the gates of Petra for the privilege of passage and protection. As a consequence the inhabitants of Petra assumed commanding importance on trade routes, its citizens were prosperous, its coffers bulging with gold and silver. Its wealth was reputed to be fabulous. Edom’s presumptuous boasting in her defenses and her wealth reminds us of many nations, both past and present, whose proud necks have been bowed by the Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe.

Verse: Obadiah 1:3, I shall make a quotation from an authentic work of reference concerning Edom: “Edom is emphatically a land of mountains. On the west, along the side of Arabah, is a line of tow limestone hills. Back of these rise higher, igneous bocks [emphasis mine, E. M. Z.J, surmounted by variegated sandstone, of peculiar color, 2,000 feet high. The eastern side of the mountain slopes gently away into the Arabian Desert. But., though rough, the land is rich, and the terraced hillsides have in ail ages been bright with vegetation, and its people have been prosperous . . . Mount Seir was first settled by the Horites, or Horim, like the inhabitants of Palestine a people of unknown origin. During the laler patriarchal age it was conquered and possessed by Esau, the brother of Jacob, and ever after occupied by his descendants, the Edomites . . . They joined the Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar in the destruction of Jerusalem, for which the later prophecies and Psalms gave them hitter denunciations . . . The Edomites, or Idumeans, south of Palestine, were conquered by the Maceabean princes and incorporated with the Jews, b, c, 130, and the Naba- thean kingdom was annexed to the Roman Empire, a. i>. 105."—Rand-Mc- Nally Bible Atlas, page 45. This quotation will explain the phrase clefts of the rock in this verse, and it also will show the fulfillment of predictions in the other verses about the downfall of the Edomites. The reader will therefore do well to take notice of its contents, for it will be referred lo again.

Obadiah 1:4 HIGH AS THE EAGLE . . . NEST . . . AMONG THE STARS; There are a number of references to the eagle as representing power, swiftness and invincibility (cf. Exodus 19:4; Deuteronomy 32:11; Psalms 103:5; Isaiah 40:31; Jeremiah 4:13; Daniel 7:4; Matthew 24:28). The hyperbolic figure of “setting one’s nest among the stars” is used by other prophets to express human pride (cf. Amos 9:2 ff and Isaiah 14:13 ff).

Zerr: Obadiah 1:4, The pride and self-exaltation of Edom is the subject of this verse. The Bord has no objection to a nation’s desire to be strong and selfsupporting. but He will not tolerate pride in either nations or individuals.

Questions

1. What is a “vision”?

2. What is the significance of God’s tidings for Israel?

3. Why was an “ambassador” sent among the “nations”?

4. How was Edom “made small” and “despised”?0.

5. Describe the “dwelling” place of Edom.

6. What, besides her dwelling place, probably gave Edom cause for pride?

Verses 5-9

Oba 1:5-9

THE EXTENT OF EDOM’S JUDGMENT

TEXT: Obadiah 1:5-9

Edom’s devastation will be absolutely complete! Her destruction will originate with the God of all the earth who will bring it about through His ministers—both the allies and enemies of Edom.

Obadiah 1:5 THIEVES . . . STEAL ONLY . . . ENOUGH? GRAPE-GATHERERS . . . LEAVE SOME? God, speaking through Obadiah, asks rhetorical questions (expecting “yes” answers), Actually these are interrogative declarations, The whole point is the contrast between what man would do to Edam and what God is going to do, If the plundering of Edom were designed and executed by men only there would be some “gleanings” left after the plundering. But it shall not be so when God’s plundering is finished! Nothing will be left. Isaiah prophesies, “. . . they shall name it, No Kingdom There.” (read in connection with Edom’s plundering, Isaiah 34:5-17; Jeremiah 49:17-22; Ezekiel 25:12-14; Malachi 1:1-5). Edom’s history, as long as she existed after this prophecy, was one long story of subjugation and plundering. Her glorious culture, one of the richest of the world then, was plundered by nation after nation. Her people were taken time after time and sold into slavery. The nation was driven from its homeland into the southern deserts of Palestine.

Zerr: Obadiah 1:5. Moffatt’s translation renders the words in parenthesis by, ""What a downfall is yours’” The thought is that the ruin predicted to be coming on Edom Will be so great and complete that even the Lord is caused to make an exclamation. It will be even more complete than the Work of thieves in looting a place. They would at least have stopped when they had what they wanted for them-selves, and hence there would have been some [margin says “gleaning.”] grapes left. But when the Lord gets through with the chastisement of Edom there will be nothing left. Obadiah 1:6. This verse is another prediction in the form of an exclamation, and corresponds with the thought of the preceding paragraph.

Obadiah 1:7 MEN OF THY CONFEDERACY . . . HAVE DECEIVED THEE . . . THEY THAT EAT THY BREAD LAY A SNARE: Edom’s allies (probably the Arabians with whom Edom joined in the plundering of Judah—see 2 Chronicles 22:1-6—) secretly plotted her downfall all the while they were banqueting with her around the peace tables, Edom’s neighbors, the Arabians, made commercial treaties with her but betrayed her to her enemies at the same time. Keil says, “Edom was a great emporium of the Syrio-Arabian trade, where many valuables were stored, and because of the loss of these riches the prosperity and power of Edom were destroyed.”

Zerr: Obadiah 1:7. Men of thy confederacy has reference to the allies of Edom. When the test comes they will turn against him and drive him to the border, which means that Edom will be driven to the last extremity. It frequently happens that the professed friends of a man will reverse themselves and become his enemies. The last two words of the verse are rendered "of it” in the margin, and both Moffatt and the American Revised version agree with it. The idea is that Edom’s professed friends were weaving a web around him and he did not have the good sense to realize it.

Obadiah 1:8 DESTROY THE WISE MEN OUT OF EDOM: We, with Keil, do not believe Obadiah means that the wise men of Edom will be slain but that the Lord will take away their discernment, making them to become fools, so that they will be of no help to Edom. That Edom was known for its “wise men” is evident from Jeremiah 49:7; Isaiah 19:11; Isaiah 29:14 and especially from the fact that Eliphaz, the “wise man” who was the “friend” of Job was from Teman (Job 2:1, etc.). Romans 1:18-32 serves to explain how and why God gave these Gentiles up to their own foolishness. When any people refuses to have God in their knowledge and exchange the truth of God for lies, God gives them up and sends them a strong delusion so that they may believe a lie (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12). This is what happened to Edom. Proud in her Own conceit she became a fool!

Zerr: Obadiah 1:8. That day refers to the time when the overthrow- of Edom was to take place. The nation as a whole was to be ruined, but also its wise men were to be shown to be unable to preserve the country by their leadership.

Obadiah 1:9 AND THY MIGHTY MEN . . . SHALL BE DISMAYED . . . Teman is another name for the southern district of Idumea, named after Teman a son of Eliphaz and a grandson of Esau (cf. Genesis 36:11; Genesis 36:15). With the destruction of wisdom and discernment by the Lord (cf. Isaiah 29:14-16; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31) even the mighty warriors and men of valor lost hope and the nation was cut off. As we have mentioned earlier in our Introduction to Obadiah, the Edomites were betrayed by their allies and lost their high, rocky fortress in Petra delivered to the borders of their enemies and forced to live in the wastelands of the deserts of southern Palestine, there to become known as Idumeans. The Idumeans perished from the earth, as a nation, about 70 A.D. The Nabateans, from the nomadic Arabian tribes, inhabited the cliffs of Petra but not for long for God’s doom had been pronounced against this place. God was to speak through other prophets that this territory would become so desolate it would become home only for the hawk, porcupine and owl: Isaiah said that thorns would grow over its strongholds, and it would be the haunt of jackals and other kinds of wild beasts (Isaiah 34).

Zerr: Obadiah 1:9. Teman was a district located by or adjoining the land of Edom if not a part of it. Mount of Esau is equivalent to "Mount Seir” (Genesis 14:6). The mighty men means the leaders upon whom the inhabitants of the country of Edom relied for guidance. Their apparent wisdom will be exposed and they will be left overwhelmed with dismay.

Many words of doom rang out against this seemingly impregnable rock fortress and its inhabitants. But for years it seemed that whoever occupied the cliffs would be safe and secure for no enemy could get in to attack the city. Even in the time of Rome’s power and dominion, Petra and her inhabitants were still rich and powerful. But God said the proud city would be brought down, that it would be left deserted. How could this possibly happen when it was in such an important position and so well protected? For centuries the long, rich caravans laden with precious, costly treasures for trade from the East made Petra one of the most important stopping and trading places along the one and only trade route from the East to the West. But without warning and almost without reason a new caravan route opened up far to the north of Petra making Palmyra its chief stopping place. No longer did the camel caravans pass through the mountains of Seir with their precious cargoes. The great trade center Petra was suddenly cut off from the main highway, the city was left alone in its rocky wilderness. Soon the people left the cliff side homes that had taken years of patient labor to build. Their fortress wasn’t strong enough to hide them from God’s judgment. No great battles, no mighty armies, were needed to make God’s sure word of prophecy come true. No, only the changing of a trade route and Petra, the city which had been powerful and rich, became a hollow shell, emptied of all life except the owl and the jackal. You can go there this very day and see the prophecy fulfilled before your very eyes. In 150 A.D. the Roman emperor Trajan all but obliterated the Nabatean people from the face of the earth.

Questions

1. How complete will be God’s judgment against Edom?

2. How was Edom’s downfall finally brought about?

3. How does God destroy the wisdom of Edom’s wise men?

4. Why would the mighty men of Teman be dismayed?

5. How was God’s Word, that Petra would become the habitat for wild beasts, finally fulfilled?

Verses 10-16

Oba 1:10-16

THE JUSTICE OF GOD’S JUDGMENT UPON EDOM

TEXT: Obadiah 1:10-16

The prophet enumerates the specific crimes against God’s elect of which Edom was guilty. He then, using Edom as typical of all that opposes God, pronounces God’s judgment upon worldly power and unbelief in the form of the “day of Jehovah.”

Obadiah 1:10 FOR . . . VIOLENCE . . . TO THY BROTHER JACOB, SHAME SHALL COVER THEE . . . Wrong or violence is all the more heinous when committed against a brother and the Israelites (Jacob) were brothers to the Edomites (Esau). We recall others sinning against their own; Joseph and his brethren; Ammon and Tamar; Saul and Jonathan; David and Absalom. The strong ties of blood between the Edomites and the Israelites should have impelled the Edomites to give aid to the oppressed people of Judea, but quite to the contrary, they not only gloated over the plundering of their cities and villages but joined in with the enemies of the Israelites. While the hatred of the Edomites for the Israelites, beginning with their progenitor’s hatred for his brother (Genesis 27:41), increased over the centuries, the Israelites were commanded in the law to conduct themselves in brotherly attitudes toward the Edomites (Deuteronomy 2:4-5; Deuteronomy 23:7). We should not be surprised at the judgment of shame and “cutting-off” pronounced upon the Edomites for their actions toward their brethren. God pronounced prophetic judgment upon Canaan for his evil toward Noah his father (Genesis 9:24-29), Jacob prophecies certain judgments upon the descendants of his sons (Genesis 49:1 ff). The shame of defeat and destruction at the hands of the God of Israel was to come upon this proud, rich and unconquerable people. Their wisdom would be turned into foolishness, their bravery would be turned into cowardice, their proud nation would be turned into an exiled group of desert-dwellers, despised by the Jews.

Zerr: Obadiah 1:10. The relation of brother to Jacob was a bodily one (Genesis 25:25-26), and their descendants are referred to in history and prophecy as if they were meant personally. The two groups were always regarded as being in a state of hostility against each other; especially the Edomites against Israel.

Obadiah 1:11 . . . THOU STOODEST ON THE OTHER SIDE . . . STRANGERS CARRIED AWAY . . . FOREIGNERS ENTERED . . . CAST LOTS, THOU WAST AS ONE OF THEM, Not only did the Edomites “stand on the other side” watching with glee the plundering of the city of Jerusalem and other Judean villages by marauding tribes of Arabians and Philistines, they joined in the desecration of God’s holy mountain and thus became an enemy of God in their actions against God’s people. They are like those who later “hated God’s anointed without a cause” (cf. John 15:25; Psalms 35:19; Psalms 69:4). There are those today who need to know that hatred of God’s church and His people is hatred for God. Opposition to the church is declaring war on God (cf. John 15:18; 1 John 3:13). The church is the militant body of Christ engaged in a great spiritual conflict (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 6:10-20). Those not on God’s side, members of His church, are His enemies. “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity (war) with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4). Obadiah is the first of the literary prophets to state this as a principle but all the others from Joel to Malachi teach the same principle.

Zerr: Obadiah 1:11, The various works of reference differ as to whether this verse is history or prophecy. I do not believe it makes any difference as far as its truthfulness is concerned, for Obadiah was writing by inspiration (verse 1) of God, and with Him all is ail absolute “now” as to its surety. The truth of the matter is that Edom took pleasure from the misfortunes of his brother Jacob, and also participated to some extent in connection with those misfortunes. An important principle is expressed in this verse by the first and last groups of words: Tn the day that thou stoodest on the other side . . . even thou least as one of them. Even had Edom taken no physical part in the misfortunes of Israel, the fact of his standing on the side opposite him, the other side, would have included him among the enemies of his brother; this principle is taught by Jesus in Matthew 6:24; Matthew 12:30. There is no "neutral" ground in questions ot right and wrong, but every man is either for or against that which is right.

Obadiah 1:12 LOOK NOT . . . REJOICE NOT . . . NEITHER SPEAK PROUDLY IN THE DAY OF DISTRESS . . . Obadiah uses the perfect tense to indicate that such events had not only already taken place but that they will take place again. Starting from particular historical events which had already transpired Obadiah sees in them all subsequent events of a similar kind. What Edom has done and what has befallen Judah is typical of the future development of the elect of God and of the attitude of worldly principalities toward them until the coming conquest of the Messianic kingdom. Edom’s attitude was one of jealous, spiteful, vengeful rejoicing at the calamities of Judah. Keil quotes Ewald, “. . . the selection of the time of a brother’s calamity as that in which to rage against him with such cunning and malicious pleasure, was doubly culpable.”

Zerr: Obadiah 1:12. The date referred to in this verse is evidently the time recorded in 2 Kings 25. for then it was that the kingdom of Judah was destroyed. Became a stranger means the inhabitants of Judah were carried away into a strange land (Babylonia). Looked is from eaaii and among the many words with which it is rendered in the King James version are approve, enjoy, gaze, regard, respect and think. These translations together with the preceding verse, suggest that Edom looked with detight upon the miseries of his brother. That alone would have him the object of God’s wrath, but we shall see that, he did not stop with the pleasure of his eyes at gazing at the misfortune of Israel.

Obadiah 1:13 ENTER NOT . . . LOOK NOT . . . NEITHER LAY YE HANDS ON THEIR SUBSTANCE IN THE DAY OF THEIR CALAMITY.” The Edomites evidently joined in with the invaders of Jerusalem and other Judean cities in pillaging and despoiling and carrying off their possessions. Pillaging was much more common an accompaniment of invasion in that day than it is now. Yet God considered it, in this case, an affront to Him because it was done to His people. Someday, just as God’s retribution came upon Edom, all His enemies will be judged for their pillaging, plundering and persecuting of the servants of Jesus Christ through the ages (cf. Hebrews 10:32-38).

Zerr: Obadiah 1:13. Not entered . . . day of calamity. It is propel’ to show a friendly spirit for one in distress, but his home should not be invaded at such a time by morbid curiosity seekers. The context indicates that Edom entered and looked on the affliction of Israel with eyes of satisfaction. But he did not stop at that; instead, he took advantage of the distressed state of affairs to seize upon some of the valuables present.

Obadiah 1:14 . . . STAND THOU NOT IN THE CROSSWAY, TO CUT OFF THOSE OF HIS THAT ESCAPE . . . The extent of Edom’s hate and spite is seen in this verse. They had been, and. undoubtedly would be in the future, guilty of fortifying the crossroads, mountain passes and ways of escape against the Judeans fleeing the ravages of the Arabians and Philistines and other marauders, capturing the fugitives and selling them into slavery or delivering them into the hands of their enemies (cf. Joel 3:5-6; Amos 1:6-9). God holds men and nations accountable for contributing to the tribulations of His people in any age. God’s word condemns aggression but commands rulers to be “a terror to those of bad conduct.” It is wrong to instigate war for aggressive purposes but it is right to defend against aggression, (cf. Romans 13:1 ff; 1 Peter 2:13 ff).

Zerr: Obadiah 1:14. Edom further opposed Israel by blocking the road by which he might have escaped from the invader, And there were some who were remaining in the home land, whom Edom helped in some way to be taken over by the enemy forces.

Obadiah 1:15 FOR THE DAY OF JEHOVAH IS NEAR UPON ALL THE NATIONS . . . This phrase, “. . . the day of Jehovah,” or “. . . the day of the Lord,” is one of the distinguishing features of the prophetic literature. It is imperative that the reader know the meaning of this phrase if he is to rightly interpret the message of the prophets. We shall make extensive comments on this phrase here, In prophetic literature, the Day of Jehovah generally denotes any great manifestation of God’s power in judgment or redemption. The exodus from Egypt, the locust plague of Joel’s day, the captivities, the restoration in the days of Ezra, the coming of the Messiah and the Messianic kingdom (the church), the destruction of Jerusalem—are each called, “The Day of Jehovah.” The one great Day of Jehovah (which all judgments and redemptions of Jewish history typify) to which all prophets point is the climactic crisis in the history of God’s scheme of redemption which involves the conquest of all opposition and the complete triumph of God and His covenant people. This, of course, is the complete work of the Messiah (cf. Isaiah 2:2-5; Isaiah 9:1-7; Isaiah 11:1-16; Amos 9:11 ff, etc.) when He shall have “taken captivity captive” (Ephesians 4:8) and have “disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in him,” (Colossians 2:14-15). The prophets speak of the Day of Jehovah as a day of blessing to those who are right with God, but a day of judgment and terror to those who are not. Every “day of Jehovah” experienced by the Jews (each of which symbolized the age when God would accomplish His goal of judgment and redemption in the Messiah) was a time of judgment for those who had been unfaithful to the covenant but a day of vindication and redemption for that faithful remnant. The coming of the Messiah is prophesied in terminology depicting judgment (Malachi 3:1 to Malachi 4:6). Jesus spoke of His first coming as a “judgment” as well as a “redemption” (cf. John 9:39; John 12:31-33; John 3:16-21; Matthew 10:34-39). We quote from Bible Commentary, The Minor Prophets, by Dr. Theodore Laetsch, pub. Concordia, pgs. 203–205:

“The Day of the Lord is that day appointed by the Lord as the Day of Judgment, a day of vengeance unto all unbelievers, of everlasting salvation unto all that have accepted Him as their Redeemer. This term comprises not only this one day, but also all its manifold heralds and forerunners and the eternities following upon the Last Day. Every visitation, every judgment of the Lord, be that a just penalty for the enemies of His kingdom or a gracious visitation for the members of His Church on earth, is a forerunner of, and a guarantee for, the final Day of the Lord. These individual harbingers of the Last Day form as it were the rays diverging from the focal point, the Last Day, towards which they at the same time converge. Therefore every judgment of God upon the wicked world is in a certain sense and to a certain extent a Day of the Lord, presaging the great Day of the Lord, whether it be the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., or the annihilation of Edom, or the fall of Babylon, or the Civil War, or World War I or II.

“. . . It is therefore not mere poetic license nor a misconception on the part of the prophet when he speaks of the Day of the Lord as coming upon all the nations or upon Israel. The judgments visited upon the nations during the centuries of history are an integral part of the Day of the Lord, which extends like a volcanic range throughout the history of sinful mankind and will reach its final consummation on the Last Day, when time shall be swallowed up by eternity.

“The same applies, of course, to all manifestations of God’s grace, everyone of which flows from that unfathomable sea of divine goodness and love which shall be revealed in its full perfection on that great Day of the Lord.”

And so Obadiah announces this Day is near upon all the nations. What Edom has sown, she shall reap! As she has despised and plundered God’s covenant people so she shall be despised and overthrown by God.

Zerr: Obadiah 1:15. As the heathen implies that other people besides the Edomites were to feel the wrath of God. That was true in more than one sense, for in overthrowing that one nation, others were given an indication and warning of what was to he the fate of all kingdoms of the world that followed practices displeasing to God.

Obadiah 1:16 FOR AS YE HAVE DRUNK UPON MY HOLY MOUNTAIN, SO SHALL ALL THE NATIONS DRINK CONTINUALLY; Edom Stands as a symbol or type of all the enemies of God’s covenant people. All world powers or worldly-minded people who are enemies of God (represented in Daniel and Revelation as the Beast and his worshippers) shall drink the wine of God’s wrath (cf. Isaiah 51:17; Isaiah 51:22-23; Jeremiah 25:15; Revelation 14:10). As the nations mock and desecrate God’s church so shall they be mocked and desecrated at His hand, beginning with the establishment of His kingdom.

Zerr: Obadiah 1:16. Drinking a cup figuratively means to partake of some experiences, either pleasant or unpleasant (Psalms 23:5; Psalms 116:13; Jeremiah 25:15 : Matthew 20:23; Matthew 26:39). Edom was destined to drink the cup of God’s wrath because of his assaults upon His holy mountain, and also the other nations were to feel the wrath of the Lord.

Questions

1. How were the Edomites “brothers” to the Israelites and how were the Israelites commanded of God to behave toward the Edomites?

2. To what extent did the Edomites participate in the plundering of the people of Judah?

3. How did the Edomites treat those Israelites who escaped the attacks upon their cities and villages?

4. What is the “Day of Jehovah?”

5. How shall the Day of Jehovah come upon all nations?

Verses 17-21

Oba 1:17-21

VICTORY FOR GOD’S COVENANT PEOPLE

TEXT: Obadiah 1:17-21

Obadiah comforts the covenant people with God’s promise of victory over their inveterate enemies. Not only will they have victory but they will possess the promises God made with their fathers. Obadiah’s promises find their ultimate fulfillment in the Messianic kingdom, the church, when the “kingdom shall be Jehovah’s.”

Obadiah 1:17 BUT IN MOUNT ZION SHALL BE . . . ESCAPE . . . IT SHALL BE HOLY . . . AND JACOB SHALL POSSESS . . . Obadiah speaks of the “day of Jehovah . . . near upon all nations” in Obadiah 1:15. Now God, through the prophet extends His strong right arm of salvation and victory to the covenant people, in Obadiah 1:17, making “Zion” a place of escape. Mount Zion, the southeastern hill of Jerusalem, is the place where the presence of God dwelt according to the Old Testament way of saying things. The prophets used Mount Zion to mean the place where God would manifest His salvation—in other words the Messianic kingdom (the church). Mount Zion became the symbol of Messianic deliverance, peace, security and realization of the promises made to the fathers (patriarchs). The prophets were not intending that all they predicted of Mount Zion would be fulfilled literally—their predictions of the glorious things that were to happen there were intended to be fulfilled in the Messiah and His kingdom. This is plainly apparent when one compares just a few scriptures (Isaiah 33:17-24; Ezekiel 34:11-31; Isaiah 28:16; 1 Peter 2:6; Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:5; Isaiah 59:20-21; Romans 11:25; and especially, Galatians 4:25 ff; Hebrews 12:22-24). That the members of the New Testament church were to be the recipients of the prophetic blessings is shown quite conclusively by the following scriptures (Acts 3:11-26; Acts 13:29-37; Acts 15:13-18; Romans 3:21-22; Romans 9:2-8; Romans 15:8; Romans 15:12; Romans 15:20-21; Romans 15:27; Romans 16:25-27; Hebrews 12:18-29). Now God started His work of redemption through the Messianic kingdom when He made promise first in Genesis 3:15. All who, by faith, kept covenant with God (in whatever covenant they found themselves) found their deliverance in Mount Zion. Abraham saw His day and rejoiced (John 8:56). The verb “shall be deliverance” is in the imperfect and indicates a continuous flow of the deliverance to be found in Mount Zion (this mountain being symbolic of Messianic promise and covenant), All who remained true to God in. Old Testament times—ever looking forward in faith to what God was going to do on Mt. Zion—had deliverance, for Christ died for the transgressions done aforetime (cf. Romans 3:25; Hebrews 9:15-17).

Zerr: Obadiah 1:17. This verse introduces the second of the main subjects mentioned with the comments on verse 1, the return of the people of Israel from captivity. Other verses following will continue to predict some of the returning fortunes of the nation, including its retaking of certain lost territory.

As a result of the future deliverance which will be accomplished ultimately by the Messiah there shall also come an imputed holiness or perfection. Other prophets spoke much about this cleansing the Messiah would bring (Isaiah 35; Isaiah 4:2-4; Zechariah 13:1; Ezekiel 36:25 ff) and the writer of the Hebrew epistle explained it in Hebrews 9-10. Of this holiness the apostle Peter speaks more than once (1 Peter 1:15-16; 1 Peter 2:9-10; 2 Peter 1:4; 2 Peter 3:11-14).

Jacob possessing his possessions was never completely fulfilled until the coming of the Messiah. In the Old Testament God promised to the patriarchs a certain land for their habitation—He promised a proliferous progeny—He promised that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through their seed. The Lord did give them a land and numerous offspring. And even when God took them from their land in chastisement for their idolatry and sent them into exile, He promised to return them to their land. But the careful student of the O.T. will discover that when the Jews returned from the Babylonian captivity under Ezra and others, they did not repossess all their former land. A large portion of the land originally given them by God was possessed by other nations and never regained by the Jews.

Obadiah 1:18-19 . . . JACOB SHALL BE A FIRE . . . JOSEPH A FLAME . . . ESAU . . . STUBBLE . . . NOT ANY REMAINING TO THE HOUSE OF ESAU . . . THEY OF THE SOUTH SHALL POSSESS MOUNT ESAU . . . PHILISTINES . . . FIELD OF EPHRAIM . . . SAMARIA . . . AND GILEAD. In spite of the fact that the Jews never again repossessed the entire land promised to them Obadiah prophesies that they shall not only regain all that had been promised to them but the covenant people would also possess territory which had never been promised them—namely Edom. In Obadiah 1:18 Jacob represents the southern kingdom, Judah, while Joseph represents the northern kingdom, Israel. Thus Obadiah sees the great victory over Edom coming to a re-united covenant people. The fulfillment of this prophecy had its beginning when the Edomites were expelled from their homeland sometime between 550 and 400 B.C. by the Nabateans. The Edomites were driven to the southern wastelands of the desert Negeb, where they became the Idumeans. Simon of Gerasa (see Josephus, War, IV, ch. IX, 7) attacked Idumaea, ravaging cities and villages, laying waste the whole country. By promising them the liberty to plunder and murder at will, Simon succeeded with the aid of Idumean mercenaries in entering Jerusalem where he engaged in bloody battle against other leaders of the city then under siege by Titus the Roman general. At the beginning of of the Roman siege, Simon had about 5000 Jews and 5000 Idumeans under his command. The Idumeans, seeing the hopelessness of resisting the Romans any longer, sent messengers to Titus asking him to spare them if they surrendered. Their plea granted, they were about to leave the city, but Simon discovered it, killed the messengers, imprisoned the Idumean commanders and forced the remaining Idumeans to fight on. The few survivors took refuge among the desert tribes and were absorbed into their communities. Thus ended the proud and cruel nation of Edom. But this was not the ultimate fulfillment as we shall see.

Zerr: Obadiah 1:18. Fire and flame are used figuratively of the glowing recovery of the people of God from their depressed state, and of the downfall of their old enemy, the house of Esau which means the Edomites. This nation was to be utterly overthrown as a separate ruling power as already predicted in this book. Obadiah 1:19. The mention of the south, mount of Esau, plain, the Philistines, etc., is to indicate the various settlements that were to be observed when the Jews repossessed the land of Palestine after the return from exile.

Obadiah 1:20 AND THE CAPTIVITIES OF THIS HOST OF CHILDREN OF ISRAEL . . . SHALL POSSESS . . . When and how, then, were the promises of Obadiah 1:19-20 fulfilled? The Bible itself indicates both the manner and the time of fulfillment. As long as the Old administration of the Covenant continued, God had promised a literal, temporal portion of land as the possession of a repentant Israel (cf. Deuteronomy 30:1-5). The Lord kept His promise and raised up Cyrus, king of Persia, as His servant (Isaiah 45:1 ff; 2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4), to return a repentant remnant of Jews to their Land of Promise. But this was not the final goal toward which God was working. It was a step in that direction, but not the final one. The ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy of Obadiah concerning Jacob and Joseph possessing even Edom is to be tied directly to the prophecy made by Balaam in Numbers 24:17-18. There it is prophecied that Edom (Seir) is to be a possession of Israel when “the star comes forth out of Jacob and the scepter out of Israel.” This, of course, points to fulfillment in the Messianic age. Amos 9:11-12 reveals that when the “tabernacle” (family, dynasty) of David has been rebuilt, not only will the remnant of Edom be possessed by the covenant people but all the nations. There can be no doubt about the fulfillment of this for it has the sanction of apostolic pronouncement (Acts 15:13-18) as having been fulfilled when the Gentiles were received into the New Testament church. And so the book of Acts records the fulfillment of Obadiah 1:17-21, the church’s (the true Mt. Zion) victorious conquest of the Gentiles by the preaching of the gospel.

Zerr: Obadiah 1:20, This verse continues the subject started in the preceding one.

Obadiah 1:21 . . . SAVIOURS . . . ON MOUNT ZION TO JUDGE THE MOUNT OF ESAU; AND THE KINGDOM SHALL BE JEHOVAH’S. This word “saviours” is the same word used of the “judges” (Samuel, Samson and company). These “saviours” would not come upon mount Easu to inflict punitive judgment but to bring deliverance. Deliverers will be sent (in the Messianic age) to Edom so that even a remnant of Edom (Amos 9:12) will be saved. These “saviours” are those who were ambassadors of The Savior taking His gospel to all the world enlarging His kingdom.

The last phrase is majestic! Both Edom and Zion fade from view as all becomes His! All kingdoms are united in that one kingdom, and God is all in all. It began when the “One Shepherd” united all God’s sheep in “one flock” (Ezekiel 34; John 10) and will find its consummation when the Savior appears the second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him (Hebrews 9:28).

Zerr: Obadiah 1:21. It is not a rare thing for the prophets to pass from a prediction of favor to come to fleshly Israel, and prophesy some good fortune to come upon spiritual Israel. (See Isaiah 1:29 with Isaiah 2:1-4; Isaiah 4:2; Isaiah 4:4; Isaiah 40:1-4; Ezekiel 21:24-27.) This is very understand-able, for even the New Testament system of religion was introduced into the world through the Jewish nation, and they were the first to accept the Gospel. So this verse is a prediction of the kingdom that was to be the Lord’s and "stand for ever."

God’s goal, as Obadiah sees it, is the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises. In one form or another this is the closing note of almost every prophetic book in the Old Testament (cf. Obadiah 1:21; Joel 3:21; Amos 9:14; Micah 7:20; Habakkuk 3:18; Zephaniah 3:17; Haggai 2:19; Ezekiel 48:35; Zechariah 14:20-21, etc.), The composite picture given by such passages as these is that of the victory of God and His kingdom over every foe; of unbroken fellowship between a people finally made holy to the Lord and their ever-present faithful God; of a new Covenant which does not supplant but fulfills the old. God reaches this goal through a series of successive acts of judgment and redemption in history culminating in the Messianic judgment—redemption which is to be consummated at His second coming.

And, so to speak, Obadiah becomes a proto-type of all the later prophets who, speaking the portion God has given them to speak and in the manner God has lead them to speak, (Hebrews 1:1), amplify his brief but basic message.

Questions

1. What is the “holiness” which Obadiah says will be in Mt. Zion?

2. What are the possessions which Jacob would possess according to Obadiah?

3. What does Obadiah 1:21 show as to the ultimate purpose of God and thus the principle message of Obadiah?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Obadiah 1". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/obadiah-1.html.
 
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