Obadiah – A Loving God Promises Complete Destruction

God is loving and patient.  He sets times according to His purpose and we don’t know the specifics of when they are.

It appears that when God ordained Obadiah to pronounce His judgement against Edom He had endured all of Edom’s choices and His judgement against Edom would be complete with no mercy given them.

God starts the prophecy of Obadiah by telling us that a human coalition was formed to destroy Edom.  From there, the rest of the prophecy is focused on God and His promises to actively destroy Edom until there is nothing left of the nation.  He promises to destroy them five times, He tells them why and He finishes by promising that He will restore His people.

 

I saw six sections in the prophecy (could be less to you with only 21 verses).  The prophecy is short but historically important to Edom and Israel.  It’s also important afterwards to demonstrate that total destruction is a valid facet of God’s nature after His patience is exhausted.

I – Human Coalition

The vision of Obadiah. Thus says the Lord GOD concerning Edom: We have heard a report from the LORD, and a messenger has been sent among the nations: “Rise up! Let us rise against her for battle!”
Obadiah 1:1

God uses people as His instruments many times and here He points out that He’s sent a messenger to raise up a coalition of nations against Edom to accomplish His will.

 

II – God’s Promise to Destroy Edom

Behold, I will make you small among the nations; you shall be utterly despised.
The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in your lofty dwelling, who say in your heart, “Who will bring me down to the ground?”
Though you soar aloft like the eagle, though your nest is set among the stars, from there I will bring you down, declares the LORD.
Obadiah 1:2-4

Twice in verses 2-4 God declares that He, God, will actively destroy Edom.  In these instances He promises to destroy them in a way that’s very personal to the people of Edom.  He promises first to make them

“… small among the nations….”
Obadiah 1:2

This matters to Edomites as demonstrated in verses 3 wherein the national attitude based on their physical security is:

“Who will bring me down to the ground?”
Obadiah 1:3

God points out that as a nation they speak, think and act out of pride so He promises that His destruction will come via the mechanism of humbling them as a nation.

Edom was a land of mountains south of the Dead Sea.  Edom is loosely highlighted in red in the map below (from maps.google.com).

EdomEdom has sandstone cliffs into which some some strongholds such as Petra or Sela were carved.

 

 

Edom 001 - 800wide

Edom 002 - 800wide

Edom 004 - 800wide

Edom 003 - 800wide

Images licensed from fotolia.com, rights reserved by respective owners & licensees

 

God promises that no matter how Edomites think they may run from the God of their Israelite relatives, He will destroy them.

Though you soar aloft like the eagle, though your nest is set among the stars, from there I will bring you down, declares the LORD.
Obadiah 1:4

 

If thieves came to you, if plunderers came by night– how you have been destroyed!– would they not steal only enough for themselves? If grape gatherers came to you, would they not leave gleanings?
How Esau has been pillaged, his treasures sought out!
Obadiah 1:5-6

God contrasts His judgement and complete desolation of Edom against what they would endure at the hands of humans.  People would be incomplete or maybe even moved to mercy but God’s judgement won’t fail or be swayed.

 

All your allies have driven you to your border; those at peace with you have deceived you; they have prevailed against you; those who eat your bread have set a trap beneath you– you have no understanding.
Will I not on that day, declares the LORD, destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of Mount Esau?
And your mighty men shall be dismayed, O Teman, so that every man from Mount Esau will be cut off by slaughter.
Obadiah 1:7-9

God again declares His intent to be personally active in Edom’s destruction.  He promises to use Edom’s allies against them, to undermine those in whom Edom has confidence.  He promises to destroy Edom’s wisdom and bring fear to their mighty warriors of Teman.  His final promise against just Edom is that “… every man from Mount Esau will be cut off in slaughter.”  God makes a promise of complete destruction for the people of Edom.

 

III – Key Verse for Edom

Because of the violence done to your brother Jacob, shame shall cover you, and you shall be cut off forever.
Obadiah 1:10

This is the central theme of Obadiah’s prophecy.  Edom turned on their sibling nation, Israel – God’s chosen people, and for that Edom will be utterly destroyed.  Unlike Jonah’s message to Assyria, Obadiah’s message doesn’t end in mercy.  Edom continues in their evil treatment of Israel to their own destruction.

 

IV – God’s Indictment of Edom

God recounts Edom’s choices like a righteous judge reading charges against a defendant.

On the day that you stood aloof, on the day that strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them.
But do not gloat over the day of your brother in the day of his misfortune; do not rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their ruin; do not boast in the day of distress.
Do not enter the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; do not gloat over his disaster in the day of his calamity; do not loot his wealth in the day of his calamity.
Do not stand at the crossroads to cut off his fugitives; do not hand over his survivors in the day of distress.
Obadiah 1:11-14

 

V – God Expands His Promise of Destruction
(Key Verse for Us)

For the day of the LORD is near upon all the nations. As you have done, it shall be done to you; your deeds shall return on your own head.
For as you have drunk on my holy mountain, so all the nations shall drink continually; they shall drink and swallow, and shall be as though they had never been.
Obadiah 1:15-16

God now expands his promise to include more nations than just Edom.  He promises that in His day of judgement He will pour out punishment upon all the nations that have taken advantage of God’s people on His holy mountain.  The payment of their deeds shall be applied to them.

I think Obadiah 1:15 is critically important for us to get

… the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations … your deeds shall return on your own head.

It is imperative for each person to understand that refusing the Lord’s mercy during this life is a personal choice that will lead to the same type of complete destruction that Edom faced except where individuals are concerned it’s not just nihilistic.  People don’t just cease to be like nations can.  People continue into eternity, enduring punishment unless they individually and personally accept the grace of God given through His Messiah, Jesus’ sacrificial death and glorious resurrection from the dead.

 

VI – God’s Promise to Restore His People

But in Mount Zion there shall be those who escape, and it shall be holy, and the house of Jacob shall possess their own possessions.
The house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau stubble; they shall burn them and consume them, and there shall be no survivor for the house of Esau, for the LORD has spoken.
Those of the Negeb shall possess Mount Esau, and those of the Shephelah shall possess the land of the Philistines; they shall possess the land of Ephraim and the land of Samaria, and Benjamin shall possess Gilead.
The exiles of this host of the people of Israel shall possess the land of the Canaanites as far as Zarephath, and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad shall possess the cities of the Negeb.
Saviors shall go up to Mount Zion to rule Mount Esau, and the kingdom shall be the LORD’s.
Obadiah 1:17-21

God promises to restore His people in Israel and establish His Kingdom after utterly destroying those who oppose His people.

 

Conclusion

God is loving.  He is patient.  He is generous, merciful and gracious.  He wants to pour out His blessing on all people but once people have gone beyond the point of His mercy then His destruction will be complete.  Edom passed that point as a nation but if you’re reading this then you still have time for repentance!

I believe God’s pronouncement of His judgement of Edom mirrors the eternal destruction many will face in Hell.  God is the Lord of Hell just as He is the Lord of every other place.  He will be in Hell, witnessing the torment of those who refused to humble themselves to Him but He will be unmoved from His righteous response to their rejection of Him.  I pray that you won’t experience that eternal death of being separated from the Holy God of Israel.  He is a good God, the one true living God, and He loves you.