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!”
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.
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!
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.
Because of the violence done to your brother Jacob,
shame shall cover you,
and you shall be cut off forever.
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.
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.
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.
On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.
While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him. And he charged him to tell no one, but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”
After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.
And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’”
(Luke 5 ESV)
For the Love of God
WE EARLIER REFLECTED ON THE judgments God pronounced on Edom, the nation made up of the descendants of Esau (and thus the distant cousins of the Israelites). Ezekiel is very explicit (Ezek. 35; see meditation for October 2); Hosea is less prosaic but says similar things (Hosea 13; see meditation for November 7). Here in Obadiah, an entire book (albeit a short one) is devoted to this theme. The time is after the sack of Jerusalem in 587 B.C., and possibly as late as the early postexilic period when the Jews started returning to the land. The fulfillment of these prophecies took place over an extended period. Certainly by 312 the capital of Edom was firmly in the hands of the Nabatean Arabs. A coalition of Arabs had been displacing the Edomites for more than a century. In the early period they were led by King Geshem, who in about 440 was one of Nehemiah’s opponents.
One must ask why the Old Testament prophets devote so much time and space to Edom.
(1) Swelling through this little book is the theme of God’s justice. If Edom could get away with her triumphalism and gloating, when her own conduct was no better than that of the nation of the Jews she mocked, then there is no justice.
(2) The point can be universalized. “The day of the Lord is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head” (15, italics added). Although in some ways Edom is unique (of the surrounding nations only she had blood ties to Israel), yet at another level she stands as an important model for all nations. When we see opponents fall, we had better recognize that God is the One who exacts temporal judgments — and one day all of us will face eternal judgment. Temporal judgments are thus God’s prophetic announcement of what will happen to all. Jesus argues along similar lines (Luke 13:1-5) with respect to relatively small groups of individuals. Here Obadiah insists the same thing is true at the level of the nation. The Nazis fell: should we gloat and pat our backs in triumphalistic glee? Shall we not remember that Germany was a country of extraordinary education and technical competence, and it turned toward power, expansionism, and cascading evil — and fell? Should we not fear, and beg God for mercy that we might walk in integrity, honor, and love of virtue?
(3) In some ways, Obadiah is a commentary on Amos 9:12. Like Judah, Edom is cut down. Nevertheless the hope of the world lies in Judah’s future, not Edom’s — and that kingdom is the Lord’s (17, 21). That was reason enough not to despise God’s covenant people, both then and now.