The Old Testament Presents... Reflections of Christ
by Paul R. Van Gorder
- This little book is one of the shortest in the Bible. It is primarily a prophecy against Edom, a mountainous country southeast of Israel. It had been settled by the descendants of Esau, Jacob's brother. The people had been foes of Israel for centuries. Remember, it was Edom that refused Israel passage through their land on the way to Canaan [Numbers 20:14-21]. Because of this hostility, and because the prophet knew they would side with Israel's enemies, he delivered a scathing prophecy against Edom.
Prophecy is pre-written history. Obadiah knew that a foreign foe was coming. Esau was the son of Isaac, just as Jacob was, but he cared more for the temporal things of the world than for his birthright (Genesis 25:27-34). His descendants were just like him. The message, therefore, is directed to those who have the opportunity to be spiritual, but who choose instead to be worldly.
When Israel was hard-pressed, Edom refused to help them. They took a neutral stance; they adopted a do-nothing policy. Finally, they engaged in open hostility against Israel.
No personal history of the man, Obadiah, is given. We do know that his name means ''worshiper'' or ''servant of Jehovah.'' His writings foresee the doom of the Edomites. Although the Edomites have lost their national identity among the existing nations [today], God will search them out in the last days. Obadiah's prediction, of the destruction about to befall them, is a picture of the judgment to come upon the nations.
- OUTLINE OF THE BOOK--
- Doom upon Edom (v.1-9)
- The Cause for Destruction (v.10-14)
- The Day of the Lord (v.15-21)
- STEPS IN EDOM'S DOWNFALL--
- Tracing the stages of Edom's decline is a valuable study.
- First, the prophet accused them of standing aloof (v.11). In every conflict between right and wrong, the person who remains neutral does much of the damage.
- Second, they actually saw the destruction and distress of Jerusalem with their own eyes (v.12). What a terrible thing to refuse to help the Lord's people! In the present Jewish situation, we would do well to consider the fact that God's attitude has not changed toward His chosen people. Oh, I know that one may argue the craftiness of the Jews, pointing out that they are still supplanters. Even so, we must not join those who would condemn them. I fear for any nation that causes grief to Israel. [cp. Gen 12:1-3]
- Third, the Edomites gloated when Israel fell (v.12).
- Fourth, they spoke proudly; they had what we call the ''pharisaical attitude.'' Edom stood by and said, ''That's all right; they probably deserved it.''
- Fifth, not only were the Edomites guilty of wicked indifference, they eventually became actively involved in Israel's distress (v.13).
- Sixth, Edom took advantage of Judah's trouble by plundering some of their wealth (v.13).
Sin is never the sudden outburst of a moment.
(Note carefully the steps these relatives of Israel had taken in their downfall.)
- Seventh, they gave open assistance to the enemy (v.14). When the Israelites escaped and tried to flee, the Edomites cut them off from their defenses and handed them over to their pursuers.
- Yes, it's the old story of the progression of sin. The Old Testament prophet was thundering out the New Testament principle of ''whatever a man soweth, that shall he also reap'' (Galatians 6:7).
Read verses 15 and 16 of Obadiah. Five years later, Nebuchadnezzar invaded the mountain stronghold of Edom. The people learned the meaning of Obadiah's words, ''As thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee; thy reward shall return upon thine own head'' (v.15).
The prophet used a familiar phrase which shows that the destruction of Edom was a type of further judgment to come at a later time. That phrase is ''the day of the Lord.''
- THE LAST SCENE (v.15-21)
- The Lord allowed the prophet to look beyone all judgments to see Jehovah's ultimate triumph. This book, though brief, reaches forward to the second coming of the Lord Jesus. This prophecy promises both spiritual and national recovery to Israel, and restoration to the scattered children of Jacob. It ends with this triumphant note: ''...the kingdom shall be the Lord's'' (v.21). This is messianic.
G. Campbell Morgan has said, ''The final word of the prophecy is the final word of ALL prophecy, 'the kingdom shall be Jehovah's.' ''
See the Book Notes on Obadiah for a verse by verse study of this book.
Return to table of contents for ''The Old Testament Presents... Reflections of Christ,''
written by Paul R. Van Gorder, Copyright 1982 by RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI.
Used by permission [within The Book from thebookwurm.com].
Further distribution is not allowed without permission from RBC.
For another brief look at this book of the Bible,
see the related chapter in Christ in All the Scriptures, by A.M. Hodgkin.
Go to The Book opening page.