Obadiah: “The kingdom shall be the LORD’s.”

Obadiah, which means ‘servant’, was a prophet who spoke the word of the LORD (v. 18), and what he wrote was a vision he saw concerning Edom.* It is likely that he wrote this in relation to Edom’s participation with the Babylonians, in the invasion of Judah, “which resulted eventually in her collapse in 586 B.C. Both Scripture (Ps. 137; Ezek. 35:1-15) and Jewish tradition explicitly mention the Edomites’ involvement in this final catastrophe, and the text of Obadiah seems to refer more naturally to this event” (NGSB p.1412). Jeremiah had a very similar witness near the end of his ministry (Jer. 49:7-22).

Edom’s downfall was in their deceiving themselves due to sinful pride in their own hearts (vv. 1-4). Esau and his descendants made treaties with pagan nations, and these were also used by God in being complicit in her downfall (vv. 5-7). The Lord God had cut off all their wise men, and those who could have understood this (vv. 8-9). Edom simply carried forward the hatred which Esau had for his brother, who received the greater covenantal blessing. As the enemies came upon Judah, Edom was in their number (vv. 10-11). Indeed, they stood at the crossroads where there was a possibility of escape, and turned over their brothers (vv. 12-14).

Therefore, Edom would suffer the same judgment as the nations-a reprisal (vv. 15-16). “‘But on Mount Zion there shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. The house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame; but the house of Esau shall be stubble; they shall kindle them and devour them, and no survivor shall remain of the house of Esau,’ for the LORD has spoken” (vv. 17-18). One day things will be reversed, and God’s covenant people will possess the whole earth (vv. 19-20), and this time started when the final Deliverer came, “and the kingdom shall be the LORD’s” (v. 21).

* “The bitterness between Edom and Israel began in the patriarchal period. God blessed Isaac and Rebekah with twin sons, Esau and Jacob (Gen. 25:21-26; cf. Mal. 1:2, 3; Rom. 9:10-13). The personal rivalry between Jacob and Esau (Gen. 27), from whom the nations of Israel and Edom descended, developed into longstanding national conflict (Ex. 15:13-15; Num. 20:14-21; 1 Sam. 14:47; 2 Sam. 8:13, 14; 1 Kin. 11:14, 15; 2 Kin. 8:20-22; 14:7). Edom also symbolically represents the enemies of God’s people (Is. 63:1-6). Edom prospered, Judah lay defeated, and the moral order of the world appeared to have been overthrown by lawless forces. But the prophet Obadiah was raised up with a message of God’s sovereign justice in order to strengthen His people’s weak faith. It is the righteous purpose of God, not the evil will of men, that determines history.” (NGSB p.1413).

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