Introduction to Obadiah
Obadiah wrote this shortest book of the Old Testament probably soon after the armies of Babylon destroyed Jerusalem (586 b.c.). During this conquest, the people of Edom helped capture fleeing Israelites and turn them over to the Babylonians. They even took up residence in some Judean villages. This angered the Lord, for the Edomites, as descendants of Esau, were related to the Israelites (Gen. 25:21–26, 30) and therefore should have helped them. Obadiah prophesied that Edom would be repaid for mistreating God’s people. Obadiah also asserted that God is sovereign over the nations and that the house of Jacob would be restored because of God’s covenant love for his people.
Obadiah may or may not be the earliest prophet, depending on which fallible commentator we follow. Both Smith and Whitcomb (Chart 1) place him in the mid-800s BC before Joel. The ESV bible translators place him in the early 500s BC. That is a BIG time-gap. We will ignore that and treat his text first.
Obadiah 15–21 — The Day of the Lord Is Near
15 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. 16 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 spent the first 14 verses on near-term prophecy against Edom, Israel’s enemy and descendants of Esau, Isaac’s oldest son. He now turns to the far-term “day of the Lord,” which is “near upon all nations [goyim].” Goyim refers to nations (peoples) other than Israel. So, this prophecy is addressed to those foreign or pagan nations. He says that each of us – we are the goyim – will pay for our deeds – “your deeds shall return on your own head.” Jesus took upon himself the price for the Christian’s “deeds,” saving us from having them on our “own head.”
The Lord has and will punish the Israelites for a time – “you have drunk on my holy mountain” – a cup of wrath for their sins against God. Now “all the nations shall drink” the wrath of God “continually” – for eternity. They shall “drink and swallow,” meaning God’s wrath will be consumed by them. It will be taken in and become a part of them. The result will be that there will be no memory of these pagan nations (goyim) and it will “be as though they had never been.”
17 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. 18 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.
In “Mount Zion, there shall be those who escape.” Within a day of the Lord prophecy, Joel tells us about this time – “it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.” (Joe 2:32) Those in Israel and Jerusalem who turn to the Lord will be saved. At this time, Jerusalem “shall be holy” when the Lord comes in power and glory on the day of the Lord.
The words that place this prophecy in the End Times is “all the nations [goyim] … shall be as though they had never been. But in Mount Zion there shall be those who escape, and it[Mount Zion]shall be holy” in verses 16 & 17. Jerusalem [Mount Zion] has not been “holy” again since the dispersion of the Jews by Assyria and Babylon. They came back to Jerusalem and even rebuilt the Temple, but there is no indication in Scripture that the Lord God’s Spirit dwelt within again. Read Ezekiel 10 and 11 about the departure of God’s glory from the temple and Jerusalem. An outline of that vision is:
- “the glory of the Lord went up from the cherub to the threshold of the house [Temple]” (Eze 10:4)
- Then, in stages “the glory of the Lord went out from the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim.” (Eze 10:18)
- And as though God was reluctant to leave “the cherubim lifted up their wings and mounted up from the earth … And they stood at the entrance of the east gate of the house of the Lord.” (Eze 10:19)
- Finally, in chapter 11 of Ezekiel, God leaves the city – “the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain that is on the east side of the city.” (Eze 11:23)
This “mountain that is on the east side of the city” (Eze 11:23) is the Mount of Olives where our risen Lord Jesus ascended into heaven. (see Acts 1:1-11) He will one day return to that mountain on the Day of the Lord. Zechariah wrote that “On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward.” (Zec 14:4)
Read Ezekiel 8 and 9 to understand the appalling extent of depravity in Jerusalem and even in the temple of God which caused God to remove his glory. Since 1948 Israel has once again become a nation. However, it is a secular nation. The glory has not yet returned, and Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones (Eze 37) gives us a clear prophetic picture of that. His Spirit will return, and Jerusalem will be holy, but not until the day of the Lord.
On the day of the Lord, “The house of Jacob [the Israelites] shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau stubble.” The Israelites will consume the enemy nations around them. However, the battle will actually be the Lord’s. As Zechariah writes – “a day is coming for the Lord, when … I will gather all the nations [goyim] against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle.” (Zec 14:1–3) The armies of the Antichrist will overrun Jerusalem, pillage and kill, until the Lord (yhwh) takes up the battle to destroy their enemies.
(Continuing with Obadiah)
The Kingdom of the Lord
19 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. 20 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. 21 Saviors shall go up to Mount Zion to rule Mount Esau, and the kingdom shall be the Lord’s.
After the Lord returns and saves the remnant in Zion, the borders of the nation will be expanded to the original borders of the promised land. They will “possess Mount Esau” to the east, the “Philistines” to the west, “Ephraim and the land of Samaria” to the north, and all the other surrounding areas. God told them several times what the extent of their possessions would be:
“On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates,” (Ge 15:18)
“I will set your border from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates …” (Ex 23:31a)
Also see Numbers 34:1-12 for a detailed description of the borders.
In 1917 the Balfour Declaration established the boundaries of Palestine in keeping with the original boundaries of Israel as defined by God. See Figure 1 for that map.
At that time “the kingdom shall be the Lord’s.” This refers to the Millennial Kingdom mentioned in Revelation when John saw – “an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while. Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” (Re 20:1–4)
Obadiah is a small book, but it contains wonderful prophetic news for all Christians. We know that Jesus, on the day of the Lord, will defeat sin and death and bring in the Millennium of his reign on earth. If you do not yet know him as your Savior and Lord, settle that eternal issue today. All of these prophecies we will study in The Day of the Lord study will lead us to:
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Re 20:11–15)
Get ready today! Turn to the Lord and have your name written in “the book of life.”
Come Lord Jesus!
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