Obadiah’s Vision

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Today, I’m sharing a few thoughts on the brief Book of Obadiah. “The Vision of Obadiah” is actually the title of the Book… The word “vision” conveys the manner in which the Holy Spirit gave this Word to the Prophet Obadiah.

The vision of Obadiah. Thus says the Lord God concerning Edom— We have heard a report from the Lord, and an envoy has been sent among the nations saying, “Arise and let us go against her for battle”— 2 “Behold, I will make you small among the nations; you are greatly despised (Obadiah 1:1-2 NASB).

“Edom” means “red” or “rosy,” the same as “Adam.” Perhaps Edom typifies the first Adam, who failed, and, therefore, the flesh, while Israel typified the Last Adam, the Messiah Jesus, Who succeeded by the Power of the Holy Spirit.  Personally, I believe this is a very plausible typological interpretation.

The LORD was guiding the particular nations respecting opposition to Edom, portraying His minute involvement not only in the affairs of individuals but even entire nations. The Edomites boasted of their strength, the impregnability of their country, and their wisdom.   And it was true that they were a powerful nation, which possessed an almost impregnable seat at Petra.  However, the nations were coming against her with little fear of her boasts of strength.

“The arrogance of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in the loftiness of your dwelling place, who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to earth?’ 4 “Though you build high like the eagle, though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,” declares the Lord. 5 “If thieves came to you, if robbers by night— O how you will be ruined!— would they not steal only until they had enough? If grape gatherers came to you, would they not leave some gleanings? (Obadiah 1:3-5 NASB).

“The arrogance of your heart has deceived you” refers to the reason for God’s opposition to these people. “You who live in the clefts of the rock, in the loftiness of your dwelling place” refers to the capital city of Petra.  The Edomites were “high” respecting topography, and moreover, “high” in their own hearts.  Their question, “Who will bring me down to earth?” was directed at Israel’s God as much as at any nation.  They considered themselves superior to Israel and their god superior to Jehovah God.

But foreign powers would heavily tax the country, thereby representing the “thieves,” while ultimately Edom would be invaded, signifying violence. The Prophet Obadiah then exclaims, “O how you will be ruined!” signifying a total desolation, which is exactly what happened down through the centuries, until there are no Edomites left.

“O how Esau will be ransacked, and his hidden treasures searched out! 7 “All the men allied with you will send you forth to the border, and the men at peace with you will deceive you and overpower you. They who eat your bread will set an ambush for you. (There is no understanding in him.) 8 “Will I not on that day,” declares the Lord, “Destroy wise men from Edom and understanding from the mountain of Esau? (Obadiah 1:6-8 NASB).

The Edomites were descendants of Esua, Jacob’s twin brother. It is believed by some that Esau may have founded the city of Petra, a great emporium of trade between Arabia and Syria which stored treasures.  The prediction is that this great wealth of treasures would be sought up and pilfered.

Edom’s allies probably included Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Zidon. These were the nations who joined together to resist Nebuchadnezzar and were smitten by him.  Edom sent ambassadors to these allies, asking help, but the messengers were conducted back to their borders with their request not granted, as they were unwilling to entangle themselves in the fate of Edom.  No amount of argument could persuade them to change their political stance, as even the closest friendships being violated by deception and treachery.  “There is no understanding in him” reflects the shock of this defection of allies, to where Edom did not know where to turn or what to do.

As stated, the LORD Himself Personally intervenes in the thinking processes of the individuals involved, so that they should not anymore be able to offer prudent counsel or suggest plans of safety. The conclusion of the question, “And understanding from the mount of Esau” is meant to infer that all human wisdom, regardless of its brilliance, will ultimately be brought to extinction.

“Then your mighty men will be dismayed, O Teman, so that everyone may be cut off from the mountain of Esau by slaughter. 10 “Because of violence to your brother Jacob, you will be covered with shame, and you will be cut off forever. 11 “On the day that you stood aloof, on the day that strangers carried off his wealth, and foreigners entered his gate and cast lots for Jerusalem— you too were as one of them (Obadiah 1:9-11 NASB).

The ruin and captivity of the Children of Judah and Jerusalem had caused great jubilation among the sons of Esau, and as well, her opposition included far more than jubilation over Israel’s troubles, but instead included hostile action. Their conduct was aggravated by the fact that the victim was their “brother Jacob,” who was commanded not to hate the Edomites.

Nevertheless the LORD your God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the LORD your God turned to the curse into a Blessing unto you, because the LORD your God loved you. You shall not seek their peace nor their prosperity all your days forever.  You shall not abhor an Edomite for he is your brother; you shall not abhor an Egyptian because you were strangers in his land (Deut 23:5-7 KJV).

“Do not gloat over your brother’s day, the day of his misfortune. And do not rejoice over the sons of Judah in the day of their destruction; yes, do not boast in the day of their distress. 13 “Do not enter the gate of My people in the day of their disaster.  Yes, you, do not gloat over their calamity in the day of their disaster.  And do not loot their wealth in the day of their disaster. 14 “Do not stand at the fork of the road to cut down their fugitives; and do not imprison their survivors in the day of their distress (Obadiah 1:12-14 NASB).

Obadiah, knowing their past behavior, knowing that Jerusalem will suffer another and more fatal conquest, warns the Edomites against repeating this malicious conduct, as if they were strangers of foreigners to Israel. They had first looked, and now they rejoiced, but they never dreamed that Jehovah God was observing all of their actions.  In fact, they scoffed at even the existence of Jehovah God.

Three times the Holy Spirit uses the phrase “in the day of their distress” in order to make certain of the time of which He speaks. This insinuates their helplessness and the anger expressed by the LORD at Edom taking advantage of that helplessness.  Such did not sit well with Jehovah God at all.

“For the day of the Lord draws near on all the nations. As you have done, it will be done to you.  Your dealings will return on your own head. 16 “Because just as you drank on My holy mountain, all the nations will drink continually. They will drink and swallow and become as if they had never existed. 17 “But on Mount Zion there will be those who escape, and it will be holy. And the house of Jacob will possess their possessions. 18 “Then the house of Jacob will be a fire and the house of Joseph a flame; but the house of Esau will be as stubble.  And they will set them on fire and consume them, so that there will be no survivor of the house of Esau,” for the Lord has spoken (Obadiah 1:15-18 NASB).

“The Day of the LORD” points to the Day of God’s Wrath.   “Because just as you drank on My Holy Mountain” is quite literal as well, possibly referring to the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar with the Edomites gloating over the fall of the city and destruction of the Temple and indulging in revelry and profaning with their idolatrous festival the mountain which had been hallowed by God’s Presence.

About 2,500 years ago this prediction was written. Today, no Edomites can be found.   But the symbolic Edom persists and will persist up to the Day of the LORD.  Spiritually, Edom, or the House of Edom, represents all who oppose God and His Plan.

Then those of the Negev will possess the mountain of Esau, and those of the Shephelah the Philistine plain; also, possess the territory of Ephraim and the territory of Samaria, and Benjamin will possess Gilead. 20 And the exiles of this host of the sons of Israel, who are among the Canaanites as far as Zarephath, and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad will possess the cities of the Negev. 21 The deliverers will ascend Mount Zion to judge the mountain of Esau, and the kingdom will be the Lord’s (Obadiah 1:19-21 NASB).

“The Kingdom shall be the LORD’s” refers to the Kingdom which will never end, which was seen by Nebuchadnezzar in his dream of the statue and interpreted by Daniel.

And in the days of these kings shall the God of Heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Forasmuch as you saw that the Stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold, the Great God has made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter; and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure (Daniel 2:44-45 KJV).