What can the shortest book in the Old Testament, Obadiah, teach us about the story of Jacob and Esau, the war between flesh and Spirit, current events, forgiveness, judgment and the ongoing conflict in the Middle East? A lot, as it turns out. You will be surprised at how relevant and applicable this short section of Scripture is to our world today.
The Book of Obadiah, part 2: There's More There Than You Think
The Book of Obadiah, part 1: Learning from Esau Why We Need to be Jacob
I am pumped about what we get to do today, because I love taking sections of Scripture that you guys think have absolutely zero application to your life…frankly, probably a place in the Bible that 98 percent of you in this room have never read…teaching it to you, and showing you how incredibly relevant something like the book of Obadiah is. Who even knew there was a book called Obadiah in your Bible? Well, after today you will.
I'm not going to tell you to turn to Obadiah. I'm going to tell you to turn to the table of contents, find out what page it's on, and go to Obadiah. Just get to Psalms and Proverbs and hang a right and get past Hosea and Amos, and you're getting close. It is the shortest book in your Old Testament, and I thought it would be a great book to teach this morning, because it fits well on the heels of what we just worked through.
God takes very seriously our commitment to work through conflict with one another, and what you have in the book of Obadiah is generational conflict that leads to immense judgment and even extinction. It is the story of Jacob and Esau played out through the centuries. What I'm going to do is give you a little bit of history and help you understand the way you study books like Obadiah.
The way you pull meaning out is you find out what in the world the original intent of the author is, what the primary message is he's communicating to the people who were intended to receive that message, and what you do then is you go and find out what the timeless truth is in the context of the current historical setting we're describing, and we leave the historical setting there, and we take that timeless truth and bring it over and apply it into our setting.
That's how you study your Bible. You get the message, you understand the context, but then you say, "Okay. So that's how that applied to them in that generation, but we know that God doesn't change. He's the same yesterday, today, and forever. He never changes. So is there application for us?" What I'm going to tell you is that something that was going on about 3,000 years ago… When God is involved, it makes it incredibly relevant to you.
Here's the way you can forever remember what Obadiah is about: "O bad Edom," says Obadiah. Edom is a group of folks that lived southeast of Israel. Let me show you a map. This is why your maps matter. You want to get a setting of where this was taking place. You're going to see the Mediterranean Sea on your left, which is the west, and then as it comes down, you'll see Moab, and then down below Moab you see Edom.
If you went down where Amalek is more to the left, that's where Egypt shows up. That helps you understand. That's the top northeastern corner of Africa. I'm not going to spend much time here, but you see the Dead Sea. Edom was a very, very powerful place in ancient history, because from Egypt, as you worked your way down for what would be the bottom left-hand of that map up toward the east side of the Dead Sea, making your way up toward Ammon and Geshur and up toward Aram and Syria, there was what was called the Transjordan Highway, or the King's Highway.
It was the major trade route that ran north and south from all of the riches that were in Africa up north to the parts of the world that were up there, and if you controlled those trade routes, you could charge all kinds of tolls and you would become a very prosperous people. Now there was something else about Edom that made it a very strong place. If you looked at Edom, Edom looked like this from a broad view.
It was about 30 to 40 miles wide, about 100 miles long, and was made up of a mountainous region. The reason I show you that is because set inside those mountains, that red rock, there was what's called a siq. A siq is basically a throat. It is a long, narrow passageway that was 300 to 600 feet high and, at times, only 10 to 15 feet wide. It was the only way into the capital of Edom, which is called Petra, which we know means rock.
You can see as you walk your way through… Let me just show you. It's about 300 to 600 feet high at certain parts. You keep going into the very capital of that city. I'll show you a picture. Look at how narrow it is right there. Scholars said 15 men could hold off 15,000, because it didn't really matter how big your army was. You could only get so many guys right there to the point of contact, and that thing was a mile long.
So an ancient city that was carved into the rock… I'll show you what they did. That is not a building; that is the rock they actually carved their treasury and other great buildings into. They just took that face and dug into it, often in very ornate ways. If you go today to Jordan, Petra is uninhabited. Edom is uninhabited, but the city is now one of the major tourist areas in southern Jordan. People want to go there and see this incredible city that folks cannot believe existed 3,000-some-odd years ago.
You're kind of like, "Really. So how's that going to change my life?" Check it out. Here we go. What you need to know about Edom is Edom was named after its founder, who was Esau. You go, "Well, that's interesting. Why would you call a place Edom if the founder was Esau?" Let me show you why. Esau's name means hairy.
In Genesis 25:25 it says, "Now the first came…" As you guys know, Esau had a brother. His name was Jacob. The firstborn was named Esau. Why? " [He] came forth red, all over like a hairy garment; and they named him Esau." They said, "This dude is hairy." Obviously, red hair, which is going to be incredibly, if you will, sovereign in the way red runs throughout all of Esau's life.
Esau was this man's man. In fact, in Genesis another place, you have Jacob saying, "Esau is hairy; I'm clean. I'm a mama's boy. I don't have hair all over me. How am I going to fool my dad?" So they worked out this plan, if you know the story. But look at what happens a little bit later. Esau is a guy who represents the flesh. He was a man's man. If I was told I could be like Esau or Jacob, give me Esau. The reason I say that is because he resonates with me. He was a hunter. He loved the outdoors. He was rugged. He's everything the world wants a man to be.
Jacob was a cook. He was wily. He loved his mama. Let me tell you what was going on. God in his sovereignty was incredibly gracious to both boys, but he said, "I'm going to make a never-ending covenant with Jacob. The blessing I'll pour out on Esau is unspeakably gracious, but I'm going to have a unique relationship with Jacob. Esau, I haven't forgotten you. I want to bless you," just like he does everybody everywhere, but he's going to say, "I'm going to reveal the character of who I am through Jacob."
If you really study Jacob and Esau, neither one of them were good guys, but Esau represents the flesh, and eventually, Jacob gets broken and represents a life that God strives with, that in his grace he reveals himself to. If you remember anything about Jacob, Jacob was incredibly witty, and he was very, very self-dependent and wily in the way he went about bringing prosperity to his life. God had to break Jacob from his self-dependence.
Remember that one night? Jacob had a dream. As kids, we learn the story of Jacob's ladder. Jacob's ladder is the story of God telling Jacob, "Quit trying to become great on your own. You can't be great. Your greatness is tied to your relationship with me. I am always ministering to you." There's this ladder, if you will. Jacob had this dream where there were angels, messengers of God, who were constantly watching over him, ministering to his every need day and night. "Quit trying to become rich and great and powerful on your own. Trust in me."
By the way, same message to Esau. "Esau, you're not witty and intellectual and conniving like your brother Jacob. You are strong and mighty. You are great, but guess what, Esau. Trust in me." There was a moment when Esau cared so little about the blessings of a relationship with God… He had been out hunting, and Jacob had been home cooking. So he came in, and as you know, the firstborn was the one who would typically receive the blessing of a father, but Esau said, "I don't care. The cravings of my flesh are more important than the promises of God."
Look at this Scripture in Genesis. This is where Esau's nickname became "Old Red." Right here in Genesis 25:30. "…Esau said to Jacob [when he came home] , 'Please let me have a swallow of that red stuff there, for I am famished. [I can't wait any longer.] '" Jacob goes, "Well, I'll tell you what. Why don't you give me the blessing?" Which just happened to be God's sovereign commitment to never let go. Esau didn't care much about God's sovereign commitment to never let go. Esau felt like he could get what he wanted on his own.
So for a mess of pottage, for some red stew, he forsook his God. He said, "What good is a promise if I'm going to die?" How many of you have done this? Let me just insert right here. You want some application? All right. Let me talk to my singles community. "If I don't get to have sex soon, I'm going to die." God says, "You're not going to die. I know it feels like you're really hungry, Esau, but you're not going to die."
"But I don't care about the promise of God that he'll take care of me. I don't care that God says sex is not what defines a man. Give me some sex." And off you go, and you forsake God. Now God is not done with you when you do that, but he's done with you when that becomes your adopted attitude toward the goodness of God. You just for a mess of pottage sometimes say, "I don't really care what God's Word says. I don't really care about God's promises. I don't really care about God's concern for me. I'm going to tell God what I need and when I need it."
Can you relate to Esau? I think you can. See, here was the problem. Esau didn't just do that once for some stew; Esau did that his entire life. When it came to how you work through conflict in relationships… "I don't care what God says about how you work through conflict. I want to work through conflict this way. I'm going to tell Jacob, 'Boy, so you tricked me when I was hungry, but you I'm going to intimidate, and I'm going to use anger, and I'm going to get back at you, and I'm going to teach you a lesson, boy.'"
Instead of owning the log in his own eye, which was his own foolish, quick, defaulting of promise, and saying, "Lord, that was a stupid and foolish thing to do. Would you forgive me? I'm glad you're going to be blessing to my brother Jacob, but, Lord, I know you're a great God who's not limited to just blessing one. You'll bless anybody who turns to you, and I come back to you, and I forsake my flesh. I want to be a man who walks with you, as Jacob himself learned to walk with you."
There's a very interesting section of Scripture which should trouble you greatly. It comes in Romans, chapter 9. Let me read you Romans, chapter 9. "For this is the word of promise…" He said this to Abraham. "At a certain time I'm going to come, and Sarah will have a son." Sarah was the old wife of Abraham, and Abraham, by the way, was a guy who didn't believe God could provide, so he had to do what seemed right to him.
So he took another woman, Hagar, and had a child by her so that God could accomplish what God said he was going to accomplish. "I don't know how God is going to bring me forth a son from Sarah. She's 90 years old." It makes all the sense in the world to me…unless God is involved and God says, "I'll bring you forth a son of promise from Sarah. I don't need your help, Abraham."
Every time you try to help God out by going your own way and doing your own thing, there is a price to pay. See also today's Arab-Israeli conflict. It stems right from that moment where Abraham was going to help God out. Trace it back. Anyway, he said, "I'm going to bring forth this son of promise." Here we go.
"And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man…" This is Rebekah, the wife of Isaac, the son of promise. "…our father Isaac; for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, 'The older will serve the younger.'" That's just the way it's going to be.
"Just as it is written, 'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.'" You go, "Wait a minute. How can God hate Esau? Esau has no fault of his own." Because God hated Esau. I'm going to teach you on this."What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, ' *I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.*' So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy."
I did a series on the book of Malachi, and when we taught through Malachi, in chapter 1, verses 1-5, I taught through what "Jacob I loved, Esau I hated" means. All Romans 9 is is quoting Malachi 1:1-5. All Malachi 1:1-5 is is an illustration of why the book of Obadiah was written. Here's Malachi 1:1-5. Look at what it says.
"The oracle of the word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi. 'I have loved you,' says the Lord." Talking now to Israel."But you say, 'How have You loved us?'" God responds."'Was not Esau Jacob's brother?' declares the **** Lord ***. 'Yet I have loved Jacob; but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains…'"* Remember Edom? I'll tell you why in a second. **"…his mountains a desolation and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness."
If you go to Edom today, guess who's living there: tourists and jackals. But you go to the land of Jacob, and who's living in Jacob's land today? Jacob. Why? See, here's what happened. Esau was, later in his life, a guy that even though he continued to depend on his flesh, God gave him chance after chance. Esau became the father of kings, and those kings went out and conquered different regions, and one of the regions they conquered was the area of the Horites.
The leader of the Horites was a guy named Seir, whose name also, interestingly, meant hairy or rugged, maybe because of the mountain terrain. But there were red rocks and a rugged area, and Esau's descendants, who were rugged men, loved this area. They went and defeated Seir of the Horites and took over that region and dwelt there for generations. While they were there, they became a great nation, and God was thrilled with that, because he loves to bless people.
The problem is that as their nation became greater and greater, they defaulted back to where they were to begin with, which was to say, "We don't need God. We will live the way we want to live when we want to live there, and on top of not needing God because we ourselves are strong, look at what we have conquered: the most strategic place on the Transjordan Highway. It's the beginning of the toll road.
Not only have we conquered this area, but there's no way they're going to get in and conquer us. We have a mile-long entrance to our city that's 600 feet high and sometimes 10 feet wide, and we're studs to begin with. Bring it!" So God brings it. See the book of Obadiah. If you remember back and you know your Bible, which I hope you do, there was a time, while Esau was prospering, when Jacob was living as a slave in Egypt, yet God had made a promise to Jacob that he wouldn't forget him.
So at the appropriate time, he raised up a deliverer, and they started to make their way out of Egypt, up to the land of promise. In order to get to the land of promise on this highway, this Transjordan Highway… That's the easiest place for two million people to go, so they go, "Good news! It's our brother who runs the beginning of the tollway."
But that brother did not care about brotherhood, and he didn't care about God and the fact that Moses said, "I don't know if you've heard the news, but the God of our father Jacob has been busy lately, and even though it seems like for 400 years he has forgotten us, he clearly hasn't. See also the most powerful man on the face of the earth being humiliated through these 10 plagues. I mean, the story is long. I'll tell it to you if you want to know it, but anyway, he has something good working. We just want to pass through." Look at what it says in Numbers. Check this out in the book of Numbers. It tells us that at this moment, this little interaction happened:
"From Kadesh Moses then sent messengers to the king of Edom: 'Thus your brother Israel has said, "You know all the hardship that has befallen us; that our fathers went down to Egypt, and we stayed in Egypt a long time, and the Egyptians treated us and our fathers badly. But when we cried out to the Lord , He heard our voice and sent an angel and brought us out from Egypt; now behold, we are at Kadesh, a town on the edge of your territory. Please let us pass through your land. We will not pass through field or through vineyard…"'"
Because even though it was a mountainous region, there were fertile valleys all packed into this beautiful 100x30-square-mile area. So there was a fortress of strength and fertile provision. They said, "Look. We're not here to drink your water. We're not here to eat your food. We just want to pass through the King's Highway. We won't turn to the right or to the left until we pass through your territory."
"Edom, however, said to him, 'You shall not pass through us, or I will come out with the sword against you.' Again, the sons of Israel said to him, 'We will go up by the highway, and if [our livestock does anything, we'll pay the price] .'""We just want to pass through. We're not asking for the brother deal, the brother-in-law deal. We just want to go through." He said, "Forget it. We'll come out against you." So Jacob had to walk all the way around.
See, here's the thing. Esau scoffed at the Israelites. Now here's the problem. When you scoff at the Israelites, you're scoffing at the God of the Israelites. Esau still didn't care about this spiritual world, about this God who existed, who makes promises and delivers. In effect, he's not saying to two million slaves, "Bring it." He's saying, "And tell your God to bring it right through our siq, and I'll show you how to sic 'em," in effect.
So this is what God says. Are you ready to study the book of Obadiah? Check it out. "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…'"** God decides the date that you will go down, and it's time now for them to go down.
For generations, hundreds of years, God had been for Esau. He'd prospered Esau. He reminded Esau of the promise of Jacob. "I want to be a faithful God to you, Esau. Just participate with me in my kingdom program." Esau said, "I don't really care about God. I have my fortress. I have my own way. I don't need God, and I certainly don't need the hassle of two million Jews who are slaves, not brothers, walking through my land."
So God says, "Guess what. Time is up. I'm through waiting for you." This is why, by the way, Malachi and Romans say, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." Let me ask you a question. Was Esau and the Edomites…? Again, Esau's nickname became Edom (red) because he wanted red pottage. He lived in a red land. Edom, the Edomites, sons of Old Red. Over the years, the Edomites continued to have God, in a sense, bless them and call them back, but they didn't come.
Let me ask you a question. Throughout Israel's history, has Israel been a hard-hearted, stiff-necked nation? To this day, have they rejected their brother Joseph who God has put in a position of power and honor, that he could give to them what they could not otherwise get for themselves, that they still do not acknowledge as their brother and still don't know he's going to be the provision through which they will come back into the ultimate blessing? Yes.
But here's the difference between Esau and Jacob. If you go look at how God treated Esau, you'd go, "That is grace upon grace upon grace upon grace." But here's the deal. Eventually, God said, "Time is up, Esau." Nobody who studies that would ever say, "Man, God had a really short fuse with Esau," but what you will say if you look at Jacob is, "Why does God continue to extend grace and patience to the Jews? When's time up for the Jews?"
What's the answer to that? Well, to specific individual Jews and generations of Jews, time has been up a number of times throughout history, most recently in the middle of the last century. Most recently, see what's going to go down in the next couple of months. But he's never going to be done with Jacob's descendants. There's always going to be a remnant, and they're never going to be a land of jackals. There are always going to be Jews, and God is going to one day do for Jacob exactly what he said he was going to do for Jacob.
That doesn't mean we let them do whatever they want to do right now. It means we keep reminding them of who their Father is, and when they walk in relationship with their Father, he'll bless them. He will do what he said he was going to do, but meanwhile, we call them into account, just like we call the Arabs into account, just like we call the Edomites into account. Here's my point: when you watch that God's lovingkindness never ends with Jacob, you go, "Man, he was really good to Esau, but compared to Jacob, he hated Esau," because he'll never stop loving, which means reaching out to, offering grace, redeeming this people.
There came a time where he stopped with Esau. Do you know people like that? By the way, insert yourself here. How many times did you reject God, scoff at God, go for your red mess of pottage until finally he broke you, just like he did Jacob? All of a sudden, there was a limp you couldn't get over, and you met God, and you cried out, "Change me from the deceiver, one who grabs at the heel and gets his way his own way (that's what Jacob means), to Israel, God strives with."
Do you know why I, today, am a person who's secure with God? Not because of anything I do, will do, or could do, but because God strives with me in grace. I look at the way God strives with people who don't know him and his unending seeking of them, yet sooner or later, some of them die apart from knowing him.
Some of them are turned over into a life of deep sin, even though he called them out, and comparably to the way he continued to pursue me until my heart was broken, Wagner he loved, them he hated, but nobody would ever say he didn't seek those people fully. It would just be he sought me until he brought me to brokenness and had me trust in him.
It's a comparative term. "Jacob I loved, Esau I hated." There are descendants of Esau who came to know God, but as a people group, he was done with them. To this day, there are no Edomites. What's really interesting is the Edomites, if you go through the march of nations, when you see Assyria, and then you see Babylon, and then you see Medo-Persia, and then you see Greece who come forward, and then you see Rome…
When the Greeks went in and Hellenized the ancient Near Middle East in about 400 or 300 BC through Alexander the Great in a succession of great military leaders, Edomites became called Idumaeans. You'll find out later that the Idumaeans, who were Jewish in their origin… There was a guy named Herod who was an Idumaean. Stay tuned for that, and watch the way this descendant of Esau treated somebody who was a descendant of Jacob, and you watch who it looks like had the upper hand but who God was with.
I want to tell you what. This book is so rich. Here's the deal. It says, "Behold, I'm going to make you small among nations." Who? "I am," God says. "When I tell you it's your day, it's your day." "…you are greatly despised. 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?'"
Let me insert this. Proverbs 18. He goes, "Not many of you guys have confidence in your rock cleft. Right? No." Watch this. Proverbs 18, a series of verses. It says, "A rich man's wealth is like a high wall in his imagination." In other words, some of us in our prosperity think, "Well, who's going to bring me down? No one can bring me down. I'm well feathered. I'm well protected. I'm diversified." Well, you're not so diversified that death can't bring you down. You're not so diversified that a collapse in the universal world market can bring you down.
Let me tell you something. Let me just leave Edom alone, and let me insert America. Did God send us a message a couple of years ago? He just said, "Let me tell you. If somebody came…" I taught on this, and I hope you go get this message called Sovereignty, Hurricanes, and Terrorism: What They Mean for Us Today. Go check it out. In that, I talk about how if I… This is the problem I have with the Bible.
If I read some 500 years from now that in 2001 the greatest nation in the history of the world was brought down to an absolute standstill by 18 men, I'd go, "That's so stupid. What do you mean their financial markets collapsed because of what 18 men did? What do you mean their great military fortress was penetrated by 18 men? What do you mean the country was brought to the grips of fear by a nation that was no nation but a small group of people that banded together?"
I think what happened in 2001 was a warning shot across our bow. "America, you put 'In God we trust' on your money, and that means nothing to me. You guys say, 'God bless America,' but you don't want me to bless you, because you are an arrogant, fleshly, 'Give us our pottage' people." We are not a spiritual people anymore. We are not a people that seeks God's face, that honors him with our commandments.
Our laws are not rooted in God's sovereign truth. They are rooted in what seems right to man. Who does that sound like? Esau. I think 2001 was his little warning shot across the bow, saying, "Hey, America. You think you're great and strong? On the day that I bring you down, you will go down. Don't tell me about your Pentagon and your World Trade Centers and your military forces and your nukes, because they mean nothing to me."
What they have right here is a nation that said, "God, bring it on. What are you going to do with us?" God goes on to describe what he's going to do. "'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.[It doesn't matter how great you are. I can get to you.]**'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? O how Esau will be ransacked, and his hidden treasures searched out!'"
What God is saying is, "If a thief comes, he's only going to steal what he wants and leave the rest. When people go and harvest, they always leave a few little things around. Men can't find every grape. I'll find every grape. You have hidden treasures in your little rock clefts? Our greatest military forces can't find out where your hidden men are? I know where your men are, and I will find them."
This, by the way, is why you let God be your instrument of vengeance, because when the vengeance of the Lord executes, it is always infinitely more complete and perfect than the vengeance you could bring. God says, "There's going to be a day of vengeance." Do you know what's so amazing? One of the songs we'll sing this July 4 is, "Glory, glory, hallelujah! His truth is marching on." It talks about how God is marching out his wrath of judgment.
It's a song we're singing, saying, "We can't wait for the truth of God to march on in judgment." We sing songs celebrating the justice of God, yet we live as if God doesn't have any real justice. I have to tell you, America. Judgment is coming, and it doesn't really matter how strong and how secure we think we are. If we don't get ourselves aligned back… I will tell you, individuals, you'd better care about who you put in positions of leadership, because you are accountable.
When you sit there and go, "I'm just disillusioned with the whole political process…" Well, the political process is a system God gave us through republic democracy that we can put in place men and women who will lead in subjugation to God's rule, and that is where grace is always found. You can mock and scoff at that all you want. I'll just be there saying, "I told you so" and trying to love those who do what they do to us. It's coming.
It goes on. He says, "'Will I not on that day,' declares the Lord , 'destroy wise men from Edom and understanding from the mountain of Esau?'" Have you been like me? Have you looked at the news media and went, "How in the world can our leaders keep doing this? Who do we think we are? Can't they learn from Greece? Can't they learn from the Euro? Can't they learn from the economic disaster we just had?"
"How do we get out of debt?" "I don't know. Let's get some more debt." Brilliant. And on and on and on we go. We just keep marching. "How do we get along?" "Well, let's just tell everybody they can do whatever they want, even if it's an offense to God. Let's redefine every institution God ever gave us. Let's take God out of schools. Let's take God out of education. Keep on marching." Listen for a second, please.
The problem with America is not America; it's Americans. The problem with America is not Americans; it's churches that are supposed to raise up Christ followers. The problem with America is the dead church…the ineffective, weak, liberal, dead church. That's the problem with America. If we want to change America, let's change this right here. Let's love folks. Let's call them to truth. Let's acknowledge that we've been recipients of grace. Let's keep our behavior excellent among the Gentiles, and let's be humble.
One of the means of judgment is he puts people in a position of leadership who aren't wise or who are so wise they don't need God to correct them. That's what he did to Edom. Have you ever sat there and just went, "Can you believe who's leading us? Can you believe these congressmen, these senators, these governors, these presidents?" I'm not just talking about this administration. Take a glance backward and go, "Are you kidding me?"
It is a form of judgment when he removes wisdom. What is wisdom? The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord, not just in name and Sunday attendance but in practical living. How many of you guys are interested in the book of Obadiah? It is so rich. He goes on, and he basically goes through and just tells Edom through the prophet Obadiah, "You're going to get yours, Edom. The day of the Lord is coming," in verse 15. "It's going to draw near for all of the nations."
"As you have done, it will be done to you. Your dealings will return on your own head. 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." That's exactly what has happened to Edom. You cannot find Edomites, Idumaeans today. They have been assimilated into the Israelis. They've been assimilated into the Arabians. They've been assimilated to where they are no longer a distinct people group. They don't exist. Judgment has come upon them as a people.
Are there still individuals that you can trace back a family tree and get to Esau? Absolutely. But as a people group, God is done with Esau. As individuals, he's never done with anybody, and you should never assume he is. But as a people group, God is still committed to Jacob. See what goes on in verse 17. There's a but. Whenever you see a but in the Bible, you ought to stand back and take a look at it. Remember that. There's a but. It's a statement of contrast. As opposed to Esau, let's check out Jacob.
"But on Mount Zion there will be those who escape, and it will be holy. And the house of Jacob will possess their possessions [as opposed to being ransacked] .""Though they still don't me, they still don't know Joseph is their brother, that Jesus is their King…" I still think judgment is coming for Israel, but God will be their deliverer, and one day they won't look to America or other allies. They will look to God who wants to be their God, and finally, they will recognize them for who they were and for who he is.
"Then those of the Negev will possess the mountain of Esau…" In other words, folks in southern Judah. They're going to go live where Esau lived. "…and those of the Shephelah the Philistine plain…" Which is the Western Bank right there by the Mediterranean Sea. They're going to possess that. " [They will] possess the territory of Ephraim and the territory of Samaria, and Benjamin will possess Gilead."
All he's saying here is, "What I told Abraham in Genesis 12 is going to happen." Who through? The descendants of Jacob. Who are they? Israelis. Who are they? Jews. That's who. "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… The deliverers will ascend Mount Zion to judge the mountain of Esau, and the kingdom will be the Lord's."
If you heard this when you were an Israeli living in a time right there, a Jewish person living in that nation who had been at war with Esau all throughout the monarchy, all throughout David's kingdom, all throughout Solomon's reign, all throughout those succeeding kings, you would go, "When's the day that God is going to get done with Esau? Because it looks like Esau is really entrenched in the rock. It looks like Esau is having his way. When's God going to get it done?"
The answer is he's going to get it done. Obadiah is reminding the people of Israel, "Don't become like Esau to take on Esau. Trust in the Lord. Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Do good. Even though Esau doesn't love you, it is commanded in the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 2, verse 12, 'Do not hate an Idumaean, for he is your brother.'"
God takes sin very seriously. I know you might have family members or coworkers or people who are coming at you in an unrelenting way, and they continue to make it hard for you to love them and forgive them. Guess what God expects you to do. Love them and forgive them. Seek to reconcile them. As much as you are able, be at peace with all men. You know what? Let me just show you. Romans, chapter 12. Two more applications, and then we're done.
In Romans, chapter 12, there's this long section of Scripture that talks about how we should live. Not as Esau, because what Esau does is what seems right to the flesh. Let me ask you a question. Do you ever want to do what seems right to your flesh? I do. Sometimes I think it's better to get angry than it is to let kindness and truth adorn me.
Man, I hate it when I do that. I don't do it for 30 minutes, but I do it in 30-second flashes that leave so much damage, and I just hate it. I'm learning now to make them three-second flashes, and I'm learning to make them no flashes with 30 days between them, but it's a constant battle for me to be a man who lives in the Spirit and not in the way that seems right to me.
You see, what God is saying is "Don't ever become like the world. Todd, you keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles so that when they slander your good behavior in Christ in the day that he comes they will be put to shame, that you did the right thing, that you kept doing the right thing. When the world responds to hate with hate, don't you hate." Here's the way you should live. Romans 12:14 and following.
"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep." By the way, that's not what Edom did. When Jerusalem was ransacked by the Babylonians, the Edomites first looked on, then they laughed, then they jumped in and looted in their weakness, and later they caught them when they were fleeing the city and leased them back to the Babylonians. They did not weep with those who wept. They exploited them, and that's when God said, "It's time."
"Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation." That you know how to work through life and conflict and relationships, that you know how to establish morality. "Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God…"
You'll never steal everything as a thief. You'll never pluck every grape from their vineyard. You'll never find all of their hidden treasures. Just keep loving and doing good, and the wrath of God will show up on the Edoms of this world. "I will repay. But if your enemy is suffering…" Then he talks about heaping burning coals on their head. If they're hungry, feed them. If they're thirsty, give them a drink. Warm them when they're cold. It's going to burn on their heads.
"How can we be so awful and they be so loving?" The answer is you are children of God. Don't be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. The world is going to mock you and laugh at you and call you crazy, but in the end, Jacob, in the end, spiritual people, the world will know whose God is real: the god of the flesh, the god of the world, the god of human strength and temporary success or the God of the Spirit, the God who reigns, the God who is and is to come.
Fast-forward. There was an Idumaean whose name was Herod the Great. He was intimidated by this coming son of Jacob, and he committed genocide, killing every 2-year-old he could in the region. His son, Herod Antipas, became king. He was called the Fox, the wily one, who was wise in his own estimation. He beheaded John the Baptist who said, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord." He was a man who sought himself first, who exploited his brethren, the captive Israelis, under the rule of Rome for his own aggrandizement.
Herod Antipas reigned as a king. He was an Idumaean, reigning over the sons of Jacob. In fact, he took one of the sons of Jacob, a faithful son, a son full of the Spirit, full of grace and truth, and he mocked him. Under his watch, he had him beaten. Under his watch, he had him crucified. Herod said, "I will do what exalts me." This Son of Jacob said, "I will do what serves my brethren." Herod said, "I will crucify you." He said, "You won't crucify me. You have no power except by my Father in heaven."
Herod won. Jesus was destroyed. Jesus apparently lost. He was in the grave. Later, Herod was exiled when Rome brought judgment on that land that he reigned over, and the one who was exiled to the grave was risen from the grave and seated at the right hand of God the Father and given the name above all names, that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.
I know some of you are looking out there right now and saying, "How come the dadgum Edomites are having their way? How come the guys who compromise at work, who cheat on their wives are having all the fun under the consequence, and I am loving my family, I am stewarding generously, I am living ethically, and I'm getting depleted and living a sparse life and not having all of the momentary pleasures of Esau?"
God says, "Esau's story isn't done being written yet, and neither is yours. You take up your cross and follow me. There will be a day that the King of Jacob, the King of Esau will judge rightly, and you will be glad that you followed me." Are you a Jacob who learns that God is good and you trust him even though it looks like the cross is not fair or are you an Esau who wants to step on the head and reign in your fleeting moment and scoff at eternity? "I don't need God. Give me the pottage." You'll get your pottage, and it will be a significant wrath.
Father, thank you for this book. If stinkin' Obadiah is this relevant to us, might we spend time reading the rest of it. Would you forgive us that we are people who sing about the fact that we know you and yet we often live as Esau lived and do as Esau did? Would you forgive us, Lord? Would you make us like Christ who, when he was reviled, reviled not in return and when he suffered did not utter threats, but because he believed that you are God and you are good, he kept entrusting himself to you.
Even when he gave up his spirit, he knew that even death doesn't mean loss, because death has lost its victory, the grave has lost its sting. You rule, Father, even when the world laughs at the foolish believers. You reign, and you will resurrect the righteous, and you will judge the living, arrogant kings and the dead ones. May we walk with you. We pray for our leaders. May they fear you and be wise men. We pray for the dead church; therefore, we pray for us, that we would speak the truth and put our hope in the God of Jacob. For his glory and our good we pray, amen.
Go read your Bible. We'll see you.