Friday, February 12, 2016

The Destruction Of Edom

Obadiah 1:1-21

“The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning Edom; We have heard a rumour from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle.” (Obadiah 1:1)

Many scholars have placed Obadiah as a contemporary of Elisha and Elijah, around 850 BC, probably because of the Obadiah who served the Lord in Ahab’s day.   Esau, Jacob’s brother had hated Jacob, and though they later worked things out, Esau’s descendants never to let go of the wrong they felt Jacob had done Esau which resulted in their being conquered by Israel.   The prophecy mentions the Edomites turning on Israel, which didn’t happen until II Chronicles 28, so I believe the correct date is much later.  Another Obadiah is mentioned about a hundred years later, in II Chronicles 34, who may or may not have been the prophet.   Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel made similar prophecies against Edom, from about 700 BC to about 550 BC. 

“Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised.  The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?  Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD.” (Obadiah 1:2-4)

Even at its peak, Edom had never been a large country.   They lived in a rocky mountainous semi-desert region which made it hard for large enemy forces to fight effectively.  When they broke away from Judah and began to ally themselves with other countries they were very confident of their own power.  God said he would destroy them.     

“If thieves came to thee, if robbers by night, (how art thou cut off!) would they not have stolen till they had enough? if the grapegatherers came to thee, would they not leave some grapes?   How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up!  All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border: the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee; they that eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee: there is none understanding in him.”  (Obadiah 1:5-7)

If Edom were attacked by thieves, they would only take the things they wanted, leaving the rest.  People picking fruit or grapes invariably miss some.  When God judges Edom, nothing will be missed.  The countries Edom had allied themselves to would turn on her and destroy her at their leisure, using the things they learned from their alliance to take everything, with no concern for the Edomite people. 

“Shall I not in that day, saith the LORD, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau?  And thy mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter.  For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.  In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them.” (Obadiah 1:8-11)

When God’s judgment comes, the entire Edomite culture will be destroyed and their fighting men killed.  As a result of their turning on Israel and Judah when they were attacked and helping their enemies, ignoring the relationship between them, the Edomite nation would be completely wiped out forever. 

“But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress.  Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity; Neither shouldest thou have stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his that did escape; neither shouldest thou have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress.” (Obadiah 1:12-14)

The Edomites had never forgiven Israel for the wrongs they had done.  When Israel was struggling, and being defeated, the Edomites had laughed at the, and taken advantage of their defeats to attack and steal from them as well, cheering on their enemies.  When the Jews tried to escape, they had blocked their escape routes and assisting the Babylonians and others in capturing all the people of Jerusalem.   

“For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.  For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been.” (Obadiah 1:15-16)

God’s judgment would come, and when it did, they would be punished for what they had done.  That Israel had done it to their ancestors would not excuse their actions.  In Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus warns, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  God will judge those people for their sins who have hurt us.  Holding grudges will just result in us being judged ourselves. 

“But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.  And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it.  And they of the south shall possess the mount of Esau; and they of the plain the Philistines: and they shall possess the fields of Ephraim, and the fields of Samaria: and Benjamin shall possess Gilead.” (Obadiah 1:17-19)

Israel will be delivered from captivity and regain their land.  The Edomites will become fuel for a fire the Jews start, with Edom being completely wiped out.  People from the south will take their land and people from the plains areas will invade and conquer the Philistines and control Samarian and Ephraim, and the little tribe of Benjamin will control the area east of the Jordan. 

The  Babylonian captivity left Israel largely uninhabited and the Edomites seized a lot of the land, but were defeated and conquered by the Nabateans, an Arabic group who began to take over the Edomite lands about 550 BC, building several major cities, including Petra.  Nehemiah 2:20 describes the initial alliance between the Arabians, the Horites9Edomites), and the Ammonites that would become known as the Nabateans to modern historians.  Ultimately, the entire Edomite culture was wiped out.   Later the Jews would become bitter enemies of the Nabateans. Under Jonathan, (ca. 103-76 BC), also known as Alexander Jannaeus, a descendant  of the Macabbes. the Jews would occupy Gilead and Moab, which were at the time Nabatean lands, fulfilling  another part of Obadiah’s prophecy. 

“And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; and the captivity of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the south.   And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD'S.” (Obadiah 1:20-21)

The Jews who return after the captivity will possess the land of Canaan as far north as Zarephath, between Tyre and Sidon.    The Jewish captives from Jerusalem who had been carried away to Sepharad, in Asia Minor, , the area around the river Kur, will possess the southern area known as the Negeb.  In that day Israel will be God’s kingdom.  while these have been partially fulfilled, the complete fulfillment will not come until the Lord’s return.  

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