Saturday, November 20, 2010

Reading Obadiah 15-18

There are two situations that most people, especially we Americans cherish. The first situation is where the underdog scrapes and scraps to victory over bully villains. The second situation is where the bully or villain gets the "justice" he deserves when the dust finally settles. Whether it is cowboys in white hats and black hats or cartoons on Saturday morning we want the good guy, the little guy to win and the bad guy to loose.

So we invent or create Batman, The Green Hornet, Dick Tracy, Sgt. Friday on Dragnet, or Underdog! You remember Underdog don't you?

When when help is needed, I am not slow,
For it's hip-hip-hip and AWAY I GO!!!
Underdog's most frequent saying when he appeared was:
There's no need to fear--
Underdog is here!
The principle of appropriate and divine justice is clearly presented in this section of Obadiah. The Nations and Edom that had played a part in Judah's "calamity" will have a special time set aside for them. That special time will be a time in which the LORD will repay Edom for the wicked treatment of His people.
We have seen Edom's Pride in verses 1-9
We have seen Edom's Problem in verses 10-14
Verses 15-18 Edom's Punishment 
The Edomites should stop treating their brothers so vilely. Why? The day of judgment is near, or close and will rapidly fall upon them. The term "Day of the LORD" is a term used by Obadiah (other prophets) to describe the details of the punishment of God's enemies and the vindication of His people. Verse fifteen is a shocking wake-up call to Edom, "as you have done, it shall be done to you..." As you have committed violent crimes against your brother and treated them with wicked evil, God is going to do the same thing to you. God is going to treat Edom like they treated their brother Judah.
Obadiah shows us just what God means in very colorful yet illustrative language. Edom entered Judah's city gate after Babylon had defeated and ransacked the city. Inside the city Edom "drank the spoils" of the city just like the enemies of God. Obadiah gives us the image of a drunken orgy of defeat that took place when Jerusalem was overrun. God says there will be a day when Edom will "drink" again. This time instead of drinking the spoils of war Edom will drink the wrath of God.
Verse sixteen compares this judgment to drinking an intoxicating liquor. The drunk person's staggering and disorientation is an illustration of the panic and confusion that Edom will experience when God's judgment falls upon them.  The phrase "drink and swallow" gives us the idea that Edom will drink and drink or drink continually. Their judgment is going to be very severe. Edom violated holy ground and God's people which will result in this severity.
This is where we see the bully or the villain get his. Edom treated their brothers cruelly and violently but payback is bad! Now in verses 17-18 we see the second principle that most people cherish and that is seeing the underdog win one, for the Gipper or not.
We see in verses seventeen and eighteen that the city of Jerusalem would experience "deliverance."  The city would once again be a holy sanctuary and dwelling place of God. The LORD will give his people the promised land as their inheritance, "...and the house of Jacob shall possess their own possession." When the remnant is restored one day to the land God will fulfill His promise given to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and even Joshua. In addition to receiving their promised land, the restored remnant will totally wipe Edom out. Obadiah illustrates this like fire which completely burns up or devours stubble or kindling. There will be no survivors of the house or people of Edom.
Now, you know what these verses have said. You should know what they mean. The question is how do we apply them? These three things are critical to interpretation; what does a passage say; what does the passage mean by what it says; and how does the passage apply? 
I must state first that we must be very careful or we will misinterpret this passage. Even though Israel has been "regathered" to its own borders and became a nation in 1948 doesn't fulfill the prophecies related to her return. She has not returned in "belief or faith." Israel is a very secular nation and her regathering is not the total or complete fulfillment of biblical prophecies.
Yet, we know that Edom has been scattered just like Obadiah said it would be. Even though the "Day of the LORD" occurs in verse fifteen, "for the day of the LORD is near," this is not the fulfillment of that great and awful day of God's terrible judgement. You say why do you say this?
First, look at the last phrase of verse fifteen, " near upon all the nations." It is obvious that the nations of the world have not been finally judged and punished by God. That day is still future. 
Second, look at the language of Joel - "...a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness... Amos speaks of the same thing, "...that day will be darkness, not light...will not the day of the LORD be darkness, not light-pitch dark, without a ray of brightness?" (Amos 5:18,20)
Obadiah prophesied about 500 years before Jesus was born. His prophecy was written some 2,000 + years ago. The Day of Judgment has not yet come. Was Obadiah wrong? Is the bible wrong? Can we even understand this? Let me say a number of things.
Second - The Day of the LORD was near for Edom. Edom was judged. Edom's destruction happened about 585 BC.
Third - Obadiah used the word near, or imminent. The judgment is near or close in the sense that it can happen at any moment. imminent or near means "threatening to occur immediately, it is impending." It doesn't mean that it has to happen the moment you hear of it, it can, but it doesn't have to. One must be ready for it at any moment.
God judgment is very near and can fall at any moment therefore we need to be ready for it. This is how God's judgment can be near to the "nations" in verse fifteen and yet have already happened to Edom. Edom's judgment serves as a warning or picture to all the nations of the world that have rejected God and violated His Word.
Fourth - God often uses prophecy with a dual purpose or fulfillment. The most "famous" case of dual prophecy and fulfillment is Isaiah chapter seven.  King Ahaz is afraid of the coalition that has joined forces to fight against Jerusalem. Ahaz has placed his faith or hope for victory in human power and forces rather than in God. The LORD entreats Ahaz to trust Him and ensures Ahaz that Jerusalem will prevail. God then asks Ahaz to ask Him for a sign that would strengthen Ahaz's faith. Hypocritically refuses to ask God for a sign. The LORD gives Ahaz a sign regardless. What was that sign?
The sign was that a virgin would conceive and bear a son who would be named Immanuel. The conception, birth, and naming of this child would confirm God's promise to Ahaz. Now, who does this sign refer to? Since we sing about it in Christmas Carols, put on plays, skits, and programs involving it, and make it a central part of "Christmas" we say it refers to Jesus Christ. Mary, a virgin, prior to sexual relations with Joseph was discovered to be pregnant. Having been married by Joseph, left sexually untouched by her husband (until after Jesus' birth - she had 4 more sons and at least 2 daughters) she delivered a baby boy whom was called Immanuel in the sense that God is now with man on earth.
This sign was given to Ahaz some 700 years before Christ was born. Would this make sense to him? No! The battle would be long over and Ahaz would have been long dead before Jesus was ever born. This sign, this prophecy was used by God to carry a dual meaning. A virgin whom Ahaz knew would conceive a child - as well as Mary as a virgin would be with child - this virgin would deliver a baby boy - just as Mary delivered a baby boy - and this virgin would name the baby Immanuel - just as Jesus was considered to be God with us - and Ahaz would witness this giving evidence of the validity of God's word.
Judgment on the nations of the world is imminent, it can happen any moment. Nations -  be prepared, be ready, God will judge you at any moment! Edom - that shoe has dropped, God has already judged them in 585 BC.
30 Days of Thanksgiving
I am thankful for animals. God has been very creative in the design and function of animals and very gracious in giving them to us for various purposes. I thank God that He has given us some animals for food, some for clothing, some as "beasts of burdens." I especially thank God that He allows us to enjoy his creative imagination, variety, and glory in the animals He allows us to make part of our family. I enjoy the creative power of God in the two cats, Theophilus and Coco that we have. I take equal joy in God's creative power in the Fi Fi our miniature poodle. I confess that there are times I enjoy them selfishly for my own pleasure. They make me laugh and cause me to enjoy them and love them. When I stop to clearly think about it however, I am enjoying God's handiwork which causes God to be enjoyed and His glorious character manifested through the variety of species we call dogs and cats. Thank you Lord!


welcome to my world of poetry said...

Another interesting post Gregg.
Also the part about the animals, I just adore cats and dogs, but not allowed to have pets where I live, shame really because we had a dog for 16 yrs and a cat for 14 yrs.

Enjoy your Sunday.


It's amazing how God can say so much and use so few words to say it. We humans are the opposite.

Just take a look at the more than 2000 page Socialized Medical Bill that was recently passed or our tax system in the USA. I could boil them both down to 3 words: "WE ARE DOOMED!"

And a passing thought about underdogs. I think God is the greatest lover of underdogs in the universe! For starters He loves widows, orphans, poor people, the Jews and lost sinners. Maybe that's why some of us are always rooting for the underdog...we learned it from God :-)


Seams Inspired said...

I have really enjoyed this study. :o) Who knew there could be so much packed into 21 verses? This past week's reading had me thinking much on the imminent judgement of God that all nations (including ours) will incur.

It seems more and more like that day is drawing near. There's a lot to be learned in Obadiah and from Edom's actions and punishments. If only all the nations would take heed to this book. Like you said, Edom's prophecy has been fulfilled, but the other nations have yet to see it bestowed upon them.

Thanks for conducting such a great study, Gregg! I thoroughly enjoyed it. :o)

PS...Sorry to be a day late with my response. I spent the entire day raking and mulching leaves. Oh, my achin' back!

Brian Ray Todd said...

Mark 1:14-15 (English Standard Version)Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." Nothing, this side of Heaven, is of any value, except God's tarry of His coming judgement of sin and wrath, if we have not truly repented of our sinful life before our Creator and believed in the gospel of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ unto salvation. How many do not even see this truth today? How many do not even know that they are lost and dying?
John 3:3 (ESV) Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Thank you for proclaiming truth in a secular world that is blind and deceived. You speak the TRUTH in love for the salvation of souls in Jesus' name! God bless you Pastor Gregg - Child of God.