Red Alert! Obadiah’s Prophecy to Edom

When a storm rolls in, to me, it is a thing of fearful wonder.  If I can, I like to watch it pass by, from a safe vantage point  appreciate it’s power.  To be in the midst of a storm, is another thing all together.  During my early college years, I was driving in the Adirondacks when a strong thunderstorm hit.  It was hard to see the lines before me, outside of the windshield being pelted by the torrential rain.  Then there it was, a funnel cloud, descending just to the right of the road.  My wonder was put on hold as I fearfully sped up to avoid being anywhere near that imminent destructive force.

When God’s wrath rolls in, it is utterly terrifying.  No safety is to be found if you’re the object of God’s wrath.  This was the case for Edom, a nation with a violent relationship with their brother nation, Israel.  The prophet Obadiah, received a message from God and delivered the message of their fate generations ago.

Today, we’ll read the entirety of this shortest book in the Old testament, 21 verses, I’ll highlight the historical background and the we’ll wrestle the good wrath of God.

— Obadiah —

The vision of Obadiah. Thus says the Lord GOD concerning Edom: We have heard a report from the LORD, and a messenger has been sent among the nations: “Rise up! Let us rise against her for battle!” Behold, I will make you small among the nations; you shall be utterly despised.

The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in your lofty dwelling, who say in your heart, “Who will bring me down to the ground?” Though you soar aloft like the eagle, though your nest is set among the stars, from there I will bring you down, declares the LORD.

If thieves came to you, if plunderers came by night— how you have been destroyed!— would they not steal only enough for themselves? If grape gatherers came to you, would they not leave gleanings? How Esau has been pillaged, his treasures sought out!

All your allies have driven you to your border; those at peace with you have deceived you; they have prevailed against you; those who eat your bread have set a trap beneath you— you have no understanding. Will I not on that day, declares the LORD, destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of Mount Esau?

And your mighty men shall be dismayed, O Teman, so that every man from Mount Esau will be cut off by slaughter. Because of the violence done to your brother Jacob, shame shall cover you, and you shall be cut off forever. On the day that you stood aloof, on the day that strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them.

But do not gloat over the day of your brother in the day of his misfortune; do not rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their ruin; do not boast in the day of distress. Do not enter the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; do not gloat over his disaster in the day of his calamity; do not loot his wealth in the day of his calamity. Do not stand at the crossroads to cut off his fugitives; do not hand over his survivors in the day of distress.

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.

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.

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. 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.

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. 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.Saviors shall go up to Mount Zion to rule Mount Esau, and the kingdom shall be the LORD’s.

(Obadiah 1:1-21)

~ The history in short begins with a family feud over birthright setting the stage for generations of animosity and ends with a nation being erased from the face of the earth.

The Origin: Disregarding God’s Ways

The Brothers Estranged: Jacob & Esau

Gen_25:25  The first came out red, all his body like a hairy cloak, so they called his name Esau.

Gen_25:30  And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.)

Gen_36:1  These are the generations of Esau (that is, Edom).

Gen_36:8  So Esau settled in the hill country of Seir. (Esau is Edom.)

Word Notes: “Red” Edom, “Hairy” Seir

Esau gave up his birthright to stay alive, fulfilling only his temporary appetite.  This birthright was a special gift from God but it was casually rejected! The disagreement led to the firstborn, Esau, wanting to kill his sinful brother.  They eventually made up after Jacob sought forgiveness and went their separate ways to father nations.

The Nations on Edge: Israel & Edom

Num_20:14  Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom: “Thus says your brother Israel: You know all the hardship that we have met:

Num_20:18  But Edom said to him, “You shall not pass through, lest I come out with the sword against you.”

Num_20:20  But he said, “You shall not pass through.” And Edom came out against them with a large army and with a strong force.

Num_20:21  Thus Edom refused to give Israel passage through his territory, so Israel turned away from him.

Jdg_11:17  Israel then sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, ‘Please let us pass through your land,’ but the king of Edom would not listen. And they sent also to the king of Moab, but he would not consent. So Israel remained at Kadesh.

Num_24:18  Edom shall be dispossessed; Seir also, his enemies, shall be dispossessed. Israel is doing valiantly.

2Sa_8:14  Then he put garrisons in Edom; throughout all Edom he put garrisons, and all the Edomites became David’s servants. And the LORD gave victory to David wherever he went.

1Ki_9:26  King Solomon built a fleet of ships at Ezion-geber, which is near Eloth on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom.

1Ki_11:14  And the LORD raised up an adversary against Solomon, Hadad the Edomite. He was of the royal house in Edom.

2Ki_8:20  In his days Edom revolted from the rule of Judah and set up a king of their own.

The relationship between these nations reached a despairing point, when Israel was being invaded, Edom actively cheered and participated in the rounding up of and murdering those trying to escape from invaders.

How Shall We Sing the LORD’s Song?

1By the waters of Babylon,

there we sat down and wept,

when we remembered Zion.

2On the willowsa there

we hung up our lyres.

3For there our captors

required of us songs,

and our tormentors, mirth, saying,

“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

4How shall we sing the LORD’s song

in a foreign land?

5If I forget you, O Jerusalem,

let my right hand forget its skill!

6Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,

if I do not remember you,

if I do not set Jerusalem

above my highest joy!

7Remember, O LORD, against the Edomites

the day of Jerusalem,

how they said, “Lay it bare, lay it bare,

down to its foundations!”

8O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed,

blessed shall he be who repays you

with what you have done to us!

9Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones

and dashes them against the rock!

From <http://biblehub.com/esv/psalms/137.htm>

Psalm 137

This is not a passage, I’d feel comfortable sharing on Facebook.  The imagery is intense! Such were the feelings of this oppressed people longing for a return to their homeland.  They would not forget Edom’s wicked actions nor would their God.

Edom was regularly against God’s people, Israel.  Their day of judgement was coming.

The Offense: Active Disregard for God’s people

~ To summarize Edom’s sins, they were a proud people that took advantage of the weak.

The vision of Obadiah. Thus says the Lord GOD concerning Edom: We have heard a report from the LORD, and a messenger has been sent among the nations: “Rise up! Let us rise against her for battle!” Behold, I will make you small among the nations; you shall be utterly despised.

Proverbs 16:18  Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

  • In Geography/Position – Petra – high rock fortress with narrow canyons

Subdued!

The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in your lofty dwelling, who say in your heart, “Who will bring me down to the ground?” Though you soar aloft like the eagle, though your nest is set among the stars, from there I will bring you down, declares the LORD.

  • In wealth/riches – good partnerships for trade

Spoiled! –

If thieves came to you, if plunderers came by night— how you have been destroyed!— would they not steal only enough for themselves? If grape gatherers came to you, would they not leave gleanings? How Esau has been pillaged, his treasures sought out!

  • In Mind/Cunning – Known for their wise men but tehy would be fooled by allies

Stabbed in the back!

All your allies have driven you to your border; those at peace with you have deceived you; they have prevailed against you; those who eat your bread have set a trap beneath you— you have no understanding. Will I not on that day, declares the LORD, destroy the wise menout of Edom, and understanding out of Mount Esau?

  • In Strength/Might – A strong people

Slaughtered!

And your mighty men shall be dismayed, O Teman, so that every man from Mount Esau will be cut off by slaughter. Because of the violence done to your brother Jacob, shame shall cover you, and you shall be cut off forever.On the day that you stood aloof, on the day that strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them.

Consider these divine upsets

The Proud are humbled, The Rich are shown to be poor, The Wise are shown to be fools, The Strong are shown to be weak.  God sets things right with a process that turns upside down the thoughts and ways of mankind.

The Observation:  A warning of God’s judgment

The prophet next warns others to be careful of their own heart – Check yourself that you do not follow the pattern of Edom!

But do not gloat over the day of your brother in the day of his misfortune; do not rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their ruin; do not boast in the day of distress. Do not enter the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; do not gloat over his disaster in the day of his calamity; do not loot his wealth in the day of his calamity. Do not stand at the crossroads to cut off his fugitives; do not hand over his survivors in the day of distress.

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.

“To be sure, the idea of God’s anger and wrath is not popular in many circles today. Critics, however, fail to understand that the Lord could not be meaningfully righteous, good, holy, or merciful if He did not pour out His wrath on evil. A good being hates what is evil, and mercy only makes sense if there is an undeserving person to whom mercy can be shown. In any case, let us always remember how our Creator’s anger is not subject to the same imperfections and sin of our ire. God is never sadistic, tired, or irritable. He is not a short-tempered hothead. Since He is perfectly righteous, His anger is always righteous and good (Ps. 97:6)”

From <https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/gods-furious-anger/>

Repentance? Grace? Mercy? Where are those qualities, we find comfortable about God?  They are not found here for Edom.  His love calls for justice, His goodness pours out in judgement against a wicked people.  This evil no longer exists in the wake of God’s wrath.

This good wrath of God can be hard to accept.  I reminds me of a artwork, an iconic wood block print, made by a Japanese artist, portraying a giant foamy wave overshadowing Mount Fuji The Great Wave off Kanagawa  In the perspective, of it’s viewer, the mountain seems it will be consumed by the wave.  In reality, we know a mountain remains unchanging and a wave returns to the sea.  So it is with the judgment of God.  A perspective in modern thinking can shadow the goodness of God, like the wave to the mountain.  But God remains unchanging in his goodness, it is us who need a changed of perspective if we cannot accept God’s ways in the world.

From <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Wave_off_Kanagawa>

Time ran out to repent and accept the good gifts of grace and mercy that God may have had for Edom.  It will one day run out too for the rest of the nations as the prophets reminds, so mind your deeds and be patient child of God. Our time is limited to live in God’s ways.  All intents and actions will be judged one day by Him.

An Optimistic Future for the Faithful

Utter destruction!

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.

The chosen return, you will not!

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. 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.

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. 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.Saviors shall go up to Mount Zion to rule Mount Esau, and the kingdom shall be the LORD’s.

God was reorganizing borders and eliminating Edom from national existence.

What can we glean from this passage?  Let’s review

Reflecting on the origin of the conflict

The Origin:  Esau gave up his inheritance to feed his appetite.  As the firstborn, Esau, sought to kill his sinful brother.

Consider this:  Jesus gave up his life to gain His inheritance.

Col 1:15  He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

Col 1:16  For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

Col 1:17  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Col 1:18  And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.

Col 1:19  For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,

Col 1:20  and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Col 1:21  And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,

Col 1:22  he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,

Col 1:23  if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

As the firstborn of all creation, Jesus, chose to die for you to make you his brother.

Reflecting on the offense toward God and his people by Edom

The Proud are humbled, The Rich are shown to be poor, The Wise are shown to be fools, The Strong are shown to be weak.

As one’s who have actively offended God ourselves, repentance is the path opposite of Edom and the ways of this World.

Repentance involves

Humbling yourself before God. Recognizing your own poor moral character. Turning from foolish thinking  and admitting your weakness

The benefits of repenting and following Christ include:

Being exalted in God, Being rewarded with the rich righteousness of Christ, Gaining wisdom from above and being strengthened in the midst of your weakness.

By observing God’s judgment on Edom we see:

Edom was regularly against God’s people, Israel.  Their day of judgement was set.

This world is regularly against God’s people, the church.  It’s day of judgment is coming too.  Wait patiently for God’s judgement but don’t rejoice in it for the wicked, mourn for them.

Time ran out to repent and accept the good gifts of grace and mercy that God may have had for Edom.  It will one day run out too for the rest of the world. Our time is limited to follow in God’s ways.  All intents and actions will be judged one day by Him. As Revelation vividly describes:

Rev 20:11  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.

Rev 20:12  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.

Rev 20:13  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.

Rev 20:14  Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

Rev 20:15  And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

To be immersed in liquid fire is one of the most painful pictures God uses, so we can try to understand what it feels like to be completely separated from Him.  This is the prophetic end for those not in the book of life.

An optimistic future awaits;

The phrase “Red Alert” comes from the naval tradition of “General Quarters” (“Action Stations” if you’re British), where a ship prepares for battle. Much of the procedures are the same. The alert is sounded by a drum or over an intercom. Off-duty sailors report to their stations, cannons are loaded, and the decks are cleared of non-essential items.

From <https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-origin-of-the-phrase-red-alert>

 

God reordered the boundaries of nations, he too will reorder this earth.  His kingdom will come.  Consider this message from Obadiah, as

bright red warning lights!  God’s love powers these flashing red lights of prophetic doom.  Don’t ignore them for a temporary peace of mind, when peace with God is on the line.

If you find yourself, in your own ways of operating, proud of self, rich in self, wise in self and strong in self, this is what God calls sin.  This may be one of your last chances to turn away from it. Repent today of your own sinful ways, your own self-righteous and accept the only escape from the judgement to come, Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ, the son of God, was send by the Father to pay the penalty for your sin, he is an eternal umbrella from the torrential storm of God’s wrath that is reserved for sinners.  Believe he is the one who can save you and submit your will to his own.  You are now saved from destruction and can pray with God’s people like this.

Mat 6:9  Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

Mat 6:10  Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

If you are a Christ-follower, saved from wrath by the grace of Jesus Christ, the klaxon you hear is not the ‘red alert’ of  your impending doom but a call to “all hands on deck” to save those around the imminent destruction.  You are tethered to the ship that is Christ, so do your best to live, speak the life-preserver of good news of Jesus Christ to rescue those around you.