Monday, July 10, 2006

Have you read my book?

I was listening to Richard Cunningham: Go last night, from last years Forum, and i can't remember why he got onto it (i was probably too busy laughing at the retreat story!) but he mentioned how neglected some of the 'minor' books of the Bible are. Imagine, he said, meeting Habbakkuk in heaven, and him asking what you thought of his book. Now, to be fair i've recently read and enjoyed Habbakkuk...but what happens if i meet Obadiah in heaven...something like this perhaps:

Obadiah: hi, did you like my book?
Me: ummmm yeh, it was good
...uncomfortable silence...
Me: errrrr have you seen Paul anywhere...i've got some questions...

So today i thought i'd have a bash. It's really short, twenty-one verses, and i'm not sure if i grasped it in totality, but here goes anyway.

Nothing is actually known about the prophet himself, apart from his name, which means 'servant of God'. His book concerns the downfall of Edom who invaded Judah whilst Jerusalem was being defeated by the Babylonians in 587. The Edomites were apprently descendents of Esau, and therefore close in kin to Israel. Indeed Herod the Great, who tried to kill Jesus as a baby was a descendant of Edom, but they seem to vanish from history alltogether after about 70AD.

Verses 1-14
Obadiah starts by denouncing the the pride of the Edomites, who regarded themselves safe in their cliff-top city. The LORD warns them of the judgement to come (v2), and attacks their pride (v3). Edom seems to be one of the perfect examples of a proud people, living proud lives with no reference to God, no respect for His people and no regard for His plans. Obadiah warns them that God will destroy their wisdom and understanding (v8). They will be judged for the violence done to the people of Israel, charecterised in verse 10 by Jacob. Verses 11 to 14 deal with the invasion of Judah, with God handing out some stern warnings about the Edomites conduct. I think God's love for His people shows here as the word 'calamity' is used three times in verse 13.

Verses 15-18
Wow. Judgement. The LORD will do to Edom as Edom has done to others, treating her by her own standards and judging her as such. Those who are saved will be set aprt in Mount Zion. There God's people will regain their posessions (v17). Verse 18 brings us to a particulaly clear picture of judgement. The house of Joshua shall consume Edom as fire consums stubble. Proud Edom will be destoyed and bought to nothing on this day. God's people shall be vindicated and saved by Him. God's word His final, there will be no come back...the LORD has spoken (v18)

Verses 18-21
God's people will be vindicated. They will inhabit more land than Edom can even dream of. Mount Zion shall rule Mount Esau, and the kingdom abd the glory shall belong to the LORD. A great ending for the persecuted faithful.

So, God will defend and vindicate his people. He sees pride, the pride of His people's enemies, and He hates it. He will judge and destroy His enemies, of that we can be sure. They will burn like stubble on that great and awful day. God's ultimate purpose is to build His kingdom for His glory, and nothing will stop this happening. This is a call to repentace. Like so many Old Testament books God's judgement is set out clearly. It's causes (living without reference to God-sin) and result (death). So what are we to do with this little book. Well, as believers to rejoice. Yes, we will face come under attack, but look at God. He does not turn a blind eye to the actions of the Edomites, He hates them, and He will judge. As non flee the oncoming wrath. Not to be like Edom in their pride but to come to God through Jesus for salvation and mercy. Not to be burnt like stubble on that last day...

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