Sunday, December 16, 2007

Obadiah (2)

So who are God's friends. We see a clue in verse 13 when Judah is referred to as 'my people'. There must have been a great cheer when that line was first spoken... We see the flip side of God's opposition to His enemies, to the proud is eventual hospitality to His friends, to the humble and reliant. So who are God's friends?

His people. God will ultimately defend and has won the victory for His people. There was no way around this for Edom, and there's no way around it for us either. In verses 15-17a we see what God will do for those who love and worship Him. He shall judge their enemies, as Edom has done, so it shall be done to them and their lofty perch will be of no help to them. But there will be somewhere to escape...Mount Zion, Heaven, home. It will be holy. Thats where God will take His people. There God's people will rest. And it will be holy. It will be burningly perfectly holy. There will be no more sin, no more judgement, no more betraying brothers, no more of anything that isn't holy and perfect and pure in the eyes of the Lord. Jacob shall possess their own possessions once more, a once for all jubilee.

But there's more. Here, in verse 18 we get a clue that what is being looked ahead to here isn't just the return from the exile, it's not just a temporal revenge on Edom, or on all the enemies of God's people. Verse 18 talks about Joseph, another brother. And his people are in the already fallen northern kingdom, between them, we're told, they will consume the house of Esau. But this didn't happen did it? The northern kingdom didn't return in the same way the southern kingdom did... so what is Obadiah talking about? Surely the very end of time, when Jesus returns for His people, and to make war on sin and sinners, that's when God's will consume His enemies forever.

And God will bring His people home. We see in verse 20 that the exiles of the host of the people of Israel shall possess the land of the Canaanites as far as the Zarepheth. Israel is coming home. They will return from the exile for God has spoken. These words would have been overwhelming for their first hearers. They will return, they will be home again. But is there more again? Well possibly, but there's more work to be done here i think. The Kingdom belongs to the LORD. That's how we know that these things will come to pass. That's what we learn of God. That He is the God of all the nations. That He can sovereignty use Edom to judge Judah and then judge Edom for it's treatment of Judah. And we can't work that out. How can God be just and do that? Well, because He's God, and God is just, and what He does is just.

God judged Judah for their repeated and unrepentant sin against Him. For their self reliance and idolatry. To an extent the same things He would judge Edom for. If Edom was taught by their judgement that God is the LORD of all and that He will be obeyed then the judgement showed Judah that the only way to live is by total reliance on God. Why the difference? Because Judah were the people of God. Despite all their sin against Him, despite seventy long, hard years in exile, they were God's people, and the victory is God's.

So was Obadiah right? Well Edom was destroyed about a century later. Judah returned from Exile. God's people were back. But the temple they built made those who could remember the original temple weep. But it all sounded so glorious, did God change His mind and downgrade the homecoming? No, the real home coming of God's people came years later. He was born in a stable, grew up as a manual labourer and was executed as a criminal. His name was Jesus. The ultimate fulfillment in what God called His people to in the Old Testament is found in Jesus. Any explanation of the Old Testament that doesn't find it's meaning, or work itself out, or look through the lens of Jesus, is going to miss the point.

What did the original readers learn? That God hates pride, He hates sin and He'll judge it absolutely. God has enemies and they will lose. God has friends, and their future is glorious. God's friends are those who will bring Him glory be their liberating, joy filling self reliance on Him. This is what Judah needed to learn, this is what we need to remember. See the result of Edom, see the result of Judah...and cast every hope, every dream and every security on Jesus, because the kingdom is the Lords.

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