Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Obadiah 1: 19-21

19Then those of the Negev will possess the mountain of Esau,
And those of the Shephelah the Philistine plain;
Also, possess the territory of Ephraim and the territory of Samaria,
And Benjamin will possess Gilead.
20And the exiles of this host of the sons of Israel,
Who are among the Canaanites as far as Zarephath,
And the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad
Will possess the cities of the Negev.
21The deliverers will ascend Mount Zion
To judge the mountain of Esau,
And the kingdom will be the LORD'S.

Today's lesson brings us to the end of our first book of prophecy in this study! We're looking at Obadiah's closing verses and the conclusion of his forth-telling concerning the day of the Lord. [In teaching us what a prophet's job was, a former pastor used the comparison of foretelling versus forth-telling. Prophets were not sent as fortune tellers, forecasting the future as they saw it. Prophets were men of God, telling forth God's Word revealed by God to them, either for the current time or one to come. Subtle word change makes an enormous difference in meaning.]

I find this a tough passage this week because I get very hung up on place names. Too often, I'll gloss over something and say, "name of a place" in my head without really taking in the importance. So, to the extent I can with my resources, I'm going to try and pull those places apart a bit.

  • "those of the Negev"--the South country--will possess the mountains of Esau (Edom)
  • "those of the Shephelah"--the foothills--will possess the Philistine plain. Philistia is to the West (west of the Salt Sea on the map above)
  • "Ephraim...Samaria"--These territories were to the North (above Damascus)
  • "Benjamin will possess Gilead"--Benjamin is one of the tribes of Israel. Gilead was located to the East (east of the Salt Sea)

We need to go back to last week's verses to put this into context. Verse 17 talked about "those who escape" from the wrath God would bring in the day of the Lord. "And the house of Jacob will possess their possessions [those taken by Edom]." This was part of the fulfillment of a promise first made to Jacob's grandfather, Abraham, and bestowed as part of the blessing upon Jacob by his father, Isaac--who then sent Jacob away to find a wife.

"May He also give you the blessing of Abraham, to you and to your descendants with you, that you may possess the land of your sojournings, which God gave to Abraham."
--Genesis 28: 4

Jacob then has a dream, and God speaks of this promise yet again:

"And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, 'I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants. Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed.'"
--Genesis 28: 13 and 14 (italics mine)

It is God's full intent to restore to His people that which He promised them through His servants. Edom and the surrounding lands would be restored to Israel per God's design. Verse 20 continues, noting that even those who had been in exile--with the Canaanites or of Jerusalem--would also gain possession of the cities of the South country. Zarephath is a town believed to have been between Tyre and Sidon, in what is now Lebanon. Sepharad may have been as far away as Spain, though its exact location is uncertain.

The final verse concludes with mention of "deliverers" who have come to judge. When Jesus comes to reign on earth in the thousand-year period known as "the millennial kingdom", He will appoint other Christians to serve as judges. Not only would Jacob regain its land, but its people would also be called to rule with Christ on the mountain that was Edom, in the final days of earth.

The judges of the Old Testament were mediators of grace to those who sought mercy. Nehemiah 9:27--"But when they cried to You in the time of their distress, You heard from heaven and according to Your great compassion, You gave them deliverers who delivered them from the hand of their oppressors."

Even with Christ on the throne, there will not be compassion shown to those who do not accept Him as Lord. This is His kingdom--His physical earthly reign!

"...Why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, 'AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.' So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God."
--Romans 14: 10-12

Edom faced this "final judgment" before the end times, before our times. They are a people that no longer exist. What is important for us to see is that even though Edom was removed in our history, God's final settlement of this situation--the ultimate restoration of Jacob--is yet to come. As difficult (and depressing) as it is to read Edom's story, we need to take to heart that Obadiah's words--the revelation of God's Word--came to fruition. God's truth and promises prevailed!

Do we believe that this same Word will prevail and that promises yet to be fulfilled one day will? Edom's loss should be our gain if we believe what we read.

Next time, an introduction to The Book of Joel. 'Til next Wednesday!


* * *

Next week: An Introduction to the Book of Joel

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).


Carmen said...

Hi Sue!
Good info here. I love your clarity on foretelling verses forth-telling! So true. Looking forward to Joel!

Edie said...

So much to chew on in this Sue J. I've been thinking about the prophets lately. I love your clarification as well. It's interesting how we often miss that they were hated by many people for their negative forth-telling. If it's negative, often people just don't want to hear it.

The prophets cared more about God's Truth than about even their own comfort. They had a hard job.

I love the point you made that all of God's promises hold true and will be accomplished, even the ones we consider negative. But if we look back at the original promise we find that God provided a blessing with a requirement. He freely blesses us but always expects our obedience as well. He has a right to, He is Yahweh.

Good stuff in here. :)

KelliGirl said...

Sue J.,
I wish I had time to keep up with this study. I have so much to learn about the OT. Know I support you in this journey and am praying that your words bless others meet our Savior in His living word.

BTW...I've been receiving daily Lenten devotions from Dr. Larry Crabb. Each day summarizes a book of the Bible...from Genesis to Revelation. I've found the first few devos on beginning books of the OT REALLY impactful. Here's the website if you want to check it out.