What a way to start out this reading! “The day is near when I, the Lord, will judge all godless nations!” Obadiah has focused up to now on Edom, the long-time rival of Israel. But Edom was not the only nation to rejoice at Judah’s fall. All nations will be judged for the way they have treated God’s people. Has the “day,” referred to here, happened yet?
We know Edom ceased to exist as a nation. That land is now divided between present-day southern Israel and Jordan. This part of Obadiah’s prophecy, then, points toward other nations being judged and destroyed. “Yes, all you nations will drink and stagger and disappear from history.”
Such judgment is mentioned in other Bible texts. The apostle John speaks of judgment day in Revelation 20:12-13: “I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds.” This would suggest that the judgment of the nations, as individuals, is yet to come. What wrath may fall on individuals who have mistreated God’s people?
Jesus speaks of the final judgment in Matthew 25:31-46. As it relates to nations, Jesus says, “All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.” Those nations who have mistreated God’s people will surely be goats. We want to be sheep!
Imagine the significance of Obadiah’s words being heard by God’s people as they returned from exile and saw their beloved lands in ruin. They would have had no hope. Enraged, their anger would burn against the enemies who left them in such a position. To know that God had the “revenge” covered would have lessened the tension.
The words of doom for godless nations would have been soothing to their hearts. God was not going to let all of their pain go to waste. He was not going to let their enemies go free without any punishment. Nobody likes to see the bully win.
If God will do this for his people in those days, imagine what he continues to do for us. I can’t imagine our omnipotent God changing how he feels about those he loves. If nothing else, I can only imagine his love has grown deeper for those who stand strong despite the world’s messages that our allegiance to Jesus’ kingdom is ridiculous. Being a person of faith in Jesus these days is not easy.
As God’s people, we are still under attack. Our foe may not be Edom, but evil is manipulating other distractions to harm and distract us. We need to stand strong, firmly focused on the grateful trust we have for our king, Jesus.
Let’s pray … Lord, I know these words were meant to refer to nations who oppressed your people Israel, but I believe you still look out for me, too. Thank you for all you do for me on a daily basis, especially all those battles unknown to me. The peace that washes over me knowing you’ve got my back is amazing. You are my king! In Jesus’ name. Amen.