I learned today the Edomites were taken down in the 5th century B.C. God used a people called the Nabateans to defeat the Edomites and force them from their main city of Petra. The interval between prediction and fulfillment would, therefore, have been very short, assuming Obadiah was writing following the Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem. When Obadiah prophesied this promise, it was probably thought to be crazy. Judah was the more likely candidate to not survive (that’s only when you take God’s will out of the equation)! The Edomites would later disappear from history completely, marking the total destruction of one of Israel’s enemies.
It always helps me to understand the context of a story to aid in understanding. The Negev region was very dry and hot in the southern part of Judah. The foothills would be found in western Judah. Phoenicia would be an ancient civilization along the Mediterranean, primarily located in modern-day Lebanon.
Obadiah shared God’s promise of the demise of Edom for their inward and outward attacks on his people. We might know people, like those in Edom, who are arrogant, envious, and dishonest. Do you ever feel like hope cannot be found; the world is too far gone?
When I read faith-based books from the mid-20th century (like for instance C.S. Lewis’ works), they were already talking about the world in such dysfunctional terms. It seems evil has been infecting people for centuries and will likely continue until the day promised in this reading.
Edom has been made an example for all of us. They have already paid for their hostility against God’s chosen ones. What about everyone else, the ones who are abusing us? Unless they come to faith in Jesus, their fate is set, and they will not see the glory of God’s kingdom. What a tragedy!
The four themes we’ve encountered in this short book have been (1) Evil will be punished; (2) There is hope for God’s faithful ones; (3) God is sovereign; and (4) God is establishing his eternal kingdom. Those are some powerful promises to cling to. Don’t you love Old Testament prophecy and how it fills us with hope, too?
Reading Obadiah is a good reminder so we don’t turn a blind eye on people who are abusing our Christian brothers and sisters, either. It would be a sin not to rush to their aid to help persecuted Christians.
Being indifferent and not offering help when we know we should, is a perfect example of our reading on sinning in the book of James. Our readings in Obadiah tell us how God feels when innocent bystanders do nothing. We also considered Jesus’ parable of the “Good Samaritan” as well. We have the choice how we respond to what’s happening around us.
Take some time to look around today. Do you see a Christian brother or sister who is taking the heat for their faith? Are there people around the world in need of your financial assistance and/or prayer to help them stand strong in the midst of their persecution? The struggles are everywhere. All we have to do is look.
Ask God to show you how you can help. That’s a good first step. Then be sure to be still and listen for him to respond.
Let’s pray … Father God, your heart must be breaking at the way your people are being treated. I know this is a big problem which makes me feel powerless to help. Forgive me for not taking initiative. Give me eyes to see the needs. Prompt me to take action; I am at your service. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
[Disclaimer: Be ready for God to use you when you ask him like this!]