Obadiah: Divine Geopolitics
I went to bed last night, I was asking the Lord about what to write
about. I had not done any real spiritual writing for a week or so and
really did not know what to say. Right away the word Obidiah came to
mind. Its not a book I had read for a couple of years.
book is noteworthy for two reasons. First, this is the shortest book in
the Old Testament, second it is the only book directed exclusively to a
foreign nation (Edom). Little is known about the Prophet himself. His
name means Servant of the Lord. There are divergent traditions about
who he was and when he lived. The most reliable are probably the
Rabbinic Traditions that place him around the time of King Ahab and
make him a descendant of Eliphaz the (the shaky friend of Job). The
words against Edom are very similar, nearly identical to words uttered
by Jeremiah and this has caused some scholars to wonder who was quoting
whom. I stands to reason that Obidiah is probably an older book that
Jeremiah was quoting him in some passages.But it is hardly impossible
that the Lord have the exact same word to each prophet many years apart.
vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning Edom; We have
heard a rumour from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent among the
heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle. Behold, I
have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised. The
pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the
clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart,
Who shall bring me down to the ground? Though thou exalt thyself as the
eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I
bring thee down, saith the LORD. If thieves came to thee, if robbers by
night, (how art thou cut off!) would they not have stolen till they had
enough? if the grapegatherers came to thee, would they not leave some
Lord was very angry with Edom and for good reason. They had become
proud, arrogant and like most who fall for this sin, you can't tell
them anything. But the Lord had was stirring up trouble for Edom whom
no one really liked. As the prophet said, they were greatly despised.
Undoubtedly, their arrogance had become a stumbling block to their
ancient geopolitical relationships. Not only that, but their pride had
deceived them. This is always the stumbling block with those who think
too highly of themselves, they become self-deceived and fall into the
trap of the devil. You see, where the Edomites dwelt was in a region
that was hilly and rocky. They knew that they could hold off a major
Army based upon the terrain and geography. This pride made them believe
they were impregnable to a successful attack. The rocks of Petra were
part of the Edomite Kingdom.
of the Edomites as kind of like children who were playing 'King of the
Mountain' taunting others to 'take me if you can'. The Edomites were
also a very wise and were known for their ability to turn a phrase and
solve riddles. This too contributed to the arrogance of the Edomites.
But as the scripture saith, pride goeth before a fall and
Obadiah was sent to tell the Edomites that they were headed for just
such a fall. How were they to be brought down? The men of their
confederacy were going to do it. In short their allies with whom they
worked with were going to betray them.
have sent thee out even to the border: all the men of thy confederacy
have deceived thee: the men of thy peace have prevailed against thee:
they that eat with thee shall lay snares under thee: there is no wisdom
in him. Shall not I in that day, saith the Lord, destroy the wise out
of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau?
Pride was not the only sin of Edom. It was also the fact that when
Jacob (Israel) was in trouble, they did not help him. The prophet calls
the Edomites and Jacob 'brothers' for a very good reason. Edom, were
descendants of Esau... and Jacob was his twin brother.
the slaughter and for the iniquity against thy brother Jacob, confusion
shall cover thee, and thou shalt perish for ever. In the day when thou
stoodest against him, when strangers carried away his army captive, and
foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem: thou
also wast as one of them. In
ancient days, when they say carry away people captive they mean they
would become slaves, often sold off as such to rich merchants. They
were considered war booty. Later we note how the Edomites were to
intercept the fleeing Jews in order to kill them (vs. 14). But that did
not sum up Edom's sins against his own brother (the Lord was sore
displeased with this).
thou shalt not look on in the day of thy brother, in the day of his
leaving his country: and thou shalt not rejoice over the children of
Juda, in the day of their destruction: and thou shalt not magnify thy
mouth in the day of distress. Neither shalt thou enter into the gate of
my people in the day of their ruin: neither shalt thou also look on in
his evils in the day of his calamity: and thou shalt not be sent out
against his army in the day of his desolation. Neither shalt thou stand
in the crossways to kill them that flee: and thou shalt not shut up
them that remain of him in the day of tribulation. For the day of the
Lord is at hand upon all nations: as thou hast done, so shall it be
done to thee: he will turn thy reward upon thy own head.
passage is interesting in that the tense used is ambiguous. In short,
the prophet appears to be referring to both a past event and one that
is future (to him). Here is what Kiel And Deiltizsch commentary
warning in Oba_1:12-14 is only intelligible on the supposition, that
Obadiah has not any particular conquest and plundering of Jerusalem in
his mind, whether a future one or one that has already occurred, but
regards this as an event that not only has already taken place, but
will take place again: that is to say, on the assumption that he rises
from the particular historical event to the idea which it embodied, and
that, starting from this, he sees in the existing case all subsequent
cases of a similar kind. From this ideal standpoint he could warn Edom
of what it had already done, and designate the disastrous day which had
come upon Judah and Jerusalem by different expressions as a day of the
greatest calamity; for what Edom had done, and what had befallen Judah,
were types of the future development of the fate of Judah and of the
attitude of Edom towards it, which go on fulfilling themselves more and
more until the day of the Lord upon all nations, upon the near approach
of which Obadiah founds his warning in Oba_1:15. - K & D Commentary
I don't speak Hebrew, I have to rely on those who do and really get
down to breaking it down, the K&D commentary always does that very
here is that Edom had become cruel and rejoiced at the calamity of
others. This is something that God really hates. Let me tell you
something, I cringed when I heard people I knew shout for joy at the
evils we did in both Gulf Wars. People who never meant the US any harm
their calamity was rejoiced over when a missiles struck or when our
troops went in and gunned down fleeing and surrendering Iraqi's.
Brothers, when someone else is catching hell, if you want to join them
in their trouble, you only have to gloat, mock and cheer at their
calamity. This was one of Edom's sins.
thou shalt not rejoice over the children of Juda, in the day of their
destruction: and thou shalt not magnify thy mouth in the day of
was for these sins that Edom was going to be (and shall be) severely
punished by the Lord. Let us note the thoroughness of God in all of
this. He is not just going to deal with Edom, but will be so with all
nations. Let us not the Justice of God in all this.
For the day of the Lord is at hand upon all nations: as thou hast done, so shall it be done to thee: he will turn thy reward upon thy own head.
But Obadiah also shows us that God is merciful as well and leaving us all hope.
And in mount Sion shall be salvation, and it shall be holy, and the house of Jacob shall possess those that possessed them.
God is going to restore the whole back to Israel on the day when the Lord Judges the nations and his house.
And saviours shall come up into mount Sion to judge the mount of Esau: and the kingdom shall be for the Lord.
brothers God is very much interested in Geopolitics. The prophets of
old talked about it quite a bit. Prophets like Obadiah and Jonah, they
were sent to foreign nations to speak the word of the Lord to warn the
nations of their sins and to give comfort to God's people who were
often at the brunt end of these nations actions (as a judgment against
Israel's own sins).
In closing, I would like to say that we
Christians should be morally outraged at many of the happening in our
world. Weather it be a chemical attack in Syria, a Church bombing in
Egypt, a vanload of children abducted in the US to be sold off to sex
slavery in the Middle East, a bomb going off in a crowded market or
sports event. These are all things that should outrage us. But let's
always be aware that mankind’s subjective and 'politically convenient'
outrage does not work the righteousness of God.
Too often, it
serves a purpose that is opposed to God's. Let us all remember the
lesson of Edom and know that geopolitical arrogance comes at a very high
price and that many nations for too long have sat idly by while God's
people were sold into slavery, or were delivered into the hands of
their enemies or had reports about massacres (as in China) carefully
swept from the US headlines because of a political decision. There was
no outrage in those instances and in some instances, rather collusion
with the crimes. Moral outrage just to go to war is not outrage, its
outrageous. Geopolitical arrogance will only win you God's judgment and
your geopolitical friends can quickly turn and become your enemies just
when you need them most and your back is turned.
Let a wise man pause and consider that.
Mark S. Watson