Thoughts About What We’re Reading…
Obadiah, the shortest book in the Old Testament is primarily a book about God’s judgment on Edom, but the book has a major message for us today.
Edom today would be associated with the area of southwestern Jordan or modern day Petra.
Edom was situated along the great trade routes between Syria and Egypt, this allowed the inhabitants to grow rich on tolls extracted from the many caravans making their way along the trade routes. Characterized by its red sandstone cliffs, rising to heights of more than 5,000 feet above sea level, Edom was easily fortified.
Much of the remains of this great city, which we now call Petra, can be seen today.
As a result of having made their home within this natural fortress, the people of Edom were free to wage war and levy tribute on others while themselves being relatively free of outside interference – sound familiar?
In Genesis 36 we learn that Edom is closely associated with Esau, the brother of Jacob. In Deuteronomy 23, the Jews were told, “Do not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother”.
Edom refused to give the Israelites passage in Numbers 20 after the Exodus, and we read how King David conquered the Edomites in 2 Samuel 8.
The end of Edom is shrouded in mystery. Widely known in ancient times and greatly admired, it was lost to western knowledge for nearly one thousand years until rediscovered by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burkhardt in 1812.
The city is entered through a narrow winding gorge or canyon, about a mile long and very narrow. On the average, it is about fifteen feet from towering wall to towering wall.
Toward the end of the passage the traveler suddenly comes to the first of the magnificent buildings that have been carved into the face of the rock.
According to Obadiah, on the occasion of an overthrow of Jerusalem by her enemies, the Edomites first stood by and then later participated in Judah’s misfortune both by raiding the city and by catching some of the escaping people of Judah and turning them over to their enemies (vv. 11–14).
Their pride and gloating over the misfortune of the Israelites, their kinsmen so to speak, brought God’s judgment.
We are reminded that God exalts a nation, then overtime, those in power see it as a cause for personal pride.
They boast that they are better than others and can even do without God.
Then God brings the nation down.
This has been the case with all the great kingdoms of the world. The pride of man, result of the fall, demonstrated at Babel and every civilization since.
Historians tell us that the world has seen twenty-one great civilizations, yet each has passed away making room for the next.
Egypt, Babylon, Greece, and Rome – all have fallen.
And so I imagine it will be with the great powers of our day – be it the Soviet Union, China or the United States.
No nation is ever going to be 100 percent Christian, and scripture teaches there will never be universal righteousness until the Lord himself returns to establish it.
I do not know what the future holds specifically for my children and this nation, but I do know God seeks a people who will humbly seek Him in prayer and righteousness, lovingly embracing Christ as Lord.
God will exalt a nation to the degree that it acknowledges its dependence on Him and seeks His righteousness.
Obadiah is a sobering reminder that, “the day of the LORD is near for all nations.”
Until next time… Keep reading!
Excerpts for this blog were taken from: The Minor Prophets, Obadiah, Volume 1 by James M. Boice