However, we do know for certain that serious hostility and discord became a part oftheir relationship at the point in their young adulthood when Jacob swindled Esau out of his birthrightas well as his blessing as the firstborn son. In fact, things got so bad between the two of them that Jacob had to flee for his life to Paddam Aram. Esau and his descendants moved southeast to the hill country of Seir,while Jacob and his descendants remained in the land of Canaan.
However, as the Israelites were making their way to the promised land after wandering forforty years in the desert, the paths of the Israelites and the Edomites crossed once again. We will not go through any field or vineyard, or drink water from any well. In fact, this time they also went outto meet the Israelites with a large and powerful army to make sure they got the point. The latter historical books of the Old Testament Samuel through Chronicles speak of a number ofsubsequent scuffles that occurred between the nations of Israel and Edom. We are told that KingDavid upon becoming king of Israel13 subjugated the Edomites as part of his conquering activitiesfirm control over Edom continued through the reign of king Solomon, but began to slowly dwindleduring the years of the divided kingdom.
However, a few years later the Edomites didsucceed in their rebellion against Jehoshaphat's son, king Jehoram. After Babylon conquered Jerusalem in BC and carried the people ofJudah into captivity, a contingent of Edomites took control of the city of Hebron and thesurrounding area. This contingent of Edomites became the ancestors of the inter-testamental nationof Idumaea. Meanwhile, an Arab tribe known18 as the Nabateans took control of the historic land ofEdom, including Selah Petra , its capital.
The first prophet to do so isMoses in Exodus chapter The nations will hear and tremble; anguish will grip the people of Philistia. Thechiefs of Edom will be terrified, the leaders of Moab will be seized with trembling, the people of Canaan will meltaway. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the sons of Sheth.
Edom will be conquered; Seir, his enemy will be conquered, but Israel will grow strong. A ruler will come out of Jacob and destroy the survivors of the city. The fact that this prophecy occurs shortly after Edom'srefusal to allow Israel to pass through their land is striking. This refusal was the first of Edom's manyunbrotherly acts towards their brother Israel throughout their history.
Unfortunately, the later generationsof Edomites would show themselves to be no less unbrotherly towards the Israelites than their ancestors. And as each generation of Edomites showed themselves to be just as unbrotherly towards their brotherIsraelites as their ancestors, the LORD caused the literary prophets of each generation to continue tocondemn them for their actions, even to the extent of using them as Balaam did; as a prophetic type of theenemies of God, his Messiah, and his people. King David writes in such a way in Psalm 52; not regarding the nation of Edom as a whole, butregarding one particular Edomite named Doeg, who was King Saul's head shepherd.
Doeg had falselyaccused David and Ahimelech the priest of treason and treachery against Saul. Doeg's false accusationled to the death of 85 priests at Nob, as well as to an increase in Saul's suspicion and hatred for David. As will be seen later, this is the same chief sin that Obadiah condemns the entire nation ofEdomites for in his book of prophecy.
Jeremiah express the same sentiments as Isaiah, but in many more words. Generally speaking, just as the Edomites of Moses time acted in an unbrotherly manner towards theirbrother Israelites, so did the Edomites of David's time Obadiah's time as well. A quick reading of the twenty-one verses of Obadiah's book of prophecyshows that the Edomites of his time were no less unbrotherly towards their brother Israelites than theirancestors or their descendants.
But the question that biblical scholars have debated ad nauseam is The reason for this debate is because the book of Obadiah is one ofonly two prophetic books in the Old Testament in which absolutely no biographical or chronologicalinformation is given at the beginning of the book. Forthis reason, Obadiah is among the most difficult books in the Old Testament to assign a date to.
However, it is evident from the content of the book that Obadiah was written after a time whenforeigners invaded Jerusalem. Because of the lack of chronological information, some scholars29 including Luther conclude that Obadiah was written after the most obvious and destructiveinvasion of Jerusalem - that of the Babylonians in BC.
The main argument for this theory is thatthis invasion, being the most devastating in Jerusalem's history, was the most worthy occasion forObadiah's message. An often-mentioned corollary argument in this theory is the striking similaritybetween Obadiah verses and Jeremiah Some commentators argue that since these sectionsare so similar, Obadiah and Jeremiah must have been contemporaries.
The mostcompelling one has to do with where the Jews placed Obadiah in the scroll of the twelve minorprophets. If Obadiah was indeed written after the fall of Jerusalem, then why did the Jews groupit with Joel, Amos, and Jonah - all Pre-Assyrian and Assyrian era prophets - as they arranged theorder of the Twelve? Grouping a prophet with other prophets from a different era was not their standardpractice. Baker pg. Baker, pg. See Keil, pp. Laetsch, pg. Keil mentions another intriguing argument for an early date of composition; he points out thatJoel could very likely be a direct quote of Obadiah verse Was there, however, an earlier foreign invasion of Jerusalem which could have served as theoccasion for Obadiah's book of prophecy?
A careful analysis of the biblical record reveals that thereindeed was a foreign invasion of Jerusalem that would allow for an Assyrian-period date for the book ofObadiah. As was mentioned earlier, 2 Chronicles chapter 21 says that during the reign of king Jehoram ca.
Since this invasion wassuccessful enough to loot the king's palace in Jerusalem, it certainly was a big enough event to warranta prophetic message. At the same time, it was not so devastating an invasion that Obadiah wouldlament about it on the scale that Jeremiah did upon seeing the Babylonians utterly destroy Jerusalemand the temple in BC. Closely related to the question of when exactly Obadiah wrote his book is the question of who exactlyObadiah is. Here too, because of the book's lack of biographical and chronological information,scholars have debated as well about the identity of the writer of Obadiah.
Perhaps the mostwell-known of these Obadiahs is the Obadiah who had the official position of being in charge ofKing Ahab's palace. Jerome was of the opinion that God granted this particular Obadiah the gift of prophecy as a resultof this act of devotion, and that therefore he must be the Obadiah who wrote the book of prophecy bythe same name.
Keil, pg. If a case is to be made for a different Obadiah mentioned in Scripture to be the author of the book ofprophecy by the same name, the only other logical conclusion - again, because of the lack ofinformation - is the Obadiah spoken of in 2 Chronicles chapter This Obadiah was an official ofking Jehoshaphat of Judah. Our own Professor Cyril Spaude is of the opinion that this particular Obadiah was the author of thebook of prophecy that bears the same name.
However, perhaps at the sametime God was using him to prophetically foretell how the Edomites would rejoice in a similar mannerwhen Jerusalem would be invaded and pillaged by a group of foreigners once again in the future; thatis, when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians in BC. Thus, Psalm is inspiredevidence that Obadiah's prophecy was fulfilled. Of all the options suggested by commentators, thisone seems to be the most plausible.
It combines the strengths of each option while excluding the gaps,and at the same time displays a high view of predictive prophecy. In the end, though, we cannot know for sure who Obadiah was and when he wrote. But, ultimatelythese things are immaterial; because no matter who wrote this book of prophecy or when it waswritten, what is most important is to consider the message which this inspired book of the OldTestament proclaims.
Not surprisingly, the message of Obadiah is consistent with the rest of theprophets, the rest of the Old Testament, as well as the rest of Scripture. Obadiah proclaims a sternmessage of law to the nation of Edom because they had consistently mistreated their brother nation ofIsrael throughout their history. But Obadiah also proclaims a comforting message of deliverance toGod's faithful people who had suffered through all the mistreatment and scorn. Spaude, pg. Using this general outline, what follows is a brief isagogical summary of the content of Obadiah's bookof prophecy.
This particular word is one of themost common words used to refer to prophetic revelation in the Old Testament. But before the LORD begins speaking directly, Obadiah seems to insert an editorial comment of sortsin the second half of verse 1. Or, does he mean we Now, they themselves are the ones against whom an international fighting force is being46 A sampling of the occurrences of this word: 1 Samuel , 2 Chronicles , Ezekiel ,27, Daniel ,Micah Isaiah , Nahum But in their case, it's not just a few neighboring countries that are raising a fighting force; no,it's the Sovereign LORD himself.
In verses two through four, Obadiah records the judgment that the LORD has pronounced on Edom inhis eternal courtroom, as well as why he has pronounced it.
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And what is that judgment? Quite frankly, it was because they had many things to beprideful of! In the following verses, the LORD condemns the Edomites for their prideful trust inmany earthly things. But as he begins his condemnation of Edom, he mentions the chief source of theirpride; their impregnable fortress-cities which were located their historic homeland, the hill country ofSeir. Chief among those cities was Selah, their capital. The only wayto enter the city is to walk through a narrow, winding canyon that is about a mile in length. Throughoutthe route, the steep canyon walls do not drop below two hundred feet in height, and at some pointsthey are only twelve feet apart from each other.
Andbecause of these fortress-cities, the Edomites pridefully thought of themselves as soaring eagles, alooffrom danger and safe from destruction. But in their sinful pride they had forgotten that there is aneagle who soars higher than them; the Sovereign LORD. If grape pickers came to you, would they not leave a few grapes? In the ancient world, the Edomites were quite well-known for their wealth. Thus Obadiah could very likely be referring to the Edomite city of Selah by name here,not just to the Edomites' general tendency to live amongst the clefts of rocks in their homeland.
Theabundant wealth that the Edomites enjoyed caused them to be quite prideful of their riches. The first illustration has to do with thieves, the second with grape-harvesters. Because ancient thieves were in such a hurry to escape, they often only stole what they could grab in ashort amount of time. Similarly, because ancient grape pickers were in such a hurry to finish their task,they often left some of the grapes unharvested on the vine.
In both illustrations, something remainedafterwards. The point of these illustrations is that it was going to be much different for Edom; for theirdestruction would be thorough and complete. If they were about to suffer at the hands of normalthieves and looters, they might survive. But that would not be the case, because it was the LORDhimself who was about to bring this looting upon them.
No, they also enjoyed the security afforded by alliances with foreigncountries. These alliances were forged because foreign countries were eager to protect their economicinterests, which were largely dependent on the trade routes that went through Edom. Israel not only failed to be a missionary nation, but Israel rejected the prophets that God gave them.
Israel rejected their God-given prophets. At the same time, worshiping idols and living any way they wanted to live, failed to do what God has called them to do, and failed to listen to the messengers that God has sent. And he himself is reluctant to do it. I think, in a sense, Jonah is sent to Nineveh to shame Israel, to shame Israel. And what a rebuke that was against all those Jews who had nothing but animosity, bitterness and hatred toward the nations around them, and were unfaithful to take the message of the true and gracious God to those nations.
What a rebuke it would be to find out that if you had done that, this could have been the response. The heathen city of Nineveh repented at the preaching of a reluctant prophet. You remember Jesus used Nineveh to admonish the unbelieving Pharisees of His day who refused to repent at the preaching of the greatest of all prophets, with all the evidence that he was the Lord and the Messiah. So this is a double rebuke to Judaism, a rebuke to them at the time of the prophet and at the time of Christ.
Now most Christians know the names of the Hebrew prophets. You know Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. No word from God is less important than some other word from God. For the sea was becoming increasingly stormy. Then the sea will become calm for you, for I know that on account of me this great storm has come upon you. He gets it. He knows this is a direct work of God. They have a certain amount of human love. Then there was a little revival on the boat. But I think when Jonah explained to them who God is, they listened and they understood.
And then when they saw the demonstration of the miraculous ceasing of the storm, they understood that this was the true God. They had never seen anything like that because none of their false gods could do miracles. They became believers in the message that Jonah gave them. It just may be that you might meet those sailors in heaven. You know, it would have been enough to just get rid of Jonah. I mean, why go to all this trouble? So this is not some kind of a warm-blooded mammal; this is some kind of fish, cold and wet, unimaginable, indescribable--a three-day stay inside a fish, cramped in clammy darkness, suffocating stench, gastric acids of the fish eating away at his skin, constant motion of the fish, changing pressure of the ocean depths, absolutely nauseating.
It is a miraculous thing that he is in the fish, that the fish was prepared for him. He answered me. Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple. He thought when he went into the water it was over as he fell down deeper into the billowy sea. Then he survived and he turned to worship. The great deep engulfed me, weeds were wrapped around my head. I descended to the roots of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever You have brought me While I was fainting away, I remembered the Lord Those who regard vain idols forsake their faithfulness, but I will sacrifice to you with the voice of thanksgiving.
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That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the Lord. But what he turns to is worship…worship and he knows that God is his only hope. And he makes a commitment to God that I will sacrifice to You with a voice of thanksgiving that which I have vowed, I will pay. Now he wants to have a God of grace and a God of compassion and a God of mercy and a God of lovingkindness. And he knows that his only hope is in the goodness of God. Near death experience, for sure. Submerged in the depth of the ocean, comes to God with a worshiping heart, praising God, promising God he will be faithful.
Wet, disheveled, slime-covered, unthinkable condition on the beach, he has repented. Now, could God use him at this point? Apparently He can, and this again comes back to the issue of unlikely hero because the Lord recommissions him, He recommissions him. Do what I told you the first time. Preach the message that I tell you.
I would think miles northeast of Israel. According to historians, magnificent walls; the inner city was surrounded by eight miles of walls. The rest of the city had a circumference that extended to sixty miles around--very large metropolis. Fish were of particular importance to the Ninevites--fresh water fish and these fish gods. So when Jonah arrives he had a good fish story for fish town.
And he just kept saying that and saying that and saying that all day as he walked. I would like a little more detail about just how that happened--six hundred thousand people, pagan people, worshiping Dagon, worshiping Nanshe, living lives of pagan idolatry with all that goes with it; a vile, wicked, evil people doing horrific things, slaughtering people, decapitating them, dismembering them. What the people of Nineveh believed in God? Do not let them eat or drink water. But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands.
Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish. You may actually mature to the point where you see the positive blessings of being a believer, and you will mature to the point where you will love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, at least in a relative sense, and you will long to honor and serve Him, and love will overpower fear.
But fear is where we all began. Hundreds of thousands of people in Nineveh turn to the Lord in repentance. Now there have been all kinds of people who have tried to explain this. Somebody else suggests there was civil unrest. There is no natural explanation for a massive conversion of hundreds of thousands of people.
And He used a rebellious prophet to bring a rebellious people to faith in Himself--just a staggering and wonderful story. The king gets in on it. Whatever his name, he exchanged his royal robes for sackcloth and ashes and he humbles himself, a public display of personal mourning. And the story ends in a most bizarre way. They came down, put sackcloth and ashes, which is a symbol of humiliation.
You would think he would go back and if nothing else, for his own credibility as a prophet, to tell the tale. This is unthinkable. I knew You would relent on Your judgment on those people. He had a rotten attitude at the beginning; you can see how really rotten it is at the end. He survived. And now he wants to be killed again. He wants nothing to do with this. He would rather be dead than see people converted to Christ--or converted to God, I mean. This is aggravated to such an extreme degree.
What he hoped for was that he would preach destruction, go on a hill, wait forty days and watch it come and love every minute of it. There he made a shelter for himself, sat under it in the shade till he could see what would happen in the city. Well why would God do that? And if I just sit here and wait, God will destroy them all. I love this, in verse And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant. But, you say to yourself, what is God doing? He thinks and hopes that they all get destroyed. God appointed a worm, God created a plant, then God created a worm.
And the Lord teaches him a lesson. Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than , persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals? He wants to see God condemn a whole city to hell. And God teaches him a lesson. So in the end, what have we learned? This is about God, this book. What does it tell us about God? Well, we just draw a few simple lessons.
First of all, that God is the ultimate hero of the story. It is God, you see, who starts the storm, incites the storm. God prepares the fish. God has the fish swallow Jonah.
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God makes sure Jonah survives. God designs the fish to throw Jonah up on the land. It is God even before all of that who started the wind that set the storm in motion. It is God who then calms the sea. It is God who grows the plant that shelters him. It is God who sends the worm that eats the plant.
It is God who whips up the sirocco the next day. It is God who does all of this. It is God who has power over creation. Even the pagan sailors recognize God as the Creator. Surprisingly, the only person in the story who resists God is Jonah. You just really are convinced that God ought to get somebody else, but God is in the business of doing mighty, massive work through people that from a human viewpoint would be discarded. Second, we not only learn that God is the Creator who controls everything sovereignly, but we learn that God is a supreme judge.
The message that Jonah was to give was the message of judgment--forty days and Nineveh will be destroyed by divine fury and divine wrath. Recognizing their doom was imminent, the Ninevites repented. And that takes us to the third and final element that we learn about God and that is that God is a gracious Savior. His lovingkindness is not limited by our prejudices, our pride, our indifference.
His lovingkindness and compassion and grace is not limited to good people, but to brutal, murderous, idolatrous pagans. Those three truths then are the heart of the gospel, the heart of the gospel. God is the Creator of all of us. We have sinned against our Creator. Wrath and judgment has been pronounced upon us. But we have been given the gospel, which offers us forgiveness through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
You really see the gospel in the heart of God in the story of Jonah. The Creator God, sinned against, warns about judgment and fully forgives those who repent and embrace Him. Our Father, we thank You tonight for the story again, familiar story of Jonah which reminds us that You are the Creator whom we have offended and sinned against. You are the judge who has pronounced condemnation, eternal damnation, on us, but You are also the God who offers forgiveness for those who repent and then believe the gospel of Christ.
And it is because we have come to believe that gospel that salvation is provided for all who repent and all who believe in You through the work of Christ on the cross, and we believing that come to celebrate that. We thank You, blessed Holy Spirit, for giving us life and faith even as You gave to the Ninevites to put our trust in the one Savior. Help Grace to You bring important resources like this to people in your community and beyond, free of charge.
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