Sunday, July 22, 2012

Obadiah Read-through...

Today, with Obadiah, we jump around a bit chronologically, but continue to follow the literary sequence of the Minor Prophets, according to the MT (Hebrew OT).

The superscription tells us it is Obadiah who receives this prophesy via vision, the normal mode of prophesy.  We do not know much about the man, Obadiah, and scholars seriously doubt that he is the same guy as in 1 Kings 18:3-16 due to chronological issues.

Historically speaking, Obadiah's prophesy would have been somewhere between the fall of Jerusalem  (BC 586) and Babylon's campaign against Edom (BC 553).  Thus, the first half of the Babylonian captivity.

The main theme of Obadiah, according to one scholar is, "Edom is toast!".  In other words, though Israel has fallen so far from obedience to the law and the mission of God, God is still zealous for His people.  Israel's public shame would not last forever, though Israel - now sobered politically, economically, and politically - wondered if God had forgot about them and his promise to Abraham.

Superficially, we can notice a similarity between Amos and Obadiah, though concerning two different audiences.  The observation is that the wealth and power of a nation has no bearing on what the Lord can and will do to establish his Kingdom on earth.  In Amos, Israel (and Judah) are wealthy, politically more powerful than they had been in a while, and Assyria was week; so any discussion of being sent beyond Damascus was ludicrous.  In a similar way, Edom is boasting in its power over God's people.  To both of these situation, as history attests, God acts in a way that is completely unpredictable, namely Assyria strikes down Israel, and Edom is punished by Babylon.

What is the purpose of Obadiah's prophesy in the end? Its in the end! Verses 19-21 tell Israel, despite their situation, God's Kingdom will be established, literally, on and all over the earth, with only One King and Lord; thus Israel will be redeemed (a faithful remnant, which we will see elsewhere, but is not mentioned in Ob.).

Take aways:

1) Our sense of security should only be found in God's mission and Kingdom.  This should continue to be a commonly heard theme through the MPs.
2) Forgetting God's mission and pursuing our own mission (like Israel and Judah in Amos - this is kind of an add-on to yesterday's post, still relevant though), yet claiming the name of the Lord will not be tolerated by the Lord.
3) Finally, and most importantly, those who oppose the mission and Kingdom of God, and especially the people of God, will be put in their place.  God will always stand for those who declare His name!

"For the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations.  As you have done, it shall be done to you; your deeds shall return on your own head...and the kingdom shall be the Lord's" (Obadiah 15, 21c).

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