I had this all laid out until I started to put it on paper, or more accurately into print. Obadiah, twenty-one verses broken into three sub-sections and a quick wrap of this last of the little books. It is really simple, Edom’s judgement announced, reason for Edom’s punishment, Edom destroyed and Israel restored. Throw in a little something about Obadiah, Edom’s treachery and pride and about 1200 words latter you got a blog to post. Oh the power of a Layman’s mind or rather the lack of. Before we get to the surprise let’s wander through the verses. The introduction to the book is brief, there is little if any details about the prophet and we have no date for it. What we can be sure of is that verse one clearly states that God has given to Obadiah a message that must be communicated to the people. This message if you will, plainly states at the very beginning that Edom is the subject of the message and the the people need to prepare to do battle. The prophet refers to to Edom as “you”. Verse two is structured in a way that one commentary sees as a strategy which is designed to show the people of Israel that God is about to destroy their traditional enemy.
Verse three addresses pride and states a reason for it. The Edomites were proud of their military might and believed they could not be defeated. the expression “live in the clefts of the rocks” points to another of aspect of their pride. Their capital Sela in Hebrew means “rock”. The city is on a plain between two mountains and is accessible only from one direction. They did not feel they could be defeated. As we read in this book God easily defeated them. Verse four to me contains, I think an important point that the people did not recognize. These are much more than the words of Obadiah but a message from God of impending judgement. As I wander through the verses it is my intent to pick and glean a few interesting things. In verses five and six it is made plain that defeat will be complete and it will come at the hands of former allies. Verse seven continues the theme of Edom’s destruction. An interesting aspect here is it chides Edom for its lack discernment and intelligence, they will be surprised at the force of this divine judgement.
Verses eight and nine when reduced to simple layman knowledge simply reinforces the fact that this divine judgement will be conclusive and absolute. Total defeat, Edom’s intelligence, as well as it military power is criticized and challenged. In short, total destruction. Read carefully verses ten and eleven. Verse eleven is particularly harsh. “On that day you stood aside”……. Here lies the heart of Obadiah’s charge. You did nothing to help Judah…by doing nothing you allied yourselves with the invaders. You became like them and here the prophet goes on to list the things the Edomites did to the people of Judah. He continues to berate them in verses twelve and thirteen. Continuing on from verses twelve to fifteen the theme turns to “The Day Of The Lord”. Simply put, an outpouring of divine judgement against the enemies of Judah. As is found in most biblical writings there is a fair amount symbolism, the list of injustices and in verse fifteen the pronouncement. “As you have done, it shall be done to you.” The remaining verses allude to the aftermath. The destruction to allow the restoration and the assurance that victory will be an ultimate triumph over those who oppose divine will. In today’s vernacular, “God” is in charge.
I have for the most part read and shared the commentary from the New Interpreters Bible. What is here in Obadiah, what have I found. As layman we often pass over significant revelations simply because we never go beyond the words, get off the page and discover the awesome message contain in the bible. Another reason is we do not take advantage of the study materials available to us in this digital age. In the mist of all this is the fact that God is as much displeased with what they, Edom, did not do, as He is with what they did. I am sure not all the people physically attacked the people of Judah but all of them did nothing to help those people either. Theological perspective of some fail to recognize the world of today. It is clear here that God is dissatisfied or better said just plain mad about the attitudes of the Edomites toward their brothers and sisters in Judah.
Here is the little gem hidden beneath the story. We sometimes divorce ourselves from the reality of everyday life. To ignore the plight of those among us and fail to respond to the need of the poor, the excluded and destitute of society, such attitudes invite the judgement of God. I will borrow from NIB and leave you with this thought.
Obadiah’ prophecy calls attention to the need for the church to address the real problems of the day. To reach out to those who are socially excluded, ethnic minorities and the homeless and when faced with the realities of these social problems not to remain silent or ignore efforts that may be intended to oppress certain segments of society. I will quote directly from NIB.
“One of the challenges North America faces is the development and creation of a multicultural, multilingual, and pluralistic society and church. That kind of church is distinguished by the participation of all it sectors, respect for divergent opinions and the incorporation of minority groups in to the decision making processes.”
Matthew 25: 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Really quite simple…….Life is good,