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God’s Word for You

Jeremiah 49:7-13

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Message About Edom
49:9-10 – Ob. 5-6
49:14-16 – Ob. 1-4

Many translations have something like the note above, alerting us that quite a few lines of this chapter correspond to similar or identical lines in Obadiah (Jeremiah 38:22 is also similar to Obadiah 7). The natural question to ask is, did Obadiah borrow from Jeremiah, or did Jeremiah borrow from Obadiah? If the Obadiah who wrote the fourth book in the Minor Prophets is the “devout believer” who once helped a hundred prophets escape the wrath of King Ahab and encountered the Prophet Elijah (1 Kings 18:1-16) then Jeremiah had to have borrowed from that Obadiah, who lived 250 years earlier than Jeremiah. But based on the way the text is written, some scholars think that maybe Obadiah borrowed from Jeremiah, making Obadiah a prophet of the exile and not an earlier man.

Is there evidence in antiquity? The Minor Prophets are often grouped in different orders in various ancient manuscripts, roughly chronological. But in every manuscript, whatever the order, Obadiah is always paired with Jonah (an early prophet of the ninth century B.C., just after Elisha’s time). Also, in the apocryphal 4 Esdras 1:39-40 there is a list of the Minor Prophets which also puts the pair Obadiah and Jonah in the first half of the list.

I once had a strong opinion about which book came first; I no longer lean one way or the other. Both are part of God’s inspired word, and both are there for our instruction and faith.

7 Concerning Edom:
This is what the LORD of Armies says:
  Is there no more wisdom in Teman?
Has counsel perished from the prudent?
  Has their wisdom vanished?
8 Flee! Turn back!
     Dwell in the depths, you who live in Dedan;
     for I will bring the disaster of Esau on him when I punish him.

Teman and Dedan were prominent cities of Edom. Teman in particular was once known for its wise men and women. Job’s Temanite friend Eliphaz used wisdom as the centerpiece of his accusations against Job (Job 4:21, 15:2,8,18, 22:2). Jeremiah’s question bites back: Where is your wisdom now? Turn back to God!

9 If grape pickers came to you,
     would they not leave some grapes for gleaning?
If thieves came by night,
  wouldn’t they stop when they had stolen enough?
10 But I have stripped Esau bare,
      I have uncovered his secret places,
      and he will not be able to hide himself.
His offspring are destroyed,
  with his brothers and his neighbors;
  and he is no more.
11 Leave your orphans.
      I will preserve their lives.
      Let your widows trust in me.”

God’s point is amazing and cuts deeply: Thieves quit stealing when they’ve taken enough. People picking grapes leave some behind. But God has taken everything away from Edom in his wrath because of their sins.

But there is hope for the Edomites. God also says: “Leave your orphans…let your widows trust in me.” He would spare a remnant of Edom for his own purposes, and some people would benefit from that. It was their opportunity to repent, to turn to God, and be saved. One Edomite we encounter later in the Bible is King Herod, who along with his sons were set up by the Romans as puppet rulers of Judea. One of Herod the Great’s sons, Herod Antipas, was interested in the message of John the Baptist: “When he heard him, he was much perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly” (Mark 6:20). God worked through the Herods, and this allowed other Edomites to listen to the word of God.

12 For the LORD says: “If those who did not deserve to drink of the cup must drink it; will you go unpunished? No, you will not go unpunished. You must drink. 13 For I have sworn by myself,” says the LORD, “that Bozrah will become a horror, a reproach, a waste, and a curse. All its cities will be perpetual wastes.”

As with Judah, there was no stopping the destruction coming to Edom. But as we have seen, God had plans for this people. The time of grace for many people would be lengthened because of God’s plan.

Who was the one who did not deserve to drink the cup of God’s wrath? Jeremiah leaves the question as ambiguous as he can, although he cannot be thinking of Judah or any of the other nations already condemned in the book. The only innocent one was Christ. He accepted the cup of God’s wrath. He asked, “Shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given me?” (John 18:11). And as he drank the overflowing cup of God’s anger over sin, he left us nothing to drink at all. The poison of God’s punishment is gone, drunk to its last drop by Jesus in our place. He did this so that when we are made to drink the deadly poisons of this lifetime, they will not truly hurt us (Mark 16:18) because living or dying we have a place with God forever.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.