God’s Word for You
Obadiah 19-21 The LORD himself will be King
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, June 2, 2018
We have taken two weeks to review some of the Psalms while I completed an assignment for an upcoming conference of the Minnesota District of the WELS. Today we return to our Saturday series completing the Prophet Obadiah. Monday we will return to the Gospel of Luke.
The final verses of Obadiah remove us from the judgment on the people of Edom in the prophet’s day and look ahead to the coming of Jesus Christ and the spread of the gospel throughout the world. The prophecy also looks ahead to the Lord’s second coming, when the theme of judgment matches up with the final judgment of all the wicked when Jesus comes again to judge the living and the dead.
19 People from the Negev will occupy the mountains of Esau,
and people from the foothills will possess
the land of the Philistines.
They will occupy the fields of Ephraim
and the fields of Samaria,
and Benjamin will possess Gilead.
The victory of Christ over Satan is cast into simple terms of victory for God’s people. The south of Judah and the tribe of Simeon were located in a lowland known as the Negev. Those people—often persecuted and raised by Edom—would be given the land of Edom (“Esau”) for their spoils.
The foothills (Hebrew shephelah) would be given the land on the other side of the mountains: Philistia. In addition, they would possess the land once occupied by Israel before the northern tribes were removed to Assyria. They would receive Ephraim (the towering highland north of Judah) and the rich fields of Samaria. And Benjamin! The little tribe of Benjamin would be given the land of Gilead in the north. This is only a picture, mind you, of the blessings God will give to all believers when he brings us home to heaven. The blessings will be wonderful—unimaginable—so they are placed here into simple and clear terms, easily understood.
20 This army of exiles from northern Israel*
will possess the land as far as Zarephath;
the exiles from Jerusalem who are in Sardis**
will possess the towns of the Negev.
* 20 “northern Israel.” Hebrew text, “Israel,” but the northern portion, not the whole unified nation, is meant here.
** 20 “Sardis” Hebrew Sepharad, generally accepted to be the city of Sardis in Asia Minor (Revelation 1:11, 3:1,4).
The northern tribes will return from exile and spread out along the northern coastline of Palestine to Zarephath. And the southern tribes (note that their captivity is indirectly prophesied here) would also be granted an allotment of the Negev. More importantly, we seem to have a glimpse of the way the Gospel would travel in New Testament times. Zarephath might remind us of the widow who befriended Elijah (1 Kings 17:9-10; Luke 4:26). This also reminds us that Jesus traveled into Syrian-Phoenicia near Tyre, meeting a woman there with a remarkable faith. She was the one who asked for mere scraps of Jesus’ healing, since “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs” (Mark 7:28).
Sardis was a city in western Asia Minor, one of the seven Christian Churches addressed by Jesus is his letter dictated to the Apostle John (Revelation 3:1-6). Jesus said that although the church was dying or dead (3:1); “Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes” (3:4). Even when judgment is made—either on Sardis or on Edom—the Lord is compassionate on those who have faith, just as he was patient and compassionate when he rescued Lot from Sodom (Genesis 19:15-24).
21 Deliverers will go up on Mount Zion
to rule over the mountains of Esau.
And the LORD himself will be King.
The word for “deliverer” here is related to the word “Messiah.” Although more than one messiah is mentioned, we know that we have only one Christ (Messiah). Yet this term was sometimes used to describe the “rescuers” who saved Israel in the time of the Judges.
More importantly and more clearly as a prophecy, “The LORD himself will be King.” Jesus is the King who reigns over all, occupying the place of honor at the right hand of the Father (Acts 7:55-56; Mark 16:19). He is both the judge who condemns all sinners and the Lamb whose sacrifice atoned for the sins of the world and have rescued all who put their faith in him. And he will reign forever and ever (Revelation 11:15; Exodus 15:18).
Obadiah’s message meant judgment and destruction for God’s enemies, but for us, this short little book has reminded us of the great rescue that is ours through Jesus. He will preserve his people for all eternity, blessing us with all that we need. He will give whatever we might want, and more, because his mercy endures forever.
Pastor Timothy Smith
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