Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel logo

God’s Word for You

Obadiah 16-17

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, May 5, 2018

16 Just as you drank on my holy hill,
  so all the nations will drink continually;
  they will drink and drink
  and be as if they had never been.

Obadiah is describing some event that happened when the Edomites entered Israel. Did some of them—a few soldiers or their generals—actually commit some immoral, drunken act on Mount Zion? Professor Cyril Spaude’s opinion was this: “‘Just as you drank on my holy hill’ may refer to an actual act of drunken orgy and debauchery the Edomites committed on Mount Zion, the temple mount, when they marched through the gates of Jerusalem” (People’s Bible: Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, p. 22). God said through Jeremiah: “Drink, get drunk and vomit, and fall to rise no more because of the sword I will send among you” (Jeremiah 25:27). Together, these two prophets of the Lord depict a scene of warriors of Edom reveling and drinking on Mount Zion, in the rubble and the ruins of the burned-out temple, laughing and drinking themselves into a blind stupor, getting so violently drunk that some of them collapsed into unconsciousness—perhaps some of them actually drinking themselves to death. This, Obadiah and Jeremiah announce, is what was going to happen to all of God’s enemies. “All the nations…will drink and drink and be as if they had never been.” But rather than wine, beer, or mead, this would be the red wine of God’s bloody wrath.

17 But on Mount Zion will be deliverance;
  it will be holy,
  and the house of Jacob will possess its inheritance.

Even for condemned Edom, there was still the offer of forgiveness; there was still the opportunity to turn in repentance back to God, to beg him to turn aside his wrath, and to trust in his deliverance. We are not told that anyone from Edom took up this offer, but it was there all the same.

It’s still there for anyone who reads these words today. Is there a sin in your past that troubles you, that breaks your heart, that horrifies you? Everyone, every man, woman, and child, shares the same guilt and despair over sin. As Johann Gerhard wrote: “How great is your mercy, heavenly Father, almighty God! I have been able to offend you by myself, but I have not been able to appease you by myself” (Sacred Meditations, vii). If we remain by ourselves, naked and with our shame exposed, we stand condemned. Some people try to cover the shame of their sins as Adam and Eve did; others have been so deceived by the devil that they think they can stand proudly in their exposed sin and call it something else, but it is sin, all the same. Our sin corrupts us more and more every day; the longer we remain in unconfessed, unforgiven sin, the more we think we cannot be forgiven. For some, “cannot be forgiven” is even twisted into “do not need to be forgiven,” and they are lost forever in the impenitent stance of Satan’s pride.

And yet God is faithful and compassionate. He does not want us to be damned; he wants us to be rescued, to turn back to him, and to be saved. When man wonders, “What could I ever do to be saved?” he comes face-to-face with the terrible reality of the depth of his sin. Could a drop of blood from a man atone for even one of his sins? No. All the blood in his veins could flow freely from every opened vein and artery until the heart pumped itself into a dry mass, and still he would not have atoned for a single sin of his lifetime, let alone for the sins he inherits from Grandpa Adam and Grandma Eve. The mind of man can already feel the heat of hell’s flames when we consider what our sins deserve.

But in this confused and frightened moment, God comes to us with his holy word. What we could never pay, and never even begin to pay, Christ has already paid.

Look at the comfort in verse 17. We need to know a little history to understand it, but it’s there, spelled out for anyone to read. The “house of Jacob” will possess its inheritance. This is a reference to more than the Jews. God said, “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6). God reaches out to you will his forgiveness, covering over every single one of your sins with the blood of his Son, Jesus Christ. What you and I could never pay for, Christ paid in his own blood. Through him, we have received the inheritance promised through Abraham and the prophets. We have the certainty of eternal life.

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.

Browse Devotion Archive