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God’s Word for You

Obadiah 18 A call to repentance

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, May 12, 2018

18 The house of Jacob will be a fire
  and the house of Joseph a flame;
  the house of Esau will be stubble,
  and they will set it on fire and consume it.
  There will be no survivors from the house of Esau.”
  The LORD has spoken.

Everything mankind does is seen by God. Our sins cannot be hidden from him, because they are before him all the time. Cain could not hide a murder by burying his brother in the earth, because God sees everything, and God made the ground from which Abel’s blood cried out (Genesis 4:10). Lamech could not hide his bigamy from God because God was the maker of the man and both of his wives (Genesis 4:19). Esau sold his birthright and could not hide what he despised from God because God’s servants, Isaac and Jacob, knew about it, even though Esau complained and wept aloud with it came time for Isaac to bless him. But Isaac spoke as a prophet and said this about his son and about his son’s people: “You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother. But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck” (Genesis 27:40). Neither Esau nor his descendants ever understood that it was only that yoke that bound them to Israel which spared them as long as it did. As soon as they threw off the yoke, they were destroyed.

Isaac’s prophecy was now expanded by Obadiah. Esau’s people would be the stubble, and Jacob’s people would be flames to them. Everything Esau once had would be consumed by Israel. This was both a physical warning and a spiritual warning. When we think of flames and stubble, we naturally think of fire and maybe war. The land of Edom would be ruined, destroyed by war. But the prophecy is also spiritual. Edom’s people, if they did not turn to God in repentance and faith, would be lost just as surely as a twig consumed by fire. See the note below to find out what really happened historically to Edom in fulfillment of Obadiah’s words.

Yet Obadiah’s warning offered the chance to repent to the nation. Anyone who turns to Christ in faith will have forgiveness. This is our promise from God. Trust in your Savior and know that you have a place with him forever.


What happened to Edom? (Condensed from Laetsch, Minor Prophets p. 209)

Between 550 and 400 BC, about the time the Old Testament was drawing to a close, the Edomites were expelled from their land by a nation called the Nabateans. In turn, the Nabateans were conquered by the Romans in 105 AD. Meanwhile, the Edomite remnant occupied the harsh desert south of Israel known as the Negev.

In the historical part of the Apocrypha, we learn that the Edomites occupied Hebron in southern Judea (1 Maccabees 4:61; 5:65). Judas Maccabaeus “The Hammer” defeated them in 185 BC, killing twenty thousand Edomite warriors (1 Macc. 5:3; 5:64; 2 Macc. 10:15-23; Josephus Antiquities xii,8,1).

Later, John Hyrcanus forced them into Judaism by compelling them to be circumcised and to obey the Law of Moses. This brought the Edomites (also called “Idumeans” by this time) to the notice of the Romans as being both insiders as far as the Jews were seemingly concerned and yet outsiders from a certain point of view. An Idumean named Antipater was named procurator of Judea by Julius Caesar in 47 BC, and his son Herod was appointed King Herod (the Great) by the Roman Senate. The story of Herod and his sons is interwoven with the life and ministry of Jesus in the Gospels.

Later, after the Lord’s ascension, the Idumeans were brought into a power struggle over Jerusalem and thousands of Edomites plundered the city. Facing the Roman general Titus, about five thousand Idumeans tried to surrender. Titus forced them to fight for Rome, and only a few survived. “The few survivors,” Laetsch reports, “took refuge among the desert tribes and were absorbed in their communities. Thus ended the proud and cruel nation of Edom” (Minor Prophets p. 209).

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.

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