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God’s Word for You

Obadiah 7 your allies will force you to the border

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, March 10, 2018

7 All your allies will force you to the border;
  your friends will deceive and overpower you;
  They set out your bread under you as a trap,
  but you will not detect it.

God has said that Edom will be devastated by its enemies. The natural thought is to look to one’s allies. What of them? They have become enemies. In the context of the preceding verses, this is not a besieged Edom asking for help, but a devastated, ravaged land. Stragglers of the Edomites have tried to escape to their country’s neighbors, allies who might possibly help. But there will be no help.

Some will “force you to the border.” That means that they will turn you back, Edomites. Go back where you came from! The Edomites will hear these words like people running from a burning building. Go back inside! We don’t want you out here!

Others “will deceive and overpower you.” Some neighbors will turn out to be enemies, taking the fugitives as captives or worse. There are countless examples in history of a nation making an alliance with a stronger nation only to become their slaves or tributaries. This was how Bonaparte conquered Europe—by lying every time he made a treaty, and bowling over everyone until he finally overstepped himself in Russia and got his feet caught in the mud at Waterloo. In Luther’s time, the Greeks of Constantinople made an alliance with the Turks, only to crushed by the Turks for their trouble. In ancient times, the Jews vanished as a nation because they tried to befriend Rome, but then Rome walked all over them and took away their homeland. What has Putin done with Crimea? The very same thing. Luther confesses: “This is what the Latin writers say with such elegance, that we must seek out our peers as friends and watch out for those who are stronger.”

The phrase, “They set out your bread under you as a trap” (NIV “those who eat your bread will set a trap”) is strange and enigmatic. Luther passes over it without commenting. It might be a reference to Edom’s most profitable industry, copper smelting. The “bread” of the land, or as we would say, their “bread and butter,” was the mining and smelting of copper from the many rocky hills and heights (Prof. Glueck said, “Ezion Geber was the Pittsburgh of Palestine”). But now that copper had come back in the form of swords and arrowheads, and the lives of the young men were spent.

There might be an even deeper, more profound meaning to “but you will not detect it.” Those who turn away from the gospel, who reject the forgiveness of Christ, still can hear the word of God to their own judgment and damnation. Isaiah’s “Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving” was quoted by Jesus when he explained his parables (Isaiah 6:9; Luke 8:10). If you do not understand the gospel what does it matter if you understand the mysteries all of the sciences and pseudo-sciences? If you misunderstand the gospel, your heart has never learned to beat. Your lungs have never learned to breathe. Your blood has never moved in your veins. Your soul is dead; you must be reborn “through the living and enduring word of God’ (1 Peter 1:23).

Throw yourself at the mercy of Jesus Christ. You have all eternity to learn the sciences, but only this lifetime to learn about your Lord.

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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