GETTING THE MESSAGE/God pities sinners, offers grace in Christ
Obadiah writes around the time of Babylon’s destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC. The book of Obadiah is a prophesy concerning the judgment of Edom for its complicity in and celebration of Jerusalem’s downfall. In this passage (Obadiah 1:5-9) we learn the judgment of Edom will be total. It is final judgment. In it we have a miniature look at the last judgment of the Lord upon all men.
The Lord uses other nations in the destruction of Edom, but Obadiah tells us their downfall originated in heaven and was the outworking of the judgment of the Lord. In verses 5 and 6, we see that the judgment will result in the loss of all riches and possessions. Obadiah says that thieves might have left some things behind, implying that in Edom’s destruction there will be nothing left.
This is a reminder that our possessions are not absolutely secure in this world and that they are completely lost when we leave this world. Our souls are of infinitely greater value than anything else we have. The soul is a rich treasure from God, capable of knowing God and having immortality. The soul is twisted and darkened by sin, but made alive and glorious by the grace of God. Knowing that there is a coming, unavoidable judgment of God teaches us how great and necessary the salvation of our souls is.
On the day of judgment, there will be no help for Edom. Though it had made agreements with nations, Edom’s allies will abandon it on the day of trouble (verse 7). It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God. This reminds us that there is only one advocate for men before God, one Savior given under heaven for men: the Lord Jesus Christ.
In Edom’s fall, the Lord will also expose the folly of their wise men (verse 8). Edom’s leaders didn’t anticipate the judgment, and they have no strategies or solutions that will avail Edom at all. As capable as they had been in crisis in the past, Edom’s leaders can put up no resistance to the Lord’s hand. Everyone who puts their hope in men will know the futility of that hope in due time.
Edom’s military also will be demoralized and ultimately completely destroyed (verse 9). Obadiah describes a country whom God has decreed total judgment upon. There will be no recovery for Edom. It had filled the cup of God’s wrath and must drink it (Jeremiah 49).
Edom’s prosperity, trust in its leaders, and strong military gave it a false sense of confidence. Those assets can be blessings for any land until they are used for evil or elevated above God. Edom found out they cannot save you from God. Our country has had these things in as great an amount as any, but as a national character we now tend to elevate them above God, and we see increasing antipathy toward the Christian faith. This portends trouble for our land.
As individuals, we must look to our own individual accounting to God. Every man stands before God not as a member of any nation, but as an individual and will be judged as such. And as this is by far the most important relation we have, so our judgment as an individual is far more important than any other.
We must understand that God’s judgment is unavoidable. His word says it clearly and repeatedly. And his character requires it. God’s nature is of necessity opposed to any sin or darkness, and his will to punish it is inevitable and, in that sense, necessary.
God is not cold or dispassionate in judgment. He is zealous for righteousness. The final judgment will be public, and the secret things will be revealed by God. The apparent confusion in the present age will be cleared up. God will resolve injustices, and sinners will be ashamed in his presence. So the wise response to the threat of judgment is to prepare for it.
Individuals can prepare to meet God in judgment by being prepared to present a faultless life and character, or by taking refuge in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, in whom God can be just and yet justify the ungodly because Christ died for sinners. This is good news for all who look to him in faith.
In this world God pities sinners and offers grace to us in Christ. But the rule in judgment is justice, not pity or benevolence. Today is the day of salvation. God is full of love and mercy. He is also righteous and just. The judgment Edom received was just. Yours and mine will be too.