Deliverance on (in) Zion
051-00757 Obadiah 15-18
I. I want to tell you a story.
A. It’s about two brothers, twins.
1. When they were born, the first one came out and then his brother came as he was grasping the first one’s heel.
2. The older brother grew and loved hunting and became quite good at it.
a) You might say he was a man’s man.
b) And so it was that his father was proud of him and loved him.
3. The younger was more of a mama’s boy.
a) He would normally hang around home when his older brother went off on his adventures.
b) He also liked to help out at home by doing chores like cooking.
4. It is not uncommon for brothers to fight and quarrel with each other trying to gain the upper hand. It’s like brotherly competition.
a) And so it was that one day the older brother came in from the wilderness and found his younger brother cooking up some stew.
b) Being hungry, he asked for some. And that is when the mama’s boy decided to get the best of his older (by seconds) brother.
c) He said he would give him some stew for his brother’s inheritance.
(1) In those days, a father’s inheritance went to the oldest son.
d) Being famished from his travels in the wilderness, the older brother said ok. He sat down to a hearty meal of bread and lentil stew.
B. The day came when their father was at death’s door. He had grown old and could barely see light anymore.
1. Knowing he was about to die, he called for his oldest son so that he could give him his inheritance.
2. Now mom’s favorite was the younger son and she remembered the day he bought the birthright from his brother.
3. The older son had not really taken the trade seriously and wanted the inheritance. The father wanted to give his favorite son, the elder one, the inheritance because that is what was proper.
4. So mom got the young son to dress up like his brother and while she was supposed to be getting the older son, sent her younger son to dad.
5. When dad, who could hardly see, felt the boy’s clothing, he was convinced he was the right twin and gave him the inheritance.
6. Older son came in and found out how his father had been tricked into giving the inheritance to his brother was outraged.
7. Thus began a long feud between the sons of Isaac and Rebekah.
a) Their names were Esau and Jacob (whose name means deceiver).
C. It is about Esau and Jacob that Obadiah wrote his prophecy.
1. Each had become through their descendants great nations.
2. Jacob’s name was changed by God to Israel.
3. Esau was called Edom because the stew he ate was red.
II. The heart of the prophecy is in the verses we read this morning. But we have to go back into history to see how the feud between Esau and Jacob had continued on through the years.
A. For instance, when Israel (now a great number of people) was delivered from Egypt, they wandered through the wilderness.
1. They first went south to Sinai. (Bring Up Map)
2. But then they wanted to go north to the promised land.
3. The smart way north was on the east side of the Dead Sea because the Canaanites were to the east of it.
4. This route would take them through the land of Edom, and the Israelites thought this wouldn’t be a problem because they were related.
5. Here’s how Moses describes the event:
6. Numbers 20:14-21
Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom, saying: “This is what your brother Israel says: You know about all the hardships that have come upon us. Our forefathers went down into Egypt, and we lived there many years. The Egyptians mistreated us and our fathers, but when we cried out to the Lord, he heard our cry and sent an angel and brought us out of Egypt.
“Now we are here at Kadesh, a town on the edge of your territory. Please let us pass through your country. We will not go through any field or vineyard, or drink water from any well. We will travel along the king’s highway and not turn to the right or to the left until we have passed through your territory.”
But Edom answered: “You may not pass through here; if you try, we will march out and attack you with the sword.”
The Israelites replied: “We will go along the main road, and if we or our livestock drink any of your water, we will pay for it. We only want to pass through on foot—nothing else.”
Again they answered: “You may not pass through.” Then Edom came out against them with a large and powerful army. Since Edom refused to let them go through their territory, Israel turned away from them.
7. See what I mean by a feud?
B. Later on, King Saul went to war against the Edomites.
1. David gained great fame when he and his men killed 18,000 of them.
2. The initial fight of two brothers became a war between two nations.
3. With this victory, you can imagine how the Edomites felt toward Israel.
C. So when the Babylonians were sent by God to punish Israel for her evil, and they sacked Jerusalem and the Temple, stealing the articles within the Temple and taking control of Judah, the Edomites were delighted to see their enemy suffer so much.
1. They even followed the Babylonians and entered Jerusalem taking for themselves land and whatever spoils were left.
2. Now Israel was the conquered people. And they saw their brothers, the Edomites, becoming wealthy and prosperous while they were subdued.
3. What an injustice! Israel, the chosen people of God, suffering while their kin, the not chosen ones of God prospered at their expense. Was there no end to their humiliation?
4. The greatness of the nation Israel after the height of their glory under King Solomon was now the object of riducule and troment by the their enemies. And the Edomites were tops on the list.
D. This is the context for Obadiah’s oracle.
III. In fact, the oracle is directed at Edom.
A. Here’s what the Lord said through Obadiah:
1. Edom is just like every other nation, the day when the Lord will come and bring judgment is soon.
2. And just like every nation, Edom will be judged according to their activities, especially those against Jerusalem which in the Old Testament is metaphorically called Mount Zion.
3. The principle of Judgment is Lex Talionis – sometimes called an Eye for and Eye: as Jesus said Matthew 7:2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
a) Now here is what Edom has done – they drank on God’s holy hill. In other words they consumed what was God’s and not theirs.
b) And here is the judgment: they will drink themselves into a drunken stupor and drink themselves to death.
c) Their avaricious appetite for consuming what was not theirs will be the cause of their downfall and end.
B. Now this was comforting news for Israel, because while they saw Edom prosper, they knew that the Day of the Lord would come and restore his holy mountain and his people who worshiped there.
1. God would deliver his people. His covenant will prevail.
2. The judgment of God will come upon Edom just as it will come upon every other nation: those who trust in God’s deliverance will come to Zion and those who wage war against God and his people will be nothing more than the rubble left after a tremendous fire.
3. Thus spoke the Lord.
IV. Now all of this came about during the years between the close of the Old Testament and the opening of the New. I could tell you about it if we had more time. But for now, the question is, so what?
A. What does this war between two nations have to do with us?
1. Today there is no Edom and there are no Edomites.
2. Today Israel is so scattered throughout the world that it is impossible to determine which tribe one is from or even if a person is fully Jewish.
B. But there is a parallel.
1. According to Paul, the true Israel is the church. Israel consists of those who have come to Zion in faith.
2. According to Luke, the Kingdom of God is the church (kingdom in gospel becomes church in Acts.).
3. According to Hebrews 12:18-24 You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.” The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
C. Israel is the Church. Zion is the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of God who is the judge of all men.
1. All people will be judged according to their faith and faithfulness.
2. The judgment of God will result in the division of all people into one of two groups.
3. Matthew 25:31-34 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”
V. The words of Obadiah are words of hope to Israel.
A. Deliverance is in Zion.
B. And deliverance is from the hostility in the world toward God, Christ, and his Kingdom people.
C. David presented the same message as Obadiah: Psalm 37:1-6 Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.