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The Heart of the Matter

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The Heart of the Matter

Obadiah                      Sept. 14, 1997

Scripture:  Psalm 137

Introduction:

          So far in our studies on the minor prophets, we have discovered in Joel that God brings judgment (locusts - Day of the Lord) upon his own people when they stray from the worship of the One True God (Joash), but that he also brings grace and mercy through repentance.  We saw that all peoples stand in the valley of decision regarding faith in God.

          In Nahum we saw God’s judgment upon a foreign nation (Assyria - Nineveh) because they fell away from the mercy that God gave them during their repentance at the preaching of Jonah.  We saw that sometimes God rings just once.  We saw that wicked king Manasseh from Judah (one of God’s own) repented at the time of this prophecy and stayed God’s judgment upon himself and his nation because he came to understand that God is dangerous.

          Here in Obadiah we will see God’s judgment on the betrayal of a brother which is at the heart of the matter.  The nation of Edom occupied the land SE of the Dead Sea, SE of Judah.  This land was nearly impenetrable with mountains and crags and cliffs and canyons.  It was a lofty and relatively safe place to live.  Edom was the nation that descended from Esau, the fraternal twin brother of Jacob.  Jacob, born second in sequence to Esau,  had wrestled the birthright from his brother by a combination of cunning opportunity and deceit.  The point was that Jacob wanted what Esau did not value and got it.  Even though Esau didn’t value his birthright, he hated the thought of being manipulated out of it and hated Jacob for it.  They became bitter enemies.  It was God’s plan that the birthright go to Jacob even though he wasn’t first in line for it.  God often has his reasons.  In this case it may just be that it was because Jacob would do anything to obtain the birthright.  We should consider this in the Christian context.  How much do we value our birthright by faith in Christ?  Would we sell it for a bowl of soup?  I know of such people who have turned their lives back over to sin once they have known the truth.  It is all a matter of the heart.  Jacob had a heart for the things of God even though he wasn’t perfect.  Esau had a heart for himself and his vengeance brought grief to Jacob’s descendants for a long time.

          This all came to a head when God called Judah to account for their sinfulness and allowed Babylon to carry them off into captivity.  Edom stood at the gate of Jerusalem and cheered their fall from grace.  They were Israelites in distant relationship but not at heart.  There are several messages here for us as Christians.  By faith in Christ we are brothers not only with Christ:

Mt:12:50  For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."

but with all Christians, and especially God’s chosen people, the Jews.  If there is ever vengeance to be had we must be reminded of:

Deut. 32:35  It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them."

Deut. 32:43  Rejoice, O nations, with his people, for he will avenge the blood of his servants; he will take vengeance on his enemies and make atonement for his land and people.

Indeed, we must not ever harbor rejoicing in our hearts over the downfall of any other person or people:

Illustration:  “Revenge - I’ll Fix Anthony”

Edom thought they had come of age and now they were going to have their day.  They forgot that the day belongs to God.  Their cheesy smile was about to be changed from Edom to Swiss.  It was about to be shot full of holes.

Application:  My relationship with my own brother.

Prov. 24:17 ¶ Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice,

18  or the LORD will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from him.

Edom was making a big mistake.  It was a matter of the heart.  Look again at the end of Psalm 137:7 where they ask God to remember what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell.  Is not the prophecy of Obadiah the answer?

I.       The Message from the Lord (v. 1)

          {a sovereign decree}

1 ¶ The vision of Obadiah. This is what the Sovereign LORD says about Edom-- We have heard a message from the LORD: An envoy was sent to the nations to say, "Rise, and let us go against her for battle"--

 

II.      The Abasement of Edom (vv. 2-9)

          A.      Edom’s Character (vv. 2-4)

                   {no heart for God}

                    1.       Edom’s future smallness despised (v. 2)

 

2  "See, I will make you small among the nations; you will be utterly despised.

 

                   2.       Edom’s present pride humbled (vv. 3-4)

 

3  The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, 'Who can bring me down to the ground?'

4  Though you soar like the eagle and make your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down," declares the LORD.

 

          B.      Edom’s Calamity (vv. 5-9)

                    {no grace from God}

                   1.       Edom’s ransacking (vv. 5-6)

 

5  "If thieves came to you, if robbers in the night-- Oh, what a disaster awaits you-- would they not steal only as much as they wanted? If grape pickers came to you, would they not leave a few grapes?

6  But how Esau will be ransacked, his hidden treasures pillaged!

 

                   2.       Edom’s entrapment (v. 7)

 

7  All your allies will force you to the border; your friends will deceive and overpower you; those who eat your bread will set a trap for you, but you will not detect it.

 

                   3.       God’s initiative (vv. 8-9)

 

8  "In that day," declares the LORD, "will I not destroy the wise men of Edom, men of understanding in the mountains of Esau?

9  Your warriors, O Teman, will be terrified, and everyone in Esau's mountains will be cut down in the slaughter.

 

III.    The Charge Against Edom (vv. 10-14)

          A.      The Reason for the Charge (v. 10)

                   {violence against his brother Jacob}

 

10 ¶ Because of the violence against your brother Jacob, you will be covered with shame; you will be destroyed forever.

 

          B.      The Explanation for the Charge (vv. 11-14)

                   {participation in Jerusalem’s trouble}

                   1.       The charge defined (v. 11)

 

11  On the day you stood aloof while strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them.

 

                   2.       The charge repeated and amplified (vv. 12-14)

 

12  You should not look down on your brother in the day of his misfortune, nor rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their destruction, nor boast so much in the day of their trouble.

13  You should not march through the gates of my people in the day of their disaster, nor look down on them in their calamity in the day of their disaster, nor seize their wealth in the day of their disaster.

 

Edom is symbolic of all Gentiles here in that they should not oppose God’s people.  The reason may be seen in verse 15 and amplified in Amos 9:11-12 that the nations shall be the inheritance of God and his Christ and of his people.  This is further explained in the application of the verse in Amos to Acts 15:16-17 where these inherited nations, including Gentiles, will seek the Lord.

 

14  You should not wait at the crossroads to cut down their fugitives, nor hand over their survivors in the day of their trouble.

 

IV.    The Judgment Upon Edom in the Day of the Lord (vv. 15-21)

          A.      The Judgment on Esau Like That of the Nations (vv. 15-16)

                   {according to their treatment of Israel}

 

15  "The day of the LORD is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head.

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.

 

          B.      The Deliverance of Jacob Over Esau (vv. 17-18)

                   {the rightful possession of inheritance}

 

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

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.

 

          C.      The Occupation of Edom (vv. 19-21)

                   {by the remnant of Israel}

 

19  People from the Negev will occupy the mountains of Esau, and people from the foothills will possess the land of the Philistines. They will occupy the fields of Ephraim and Samaria, and Benjamin will possess Gilead.

20  This company of Israelite exiles who are in Canaan will possess the land as far as Zarephath; the exiles from Jerusalem who are in Sepharad will possess the towns of the Negev.

21  Deliverers will go up on Mount Zion to govern the mountains of Esau. And the kingdom will be the LORD's.

(This last verse is the end result of all prophecy and the conclusion of all history.)


Conclusion:

          As a Christian, where is your heart with God and his people?  If you were there when the Germans were killing Jews by the millions in the death camps during the Holocaust, would you be saying in your heart that they were only getting what they deserve since they killed Jesus and God prophesied that it would happen?

          If someone you know gets AIDS from living a homosexual lifestyle, would you say in your heart that they are finally getting what they deserve and gloat over their downfall, even though they too may be a child of God?  What if you happen to get AIDS from an infected blood supply or needle during a medical procedure even though you are not homosexual?  Would people say you are getting what you now deserve?

          What about the pastor who falls into sin?  Do we gloat over God’s servant who fell, thinking in our hearts that we must not be so bad in our sin after all if even pastors fall?  Have we forgotten that there is none righteous, no not one?  There is no excuse for sin.  Neither is there any excuse for gloating over it.  We must weep over it and be driven to a greater degree toward our own repentance before Almighty God.

          How about the marriage that ends in divorce because the couple failed and refused to take godly advice?  Do we say in our hearts, “I told you so, this is what you deserve?”  How about the workmate caught in white collar crime?  We have observed his dishonesty and theft for years and wondered when he would get caught.  But did we try to help him, or did we just wait for his downfall?

          These are messages for us in Obadiah.  They are not messages for someone else.  God has bound all men over to sin that he might have mercy upon them all.  The idea is not retribution but restoration.  God doesn’t delight in the death of any man but wants all to come to repentance.  God wants to bring us back from sin.  But our hearts condemn us and drive us toward retribution.  We must not excuse sin, but we must have mercy upon one another as we would like God to have mercy upon us. 

          What about the Christian who backslides into sin and gives up the struggle?  Have we not rejected our birthright?  Have we not sold it out to feed the flesh like Esau?  Have we not sold out Christ our brother who bought that birthright for us with his own blood?  Have we not stood at the gate and taunted him who bore our sin for us?  Have we yet struggled in our resistance against sin to the point of shedding our own blood?  Do we crucify Christ all over again?

          Have we forgotten to pray for Israel?  Have we forgotten that as Christians, we will rule and reign with them in Christ?  Have we forgotten that in those days ten men of all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, “Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you,” presumably so they may be taken to Jerusalem to worship Christ?” (Zech 8:23)     

          Have we forgotten what happened to Haman in the book of Esther?  He, as well as many others, have not understood the intersection of history and prophecy regarding God’s people, Israel.  His plot to destroy the Jews in Persia and to hang Queen Esther’s foster father, Mordecai, on a 75 ft. gallows ended in his own death on that same gallows at the direct intervention of God.  Neither will the nations of the earth gathered together against Israel in the Valley of Armageddon survive due to the direct intervention of God.

          Those who have a heart for God will also have a heart for God’s people.  History and prophecy both proclaim it.  If you want to have a positive personal history, you must have a positive heart toward God’s people through whom God’s working in history is revealed.  And that includes other Christians who are also God’s children through faith in Christ.  And it includes those who are potentially God’s children through faith in Christ.  Let us then exalt the Author of our birthright in victory over sin.  Let us never discredit Him by falling into sin ourselves or even falling into the sin of pride at someone else’s downfall.  Both are paths to destruction.  Pride comes before our own fall.  If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.  It is the matter of a humble heart.

          Theology:  

                   1.       The aggressor reaps what he sows.

                   2.       Innocent victims will be exalted over the aggressor.

                   3.       Don’t oppose Israel.

                   4.       Don’t betray a brother.

                   5.       Don’t trash your birthright.

                             (For the Christian, this is the rights of our new birth.)


The Heart of the Matter

Obadiah              Sept. 14, 1997

 

I.       The Message from the Lord (v. 1)

          {a sovereign decree}

II.      The Abasement of Edom (vv. 2-9)

          A.      Edom’s Character (vv. 2-4)

                   {no heart for God}

                   1.       Edom’s future smallness despised (v. 2)

                   2.       Edom’s present pride humbled (vv. 3-4)

 

          B.      Edom’s Calamity (vv. 5-9)

                   {no grace from God}

                   1.       Edom’s ransacking (vv. 5-6)

                   2.       Edom’s entrapment (v. 7)

                   3.       God’s initiative (vv. 8-9)

 

III.    The Charge Against Edom (vv. 10-14)

          A.      The Reason for the Charge (v. 10)

                   {violence against his brother Jacob}

 

          B.      The Explanation for the Charge (vv. 11-14)

                   {participation in Jerusalem’s trouble}

                   1.       The charge defined (v. 11)

                   2.       The charge repeated and amplified (vv. 12-14)

 

IV.    The Judgment On Edom and the Nations in the Day of the Lord         (vv. 15-21)

          A.      The Judgment on Esau Like That of the Nations (vv. 15-16)

                   {according to their treatment of Israel}

 

          B.      The Deliverance of Jacob Over Esau (vv. 17-18)

                   {the rightful possession of inheritance}

 

          C.      The Occupation of Edom (vv. 19-21)

                   {by the remnant of Israel}


 

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