Sunday, October 9, 2011

Obadiah's future prophecy regarding Jordan

Obadiah is the shortest book in the OT and the least is known about its author. Obadiah was a very common name in those days, and so was its nickname, Obed. Obadiah is a minor prophet but his words were nonetheless striking and powerful.

Through the words the LORD told the prophets to say, we can see clearly that the prophets, minor and major, spoke to all the nations. The prophets were not just speaking to Israel or Judah, they spoke to Edom (Obadiah), to Nineveh (Nahum and Jonah), to the Gentile nations (Zephaniah.) This shows us that God is the God of all nations and peoples.


Obadiah's prophecy is against Edom. Edom is part of what we know today as Jordan. Jordan is comprised of the three tribes of Edom, Moab, and Ammon. Amman is the capital of Jordan today. Edom was the land founded by Esau, the hated twin brother of Jacob. If you remember, Esau despised his birthright and sold it for a bowl of soup. (Gen. 25:29-34). After that, Esau took off and left his brother.(Gen 36:6). Obadiah's prophecy is rife with the reap-sow principle, and what Esau did in despising his Godly birthright will come back to him, heaped upon his head. "See, I will make you small among the nations; you will be utterly despised." (Obadiah 1:2).

Jacob and Esau, "Jacob I have loved, Esau I have hated." (Romans 9:13) and Malachi 1:2-3 "Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” the LORD says. “Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.”

Edom had always fought against Israel, even in the womb, "And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan-aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian. And Isaac entreated the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the Lord." (Gen 25:20-22). The LORD replied,

"And the Lord said unto her, 'Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger." (Gen 25:23). And so if you ever wonder why there is always so much hatred against Israel, why the Jews and the Arabs cannot seem to get along, it was that way from the beginning. So saith the LORD.

Edom usually lost the battles and was subjugated to Israel, but when Edom wasn't fighting against Israel the nation was laughing and taunting its brother, or joining in with pillaging when it seemed safe to do so. God however is not mocked and Edom's culpability at even standing silent when Israel was raped and pillaged will be judged in the latter days. "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. You should not look down on your brother in the day of his misfortune," (Obadiah 1:11).

And of course, Edom's culpability at performing violence against Israel will also be judged. "Because of the violence against your brother Jacob, you will be covered with shame; you will be destroyed forever." (Obadiah 1:10)

None of this has happened yet. Jordan is certainly not destroyed forever. Richard T. Ritenbaugh of Forerunner Commentary writes, "Recognizing the internal time markers in Obadiah is vital to understanding the prophecy. This little book confirms, not only Edom's part in the confederacy against Israel, but also that the evil alliance is joined at the end time. In Obadiah 1:15, 21, clear indicators of the end time appear:"

"For the day of the Lord upon all the nations is near; as you have done, it shall be done to you; your reprisal shall return upon your own head. . . . Then saviors shall come to Mount Zion to judge the mountains of Esau, and the kingdom shall be the Lord's. The prophecy will begin to be fulfilled in the years prior to the Day of the Lord, and ends as the millennial reign of Jesus Christ commences."

Obadiah's prophecy can be outlined simply, Ritenbaugh says:

» Verses 1-4: God's pronouncement of judgment on Edom.
» Verses 5-9: How Edom will be annihilated.
» Verses 10-14: Why Edom will be annihilated.
» Verses 15-16: Edom and the Day of the Lord.
» Verses 17-21: Israel's complete triumph over Edom.

The prophecy upon the twins' birth that the elder shall serve the younger is seen in the final days prophecy. (Gen 25:23, Rom 9:12)

Jordan today is one of only two Arab nations to hold a peace treaty with Israel, Egypt being the other. Yet both these peace treaties are fast fading pieces of paper. King Abdullah of Jordan has said more than once he wishes they did not have a treaty with Israel. Just last week in a protest in Amman, protesters called for the scrapping of the peace treaty with Israel.

The elder will serve the younger...this will happen in the Tribulation. Daniel 11:41 says that: "He [antichrist] will also invade the Beautiful Land. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand." Jordan will be a lone nation who escapes conquest of the Antichrist. Why? It is the place that Jesus told the Jews to flee to when they see the Abomination of Desolation: to the mountains. (Mt 24:16). The mountains are the border between Israel and Jordan, and over those mountains is the rose-red city of Petra. I wrote about Petra and its function as sheepfold in the Tribulation, here.

Petra is the city you know from Indiana Jones, where a single person on a horse or in a small jeep can enter the protected cavern where the magnificent city had been carved from red stone. Its impregnability is one thing that gave Edom its pride in thinking they could never be vanquished. They will be vanquished, and the city will remain impregnable for the fleeing remnant, and thus, Esau's Edom serves the younger brother Jacob in protecting Israel throughout the rest of the Tribulation. The LORD'S word is true!

Ritenbaugh wrote, "Obadiah is a study in God's punishment of a people for the things that they have done. They will be made to suffer the consequences of their hostile attitudes and aggression against Israel, as well as their constant attempts to impede the purpose of God through Israel." Yet God's purposes can never be impeded, hallelujah!


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