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Obadiah is a short prophecy of just 21 verses. It is undated, but (according to Dr. Bullinger) the internal evidence suggests it was written after the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. If so, this would make Obadiah a contemporary of Jeremiah, and this would explain why Obadiah is very similar to Jeremiah 49.
Furthermore, Obadiah explains more about “the day of the Lord” in Joel 2:1. Although Egypt was to be decimated, the prophet Joel singles out just one enemy in Joel 3:19,
19 Egypt will become a waste, and Edom will become a desolate wilderness, because of the violence done to the sons of Judah, in whose land they have shed innocent blood.
Obadiah focuses upon the conflict and ultimate defeat of Edom on account of their tendency to be bloodthirsty in violation of the law in Leviticus 17:10. “Esau is Edom” (Genesis 36:8), and Edom means red, and this relates directly to blood and bloodshed as set forth in many of the prophets.
Esau himself was bitter over his loss of the birthright, especially when his brother used deceit to snatch it out from under him. Thereafter, he and his descendants plotted to retake the land by force (Ezekiel 35:10; Malachi 4:2-4; Isaiah 34:8). They were the original Zionists of their time. After Edom (Greek: Idumea) was conquered by Judah in 126 B.C., they were absorbed into Jewry and were “hereafter no other than Jews” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, XIII, ix, 1).
The prophetic significance of this merger has yet to be fully appreciated by modern prophecy teachers, in spite of the multitude of end-time prophecies about the destruction of Edom. The fact is that world Jewry today is the only candidate on earth that can fulfill those prophecies, seeing as how Edom as a distinct nation ceased to exist.
Zionism is the spirit of Esau-Edom manifesting in today’s world. It comes complete with a tendency toward bloody violence in the attempt to take back the birthright by carnal means. Zionism does not seek to fulfill the responsibility given to Abraham to be a blessing to all families of the earth (Genesis 12:3). The Kingdom of God is based on love, which does not seek its own advantage (1 Corinthians 13:5) but instead follows the example of Christ.
Edom’s absorption into Judah (Greek: Judea) occurred nearly five centuries after Obadiah’s prophecy. This marked the start of Edom’s judgment, but not its completion. We see this especially in Isaiah 34:4-6, where Esau’s judgment is linked to an end-time prophecy,
4 And all the host of heaven will wear away, and the sky will be rolled up like a scroll; all their hosts will also wither away as a leaf withers from the vine, or as one withers from the fig tree. 5 For My sword is satiated in heaven, behold it shall descend upon Edom, and upon the people whom I have devoted to destruction.
Verse 4 is quoted in Revelation 6:13, 14 in conjunction with the opening of the sixth seal.
13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. 14 The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
The Zionism project is the object of divine wrath in our time. The spirit of Zionism is the spirit of Edom lodged in a portion of Jewry. Hence, Obadiah’s prophecy is of particular relevance in the end times, where the spirit of Edom has come to the forefront of world events.
Obadiah 1 begins,
1 The vision of Obadiah. Thus says the Lord God concerning Edom—We have heard a report from the Lord, and an envoy has been sent among the nations, saying, “Arise and let us go against her for battle”—.
This is a message (“report”) from God, sent by “an envoy” to the nations in general. The report is about Edom, but its purpose is to inform the nations of God’s established intention about dealing with Edom. In the past century—and particularly since 1948—the Zionist state has been a problem and an irritant to the nations. It is a problem which God intends to resolve at the end of the age during “the day of the Lord.”
2 “Behold, I will make you small among the nations; you are greatly despised. 3 The arrogance of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in the loftiness of your dwelling place, who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to earth?’ 4 Though you build high like the eagle, though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,” declares the Lord.
Edom has taken the eagle as its example in its attempt to remain secure high in the cliffs and even “among the stars” as a world power. It arrogantly thinks that it will never be brought down to the ground. But neither Edom nor any other nation can escape the judgment of God.
5 If thieves came to you, if robbers by night—O how you will be ruined!—would they not steal only until they had enough? If grape gatherers came to you, would they not leave some gleanings? 6 O how Esau will be ransacked, and his hidden treasures searched out!
This reflects the most extreme position that some Zionists have taken. They want the entire land of Palestine, going far beyond the UN mandate (Resolution 181) passed in 1947 calling for a two-state solution. The problem is that they want it all and will leave no “gleanings” for the Palestinian people to live. They have used war as an excuse to steal land, yet no amount of land is sufficient to satisfy their appetite.
The Israeli flag pictures two blue bars representing the Nile and the Euphrates. The Zionists claim all the land between these two rivers. They call it “Greater Israel,” and it includes Syria, Lebanon, and (some say) Jordan and the western part of Iraq. Meanwhile, Israeli settlers continue to steal hilltops within Palestine territory, gradually encroaching upon territory never allotted to them. There is no justice in this, and God expresses His view through Obadiah.
Still speaking to Edom, God says,
7 All the men allied with you will send you forth to the border, and the men at peace with you will deceive you and overpower you. They who eat your bread will set an ambush for you. (There is no understanding in him.)
This infers that the Zionists will be at peace with some of the surrounding nations, but in the end, they “will deceive you and overpower you.” At the present time, Israel has a peace agreement with Egypt and Jordan, but the recent war in Gaza is even now destroying those relationships. In 1967 and again in 1973, war with Israel resulted in Israeli victories. Therefore, the prophecy in verse 7 above remained unfulfilled.
In fact, the Israeli government only became more confident and arrogant that no one would ever be able to defeat them. Each victory in the past serves to lead them into a future trap.
This arrogance has been bolstered by countless Christian Zionists who encourage the Israelis to engage in ethnic cleansing to expel or kill all Palestinians—supposedly to fulfill the word of God. They do this because they are ignorant of the history of Esau-Edom, and many of them actually believe that the Palestinians are the Edomites today.
Virtually all historians know that Edom was absorbed into Jewry. It is even recorded in every Encyclopedia, including The Jewish Encyclopedia and The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia. It is well known to Jewish historians, who make no secret of this. So there is no excuse for this ignorance. Will not God hold these Christian Zionists accountable for pushing the Israelis into the final disaster?
8 “Will I not on that day,” declares the Lord, “destroy wise men from Edom and understanding from the mountain of Esau? 9 Then your mighty men will be dismayed, O Teman, so that everyone may be cut off from the mountain of Esau by slaughter.”
In biblical prophecy, a “mountain” is a place of high authority, that is, a nation. In Germany, it is a “berg.” In this case, “the mountain of Esau” is a reference to Esau’s inheritance in Mount Seir (Genesis 36:8; Ezekiel 35:2). Teman was an Edomite city founded by Teman, the son of Eliphaz, son of Esau (Genesis 36:11). The city was known for its learning and wisdom in those days. Yet their wisdom was of men and not of God. Paul discussed the difference in 1 Corinthians 2:4-16.
So also Jeremiah 49:7 affirms,
7 Concerning Edom. Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Is there no longer any wisdom in Teman? Has good counsel been lost to the prudent? Has their wisdom decayed?”
One must tune in to the wisdom of God to have true understanding, and this is accomplished through the spirit, rather than through the soul, as Paul teaches us. It is by revelation, not by mere philosophical study.
Obadiah 10 continues,
10 “Because of violence to your brother Jacob, you will be covered with shame, and you will be cut off forever.”
It is interesting that God does not speak about the wrong Jacob did to his brother Esau when he deceived his father. God had already built justice for Esau into the plan, and everyone was required to leave it in God’s hands until the appointed time. The Edomites could not wait, however, and so they always sought to use their own carnal strength to obtain justice.
I have shown elsewhere how Jacob himself lacked sufficient faith that God was capable of giving him the birthright. He thought his father was making a mistake when he intended to pass the birthright down to Esau, so he took matters into his own hands. God had to train Jacob for a long time until he had faith in the total sovereignty of God. Only then was he given the name Israel.
On the other hand, God never trained Esau in matters of faith. Hence, Esau and his nation would never please God. Hebrews 11:6 says, “without faith it is impossible to please Him.”
Esau’s carnal reaction, then, was to take matters into his own hands and to do violence to Jacob. For this he is condemned through the prophet. Obadiah 11 continues,
11 “On the day that you stood aloof, on the day that strangers carried off his wealth, and foreigners entered his gate and cast lots for Jerusalem—you too were as one of them.”
The Edomites stood on the sidelines and refused to help their brother Jacob-Israel when the Babylonians took Jerusalem. In fact, Ezekiel 35:10 addresses Edom, saying,
10 Because you have said, “These two nations and these two lands [Israel and Judah] will be mine, and we will dispossess them,” although the Lord was there, 11 “therefore as I live,” declares the Lord God, “I will deal with you according to your anger and according to your envy which you showed because of your hatred against them; so I will make Myself known among them when I judge you.”
In other words, Edom thought that the twin disasters that exiled the Israelites to Assyria and the Judahites to Babylon were an opportunity to take possession of the land that had been denied to them for centuries. In this we clearly see the spirit of Zionism in Edom.
Obadiah 12, 13, 14 gives wise counsel to Edom:
12 “Do not gloat over your brother’s day, the day of his misfortune. And do not rejoice over the sons of Judah in the day of their destruction. Yes, do not boast in the day of their distress. 13 Do not enter the gate of My people in the day of their disaster. Yes, do not gloat over their calamity in the day of their disaster. And do not loot their wealth in the day of their disaster. 14 Do not stand at the fork of the road to cut down their fugitives; and do not imprison their survivors in the day of their distress.”
No one ought to gloat over another man’s disaster, even when that man is under divine judgment. We should all simply learn the seriousness of persistent sin without repentance, and we should thank God that He has opened our eyes to see the truth. Learning from the example of Jacob, we ought to thank God for training us in the principles of faith so that we may become qualified to be given the name Israel.