Summary: Heathen nations may rejoice for a season, but God’s day is coming.
The Day of the Lord
Tonight as we finish our study in the book of Obadiah, let’s briefly review what we’ve learned so far. We learned that the book dealt with God’s judgment on the nation of Edom for its sin of pride. Edom is the nation that descended from Esau, the brother of Jacob. The two brothers maintained great animosity toward one another for many years, and though they seemed to finally make peace, the two resulting nations continued with these feelings of animosity. Remember that Edom refused to allow Israel passage through their land when they were trying to reach the Promised Land under the leadership of Moses.
God said in Malachi that He hated Esau, and the reason He hated Esau, or Edom was because of their pride. They were proud of their national defenses, their strong allies and their superior wisdom, and that pride was manifested in their treatment of their brother Israel when the Babylonians attacked Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar. When Babylon descended on Jerusalem, the Edomites stood by watching. They laughed and mocked and even encouraged the enemy to destroy the place. When the battle was over they went into the city themselves to steal and loot anything that was left behind, and then in a final display of hatred they rounded up all the refugees they encountered and handed them over to the Babylonians.
How did God feel about all of this? Well, that’s what we’re going to find out in verses 15-21. Let’s read the rest of this little book and see what Obadiah said to Edom, but as we do, I want to point out some important lessons that we need to learn from what is said.
“For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head. For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been. But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it. And they of the south shall possess the mount of Esau; and they of the plain of the Philistines: and they shall possess the fields of Ephraim, and the fields of Samaria: and Benjamin shall possess Gilead. And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; and the captivity of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the south. And saviors shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD’s.”
Notice the first little word in this section. It is the word for. It means because. Now go back to verse 12. You, Edom, should not have…Verse 13, you should not have…Verse 14, you should not have…Obadiah tells the Edomites quite plainly that they shouldn’t have acted so violently toward their brother Israel, and why? Why should they not have done all they did? Because the day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen.
That’s quite a statement. Listen, if you think for a moment that God doesn’t remember our behavior, we ought to think again. The Edomites practiced this animosity toward their brothers for centuries, and while they might have thought they were getting away with it God was keeping His record.
Ecclesiastes 8:11 says,
“Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.”
Why doesn’t He always execute judgment immediately then? The Bible says that the “Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.” It says that “The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.” Why doesn’t the Lord execute judgment right away? Because He is longsuffering and He gives us space to repent and turn toward Him. Why didn’t He just wipe out Sodom and Gomorrah when He first wanted to? Why didn’t He just clean the city of Nineveh right off the face of the earth? Why did He bother with a Jonah? Because His desire is repentance, not judgment.
Edom would not repent though, and because they wouldn’t repent, Obadiah told them that the day of the Lord was near upon all the heathen, or nations. Now we consider this a split prophecy, because it had an immediate fulfillment on the nation of Edom, but its ultimate fulfillment will take place when the Lord returns.