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God Speaks [6-2-24]



June 2, 2024

Obadiah

“God Speaks”


I’m having more fun than a human being should be allowed to have working through the shortest book in the Old Testament.


We’re not even close to getting into the actual text of Obadiah. We still have too much background information to set up.


We left off last week with the importance of Edom. The Edomites are crucial to understanding Obadiah. Obadiah was written with the Edomites in mind. While his primary audience was the Jewish people, it is safe to say that his secondary audience was the Edomites. It’s not far-fetched to assume they heard these words. One way or another, the Edomites read or heard Obadiah.


The Edomites were descendants of Esau. To refresh our Patriarchal History, Esau was the firstborn son of Isaac. Who was Isaac? He was the firstborn of Abraham. And who was Abraham? He was the father of the covenant. Abraham was chosen by God to establish His people. This was all part of God’s sovereign plan to build a nation to lead to a Savior, who is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. All this took place over 1,000 years before Jesus was born. Amazing.


Here's what happened with Esau. He and Jacob were twins, born to Isaac and Rebekah. Most of us learned the names of the three patriarchs of Israel – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – Abraham was called by God…Isaac was the firstborn of Abraham…and then it should have been Esau. He was the first born of Isaac. Except either his stomach or his stupidity or both got the better of him.


Genesis 25:29-34 tells us how it went down:

Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.) Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.


Edom is a rare Hebrew word. Masculine in form, it means, literally, “red.” It referenced the red lentil stew for which Esau sold his birthright. Edom also referenced the land south of the Dead Sea. It pointed to the red sandstone which was so prominent. And guess what? That’s where Esau moved his family. He gave up his birthright, yet God continued to care for him. Don’t forget, he was still a child of the covenant, being a grandson of Abraham and Sarah. So God still provided for him, according to the promise. While people are stupid and rebellious and sinful, God remains true to His promise. He works according to His sovereign will in spite of us.


Thinking about Esau reminded me of a quote I recently read. The context        

was unregulated and uncontrolled immigration, but it also applies to Esau and one of the themes in Obadiah:

“Anyone who is not defending, maintaining, and gatekeeping the things they love and care about will watch them decay and eventually be destroyed.”

  • Auron Macintyre


How appropriate is that in light of Esau’s treatment of his birthright? As Genesis said, “He despised his birthright.” A result of that fateful decision was things went from bad-to-worse between Jacob and Esau. Yet God continued to provide for Esau and his descendants.


Keep in mind, we’re building toward who Edom was. Edom figures prominently in Obadiah.


After Esau’s boneheaded move, things continued to deteriorate in his relationship with Jacob. While their father, Isaac, was horrified by the turn of events, Esau resorted to whining. He pleaded with his father for the birthright he so cavalierly gave up. In bitterness, Esau vowed to kill his 

brother, Jacob, after their father died. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Families can be a real mess. Esau pledged to stab his brother to death.


At least, that’s what Jacob expected. The estranged brothers were off growing their families and economies far away from each other. And then Isaac died. Jacob, remembering the threat from his twin years ago,             planned a lavish gift for Esau. He hoped to dissuade Esau from his sworn path. Boy, was Jacob wrong. Genesis 33 reports {and we’re going to read most of the chapter, it is so rich}:

And Jacob lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two female servants. And he put the servants with their children in front, then Leah with her children, and Rachel and Joseph last of all. He himself went on before them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.

But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. And when Esau lifted up his eyes and saw the women and children, he said, “Who are these with you?” Jacob said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” Then the servants drew near, they and their children, and bowed down. Leah likewise and her children drew near and bowed down. And last Joseph and Rachel drew near, and they bowed down. Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company that I met?” Jacob answered, “To find favor in the sight of my lord.” But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.” Jacob said, “No, please, if I have found favor in your sight, then accept my present from my hand. For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me. Please accept my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.” Thus he urged him, and he took it.

Then Esau said, “Let us journey on our way, and I will go ahead of you.” But Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are frail, and that the nursing flocks and herds are a care to me. If they are driven hard for one day, all the flocks will die. Let my lord pass on ahead of his servant, and I will lead on slowly, at the pace of the livestock that are ahead of me and at the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.”

So Esau said, “Let me leave with you some of the people who are with me.” But he said, “What need is there? Let me find favor in the sight of my lord.” So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir. But Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built himself a house and made booths for his livestock. Therefore the name of the place is called Succoth.


Here's where Edom comes in. Esau’s descendants were called the Edomites. While Jacob and Esau made peace, Esau’s descendants could not let go of the past. They regularly opposed Israel. Sometimes it involved direct fighting. Other times they pummeled Israel when they were knocked down by another.


Think about it. All this horribleness started because Esau would have rather had his cravings satisfied than receive God’s blessing. Hebrews 12:15-17 

uses Esau as a warning:

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root 

of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.


There was a root of bitterness buried deep in the soul of Esau’s descendants. And it comes into play in Obadiah. Which leads us to a good closing observation. A wise person once said:

“BELIEVERS, STOP IDENTIFYING WITH YOUR STRUGGLES. INSTEAD, IDENTIFY WITH YOUR SAVIOR.”

Obadiah will consistently point us in the direction of our Savior.


Paul’s words in Philippians 4:6-9 keep us locked into that truth:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ 

Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me - practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

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