As parents we understand that if a child taunts and teases another child for being punished, the behavior will not be taken lightly. In fact, punishment is often (and rightly) administered to the taunting child for their unruly behavior. A comparable scenario was the purpose of the message, spoken by the prophet Obadiah, to the Edomites, descendants of Israel’s twin Esau, regarding their faults and impending punishment for the mistreatment of the “children of Judah” (12).
The small, single chapter, twenty-one verse book is significant because, among other things, it exposes the nature of our God.
True, the children of Israel had rebelled against God—again, and would be punished for seventy years. The prophesy is detailed in Jeremiah 25:11 (emp. added): “This whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.” Micah, one of the pre-exilic prophets, also foretold the event with great imagery: “Zion shall be plowed like a field, Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, And the mountains of the temple Like the bare hills of the forest” (3:12).
The Israelites’ punishment was sure, and the God of heaven was not going to relent in carrying it out, but the last thing He was going to stand for is their brothers’ evil behavior. Now the children of Edom (Esau), and the children of Israel (Jacob) had been at odds even in the womb. In fact, the LORD spoke to their mother Rebekah directly, saying,: ““Two nations are in your womb, Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger”” (Genesis 25:23). The “stronger” (not speaking of physical stature here), yet “younger” brothers’ punishment was something the “older,” yet weaker brother was unfortunately elated about. God, knowing and seeing all things (Hebrews 4:13), confronted the Edomites with the following truths, recorded in verses 12-14 (emp. added):
“You should not have
gazed on the day
of your brother
In the day of his captivity”
“Rejoiced over the
children of Judah
In the day of their destruction”
In the day of distress.”
“Entered the gate of
In the day of their calamity.”
In the day of their calamity”
“Laid hands on their substance
In the day of their calamity”
“Stood at the crossroads
To cut off those among them who escaped”
“Delivered up those
among them who remained in the day of distress.”
Because they performed such terrible actions, God administered punishment to them, recorded in verses 15-16 (emphasis added):
As you have done, it shall be done to you; Your reprisal shall return on your own head.For as you drank on My holy mountain. so shall all the nations drink continually . . . the house of Esau shall be stubble; [The house of Jacob/Joseph] shall kindle them and devour them, and no survivor shall remain of the house of Esau.” For the LORD has spoken.
What we can learn from this brief book is:
- God is just (Psalm 19:9): Punishment would be administered to the Israelites for their rebellious behavior; they knew why their punishment was coming and how they would be punished. Punishment and destruction would be administered to the Edomites; they knew why their punishment was coming, and how they would be punished. *Remember, punishment from God is only administered to those who need punishment; and the punishment from God is always fair. 🙂
- God is always watching (Hebrews 4:13), which is a very good thing because He sees all—good and bad. No one can flee from His presence (Psalm 139:7). If we, children of God, walk in the light (1 John 1:7), and take captive our thoughts (2 Cor. 10:5), our sins are constantly being covered over by the blood of His Son (1 John 1:7). He will avenge; we don’t have to worry if He sees what is going on in this world of sin, or if He’ll forget—He can’t and he won’t! Remember God’s words in Isaiah 66:1a: “Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool.”
- God restores His children (Hosea 14:4-7): Although the Edomites would not rebound from their downfall (Malachi 1:1-5), the Israelites, God’s chosen children would. God said there would be “deliverance” on Mount Zion and “holiness” (17). He said the “House of Jacob shall possess their possessions” and would “Be a fire” (17-18). We know that God did restore Israel to their home after the seventy years were completed. We also know that God, who redeemed us (John 10:16), His children, by the precious blood of His priceless Son Jesus, “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins,” (Colossians 1:14), also restores us completely when we truly repent.
Oh thank Him for His fairness, His watchful eye, and His desire to restore His children to Himself! ❤