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Obadiah

John Collins10/15/2013

Video available here: http://youtu.be/Y-LooXZjlUo

Another book of the Bible that you won’t find in William Branham’s recorded sermons from 1947 to 1965 is the book of Obadiah.  Although this is a very short book, it contains Words from God that might otherwise be missed, leaving our understanding of Old Testament scripture incomplete.  As with all books of prophecy found in the Old Testament, the book of Obadiah speaks concerning the current sin, God’s justice, and the coming Messiah.  When the Bible is studied without the book of Obadiah, we never have conclusion to the story of Jacob and Esau.  And by missing this book, we are missing an important reference that points the Day of the Lord to Christ, and Christ as the one who comes to restore Israel after falling under the Curse of the Law.

Esau, remember, did not value the birthright.  Before the two children were born, God promised Rebekah that her two sons would become the fathers of two divided nations, and Jacob would rule his older brother, Esau.  Receiving his father’s blessing, Jacob fulfilled God’s promise and rose to become the beloved Israel that God chose for the Messiah.

But there are a few very important things to notice about this story, especially coming from the teachings of Branham with regards to this story.  It was Rebekah who inquired upon the Lord, receiving the Word from the Lord with regards to Jacob and Esau.  A daughter of Bethuel the Aramean, Rebekah descended from a line of semi-nomadic herdsmen that originated in what is now Syria.  The Arameans tended herds in Biblical Aram (Syria) until migrating to Mesopotamia and integrating with the Assyrian and Babylonian people.

While the focus of this story is typically focused upon how Jacob tricked his father Isaac to receive the blessing, the book of Obadiah will turn your focus back to the Word of the Lord that came to Rebekah.  Though Jacob was the grandson of Abraham, his nature and disposition was more like that of Rebekah’s heritage.  Isaac favored the older Esau and his skills as a hunter, but Jacob was a much more mild-mannered personality that would have preferred the lifestyle of his maternal grandparents.  And Jacob, remember, was God’s choice to be the father of the stronger nation.

Having studied under a mostly male-dominated religious organization, many of the followers of William Branham overlook the importance of women throughout the history of the Bible.  Many would have expected God to have spoken directly to Isaac concerning the prophecy of the two nations, but instead, it was Rebekah received the Word from God.  And ultimately, it was Rebekah who was responsible for Jacob’s inheritance – she is the one that gave Jacob instructions for her plan of receiving the blessing.  Without Rebekah, Esau could have very well become the stronger of the two nations, and God’s promise to Rebekah would have gone unfulfilled. 

But God’s Word does not fail.

When God spoke to Rebekah, telling her that the older would serve the younger, this seemed like an impossible task.  The mild-mannered child who preferred the simple lifestyle would never seem like the type to produce warriors powerful enough to rule the children of the mighty Esau – and without the Hand of God controlling the outcomes, Esau would have surely been the stronger of the two. 

Without the book of Obadiah, historians do not have a timeline for the end of Edom, but they do have a trail of history describing the mighty Edom’s rise from their father Esau.  Egyptian history depicts Edom as a nomadic people that survive off of the watering holes in Egyptian territory until the Iron Age, when they finally settled around the 8th century BC west of the kingdom of Judah.  Edom stretched from the Sinai peninsula as far as Kadesh Barnea, and controlled three major ports on the Mediterranean Sea.  Esau made his home on Mount Seir, which was called the Mount of Esau, and rose into a power that grew into a threat for Israel as a nation.  Obadiah foretold the crumble of that nation, and the sin that turned God’s anger against them.

Dwelling on Mount Esau, the Edomites had a false sense of security in their own accomplishment.  Warring nations that rose against them struggled to conquer both the mountain and the well-fortified nation on top, and because of this fortification, Edomites gained pride in their establishment.  It was this pride that caused their downfall.  God condemned them for their pride, and specifically for their pride in their mountain fortress:

The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?  Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord.

Obadiah 1:3-4

But worse, Edom’s pride included selfishness.  As God was dealing with Israel for their failure to uphold the Old Covenant, Edom rejoiced in the punishment.  The older brother’s nation despised the younger, and the children of Esau felt as though they were stealing back the birthright.  Watching God’s justice being fulfilled against Israel, it would have surely seemed like the Word given to Rebekah had failed. 

But again, God’s Word never fails.

God sent Obadiah to condemn Esau for this pride, and to inform them that their celebration for the punishment of Israel would not go unnoticed.  Because of their selfishness, God was going to destroy the nation of Esau.

For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.  In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them.  But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress.

Obadiah 1:10-12

 But not only were they prideful and selfish, the people of Edom were scornful.  It was not enough for them to be filled with pride against the neighboring Israel during their punishment.  And it was not enough for them to rejoice in Israel’s calamity.  Edomites entered Israel to look upon their destruction, offering scorn instead of assistance.  Then, they plundered the fallen nation, stealing their posessions:

Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity; Neither shouldest thou have stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his that did escape; neither shouldest thou have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress.  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.

Obadiah 1:13-15

But the most important part of the prophecy of Obadiah points to the coming Christ.  Obadiah foretold the coming Day of the Lord, the day when the Messiah would come to overthrow the evil that had seemed to go unpunished.  Obadiah is yet another prophecy that firmly binds the fourth chapter of Malachi to the coming of Christ, and it would seem that this is the reason the book of Obadiah was avoided by William Branham.  Branham, remember, pointed the Day of the Lord described in the Old Testament to the “prophet that would one day come to restore,” but the Old Testament prophets pointed the Day of the Lord to the day when God would send a Savior to redeem them from the Curse of the Law.  To the Jews, the Day of the Lord was a great and terrible day for the evil nations like Edom that had risen against them unpunished.

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 continually, yea, they shall 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 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 saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the Lord's.

 

That last verse, “saviors,” in the original Hebrew was a word with multiple meanings, all of which pointed to the power of God.  Literally speaking, it was not plural “saviors” that would redeem, but rather multiple ways in which God would redeem them.

This same word is used in scripture as: avenged (1 time), avenging (2 times), brought salvation (2 times), deliver (27 times), delivered (8 times), deliverer (3 times), deliverers (1 time), deliverers who delivered (1 time), delivers (2 times), endowed with salvation (1 time), gained the victory (1 time), help (9 times), helped (5 times), preserve (1 time), safe (1 time), save (85 times), saved (33 times), saves (5 times), savior (13 times), victorious (1 time).

God was sending a Savior, and His name was Jesus.  God was sending a Deliverer, and that Deliverer would pay the penalty for the Old Covenant upon the cross.  God’s Only Son was going to Redeem the world from sin, and offer Himself as a sacrifice.  Christ’s atonement was the greatest event that this world would know, and become the greatest event that it has ever known.  A day was coming, and it was not Edom’s day – Edom was going to be destroyed.  It was not Israel’s day, they were fallen.

This day was the Lord’s.  The great and terrible Day of the Lord would restore Israel into the Grace of their fathers before the Law came to show them that they could never save themselves by works.  The Day of the Lord would bring power for the weak by sending the fire of the Holy Spirit from God.  On the Day of the Lord, the Lord would be One, and His Name would be One.  And all who believed in the Name of the Lord would be saved.

Peter, at Pentecost, explained the prophets of Old.  The Day of the Lord had come, and they had received power from on High.  Reading from Joel chapter 2, Peter declared the prophecy of Obadiah had been fulfilled – along with the prophecies of Isaiah, Zechariah, and others who announced the Day of the Lord.

But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words.  For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.   But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,

and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants[c] and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Acts 2:14-21

 

Peter says that this day had some.  The Day of the Lord had came and filled them with power.  And this day, the Day of the Lord, was prophesied in the book of Obadiah.


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