Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Obadiah- Sermon Notes

Sermon Notes
There is a Day of Reckoning
June 21, 2015
Lynchburg, Virginia

         Obadiah prophecies concerning Edom. Edom, as you know, are the descendants of Esau. Thus, the language of Edom standing against his brother. Esau was the brother of Jacob and there is an ancient enmity between the two. Through the years, Edom allied with the enemies of Israel instead of defending them.
         Additional allies of the Edomites were the Ammonites and the Moabites. If you recall, Ammon and Moab were the sons of Lot by his own daughters after he escaped from Sodom. Thus, the Ammonites and Moabites were also connected to Israel and should have been defenders, brothers, but found themselves opposing God’s people.
         The date of Obadiah is debatable. The context seems near the judgment on Jerusalem but most doubt whether Obadiah was that close to the destruction of Jerusalem and put the date closer to the destruction of Samaria.
         The message of Obadiah is that God is keeping track of such things. It may seem that God’s enemies have gained the upper hand. They oppose God and His people and get away with it. Why does God not act? But we would be wrong to think that God does not see, that He does not keep account, that He does not act. There is a day of reckoning.
         1 The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning Edom; We have heard a rumour from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle.
         Obadiah declares that the time of battle against Edom has come.

2 Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised.  3 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? 
Edom was lifted up in pride in their security but God is not thwarted by the seeming power of nations.

4 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.  5 If thieves came to thee, if robbers by night, (how art thou cut off!) would they not have stolen till they had enough? if the grapegatherers came to thee, would they not leave some grapes?
The eagle is highly exalted among the raptors. He soars on high, catching the drafts and dwells among the rocks and tall trees where there are no natural predators. He is safe. But God created the stars. They exist by His pleasure. As high as the eagle, a star is ever greater. His is not safe!
No, they would have stolen to the uttermost. They would have gathered all the grapes. God will leave you desolate!

 6 How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up!  7 All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border: the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee; they that eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee: there is none understanding in him.
The ancient enemies of Israel were there ancient allies of Edom, namely, Ammon and Moab. These three were all connected to Israel in the past. Edom is the descendants of Esau. Ammon and Moab are the incestuous sons of Lot.
Edom has made alliances that he thought would make him secure but God has sought him out and now Edom is deceived. His judgment is upon him before he realizes the truth.

8Shall I not in that day, saith the LORD, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau?  9 And thy mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter.
The men of wisdom and understanding have ceased in the land. There is no one left to warn of the calamity, except Obadiah, and none will hear him.

10   For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.  11 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.
This language seems to date Obadiah near or after the fall of Samaria but before the fall of Jerusalem. Edom joined in the forced removal of Jews from the land. The enemies have their eyes on Jerusalem but Edom does not defend them. He seeks his share of the spoil.

12 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.  13 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;  14 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. 
Edom looked upon the distress of Israel and Judah in victory. They were glad for their downfall and rushed in to take advantage. They were in confederacy with God’s enemies.

15 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.  16 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 God declares against them, “You shall reap what you have sown.” They will drink the wine of God’s wrath with the heathen nations.

17   But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.  18 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. 
But God will deliver His people. This language of fire is quite expressive. Esau, Edom will be the stubble that the house of Jacob shall burn and devour.

19 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.  20 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. 
As we have made our way through Hosea, Joel, and Amos, we have seen partial answers of restoration. So, have we here. Jacob will be restored and possess the land of the Edomites. But this language is bigger than any historical restoration. Thus, we see the complete fulfillment of this promise as future. That restoration can only happen when the Messiah arises and places all the kingdoms beneath His feet.
The captives end up possessing all the land, the land of Esau to the South and East, the land of the Philistines to the West, the land of Samaria to the North, essentially possessing all the land of Israel and her enemies.

21 And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD’S.
This is again the echo of Psalm 2, the kingdoms shall belong to Yahweh!

          Certainly, one way to understand Obadiah is that God is taking of account of all the wrongs in the world and He will set them right. We do not count as He does. As time passes in our day, it seems that God is not taking account. It seems that the wicked do prosper and fill the land. It seems that God’s people are at the mercy of their enemies. But that is only as it seems.
We are not at the mercy of God’s enemies. The reality is that God’s enemies are not merciful. It is only God’s power and might that holds them back. Jesus is in the process of subduing the Earth and He chooses to use nations, rulers and even wicked nations and rulers, to do His bidding. He brings chastisement upon His people but He does not forget to defend them. He is taking account.
There is a dramatic difference in our day than in the days of Obadiah. The Savior has arisen. God has judged the heathen nations in His own Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is ruling all nations but we do not yet see all things, all nations in submission to Him. But we do see the beginnings of His dominion. The knowledge of the Lord is growing in the Earth.
Obadiah should be an encouragement to us. The enemies of God and of His people can gain the upper hand for a while. In the days of the Old Testament prophets, for a while, might be quite a long time. The days from the split of Northern and Southern kingdoms until the fall of Samaria was over 200 years. The days from the fall of Samaria until the fall of Jerusalem was another 136 years.
There are two things to note here.
One, God brought judgment upon the land of His own people in the fall of Samaria and the fall of Jerusalem. He did this while still preserving a remnant of the faithful for Himself. The remnant was among the people of Israel and Judah but not the same as. When Israel and Judah acted like God’s enemies, God brought judgment upon them, just as He judged their enemies.
Two, God does not forget His promises to His people. The promise of saving Israel is realized in Jesus. Jesus is the Savior of all of God’s people. But it is not historic ethnic decent that makes us part of God’s people. It is faith in Christ. One of the blessings of God’s judgment is that we get to see this truth is stark contrast. We do not hold our identity, our salvation, in anything other than the Lord Jesus, Himself.
Jesus saves us through the means of grace in the midst of His Church. His Church has no national boundaries. It is the church that fills the whole Earth. So, while we see nations come and go, we see blessing and cursing as a result of the waxing and waning of obedience, God always keep His Church in power, growing in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men. The Church is the one unstoppable force in the Earth.
With this in mind, we can take the encouragement from Obadiah. God is keeping count. Even today, when God’s enemies seem to get the upper hand, that is only as it seems. It is not really so. God is keeping account and there is a day of reckoning.
In our land, the established churches have forsaken God’s law, God’s Word and are looking more and more like God’s enemies. But God is clearing them out and raising up for Himself many who have not bowed the knee to Baal. In foreign lands, an Islamic caliphate is raising its ugly head but we shall soon see its demise, not because the U.S.A is almighty, or the Saudis finally see the threat and respond, or the middle eastern powers unite to protect their oil interests. Those powers may rise up against ISIS but the real power behind their demise is the spilled blood of Jesus and His saints. God is keeping account. There is a day of reckoning.
We can grind these truths down to a smaller point. God takes note of all the injustices in the world. He makes sense of our sufferings. He keeps account. We may live to see Him put some of these things right but it may take a lifetime or maybe even the blood of our lives to put the justice in motion. But do not forget that God is watching. He keeps account. This should be an encouragement to us.
But there is another sense is which this should keep us current with Jesus. Even when God’s friends begin to act like enemies, God keeps account. You cannot presume upon God’s friendship when you are disloyal. He does keep account. There is tremendous grace for us but there is accounting. There is a day of reckoning. You do reap what you sow.
This is true in your own personal life, your thought life, your reading habits, what you fill your mind with as you watch television, the movies, your computer. You reap what you sow. If you sow infidelity, you reap the same, towards or from your spouse. If you sow abdication in your finances, you reap financial ruin. If you sow careless parenting, you reap rebellion. There is a day of reckoning.
Maybe I got your attention? I don’t want to leave you in despair. You do not have to panic. God has provided a better way for you, a way of grace and mercy. He is slow to anger and quick to forgive. But turn now before calamity befalls you. Where sin abounds, there is much more grace.
And grace is not only in forgiveness. As we have studied in Joel, God is able to restore the years the locust has eaten. You do not have the ability to catch up, to reap different fruit or more than you have sown. But God does. He provides the increase. He heals lepers, creating fingers and toes and noses where there was none. God is able to fully restore that which was lost. This is the power of God’s Spirit in the glorious age of Jesus Christ. So, do not delay. Come to Jesus full of grace. Amen.

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