OBADIAH 1:2; JONAH 1:1 – 4:11 and REVELATION 15:1–8
It is possible that Obadiah represents the oldest of the writing prophets due to his message concerning Edom. His message in fact will center on Edom seeing that they entered into the gate of Israel in the day of Israel’s calamity. They were clearly being opportunist in their desire to exploit Israel’s vulnerable state. This one chapter Book can be broken down into 3 parts.
1) The Judgement upon Edom (vs 1-14)
2) The Day of the Lord (vs 15-16)
3) The Restoration of Israel (vs 17-21)
The name “Obadiah” means servant or worshipper of Jehovah. He was one who lived up to his name as a faithful servant in declaring the Word of the Lord to Edom. There is one clear theme throughout this Book and it is judgement upon Edom. We have seen on previous occasions that the Edomites were constant enemies of Israel. Their territory was the region of land around the Dead Sea to the southeast and the southwest (Gen 25:30, 36:1). The history concerning the Edomites goes back to their father who was Esau. He was the firstborn of Isaac and Rebekah but the Word of the Lord spoke prophetically declaring that the elder would serve the younger (Gen 25:23). God in His foreknowledge knew that Esau would lightly regard the privilege and right of the first born. The question can then be asked as to why the Lord allowed for Rebekah to have twins? We know from scripture that all things work together for good so we have to just trust the sovereignty of God. Some have speculated that it was due to Jacob marrying into a family line that was displeasing to God. It would have been too much for Jacob to carry on all of these traits on his own. It is God who predestines based on His foreknowledge of knowing what man will do and the choices that man will make. God does not predestinate anyone to hell; it is His desire that all men would be saved. Still, he does know what man will choose to do. Yes, even though God predestines according to His knowledge of what man will do, man is still accountable for his actions.
God chooses to love Jacob and hate Esau. Is this fair and just? Yes, God is a merciful God and He dispenses mercy upon whom he chooses. We can become candidates for His mercy by making right choices. In the end it is God’s prerogative and it must be known that He is just. Remember, the offspring of Isaac is called to carry on the lineage of Abraham. The Word of the Lord often cites the following expression “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” so it is vitally important for the first few patriarchs to be of a purer stream. So right from the womb two very different lineages were separated. There are many warning to learn from Esau. He had the right of the firstborn but he despised it and saw it as having no value. He was willing to sell this honor and privilege for just a bowl of beans. His natural appetite superseded his hunger and respect for God. It is for this reason among others that Esau would not be granted repentance (Heb 12:17). We also saw in Amos his continual pursuing of Isaac with the sword. These are some of the reasons why the Lord had hatred for Esau. Let us never ever take our relationship with the Lord for granted.
One of the sins that passed on from Esau to his heirs was that of pride (vs 3). One of the fruits of pride is great deception. This is seen in the church of Laodicea which typifies many of the churches today. They were so caught up in pride that they did not recognize their own nakedness. One of the greatest counters to pride is humility; the ability to recognize God as being the source of every good thing in our lives. Edom dwelt in the cleft of rocks and saw themselves as eagles. It is abominable pride; seeing themselves as greater than others while also carrying a sense of invincibility. The Lord was making clear that He would bring them down. The judgement that will come upon them will be thorough and complete. Edom is one of three nations that were enemies to Israel while being related to them. Edom, Moab and Ammon are actually tied to Israel by bloodline. These 3 nations comprise modern day Jordan. As distant relatives one would think that Jordan would defend them against oppressors from other places. Edom of old did not defend Israel and neither has modern day Jordan done so today. Their judgement will be severe. The judgement declared in verses 10-14 are those that will carry on to the end. They brought violence to Israel and they refused to help Israel in their time of need. The repulsive attitude of Edom is seen in verse 13 where they exploited the broken down ruins of Jerusalem. This account can be referenced in 2 Chron 21:8-10. It was during the reign of King Jehoram who married into the ungodly line of the northern kingdom. King Jehoshaphat, the father of Jehoram made an alliance with King Ahab resulting in the dreaded marriage of the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel being married to the son of godly King Jehoshaphat. Edom sought to exploit this vulnerability. The Philistines and Arabians came against Jerusalem and broke into the city. It was here where Edom came in as opportunists.
The Day of the Lord is declared in verses 15-16. The day of the Lord is a time of great judgement and the Lord was saying to Edom that He was going to do to them as they have done to their brother. God would allow Edom to be violated and destroyed in much the same way they were coming against Jerusalem. The description is clear for Edom; they will be devoured.
The Restoration of Israel is picked up in verses 17-21. It will be at the time of the Lord’s restoration to Israel when Edom will be ultimately judged. This would be at the time of the 2nd coming. There is a beautiful thought for the church and Israel in verse 17. It is a significant truth concerning Zion. There will be great deliverance and there will be the message of holiness. There is considerable debate in today’s church on this thought of holiness. There are churches who seek to live and elevate the standards of God as opposed to those who take issue with them. It was Korah who challenged Moses on the message of holiness resulting in his and other’s rebellion (Num 16:1-3). Once again we see why the study of the vision of Zion is so important.
There will be the time when there will be those upon Mt Zion who will judge the mount of Esau. This thought is brought out by Isaiah in Isa 61:1-4. The day of vengeance is a clear application to the time of the 2nd coming. The kingdom of modern Jordan is going to be severely judged at that time. This truth is reinforced in many places throughout the scriptures. Obadiah is a prophet who solely focuses his message upon Edom. There are other prophets who make mention of Edom in their prophecies but for Obadiah it is only Edom. There is no denying the level of disdain God has for Edom and its sins. What began in seed form with Esau has developed into this monster of pride, rebellion and viciousness. There were two manner of lines in Rebekah’s womb, one which led unto life bringing forth the Messiah and the other to a nation that embodies the things that God hates. This is why there is no repentance for Esau and why there will be severe judgements upon Edom at the time of the 2nd coming.
Jonah prophesied during the reign of King Jeroboam II who was the King of Israel. Jonah was a prophet who was called of God to speak a message to Nineveh which was the capitol of Assyria. We gain many insights into the some of the challenges that a prophet of God may go through in being called into service. Jonah’s name means “dove”. A bit of background concerning the timing of his ministry can be found in 2 Kings 14:23-25. Prior to his call in prophesying to Nineveh, Jonah spoke of enlargement to Israel which indeed did come to pass. His primary mission was to go to Nineveh to prophesy of its destruction. Instead we find him going to Tarshish which was outside of God’s will. Why did Jonah resist this mission? Assyria had been wreaking havoc upon Israel over the course of many years. Jonah had unforgiveness in his heart and he had no desire to preach there because he knew that many would repent and that God would spare them. This is not what Jonah wanted. He wanted them judged and he wanted them judged now. Worse, he is being called to be the instrument of preaching that could well stay the hand of God upon them. This went totally against his inclination and desire. He wanted them destroyed. We will look to do a quick survey through this Book. Here is a simple outline.
1) Jonah’s call to Nineveh and his rebellion
2) Jonah’s deliverance from the belly of the whale
3) Jonah sent to Nineveh
4) Jonah’s reaction and God’s Dealings
Jonah after receiving his commission to go to Nineveh instead turned southwest and headed towards Tarshish. Jonah thought by simply running away from his call that all would be well. He soon found out otherwise. While in route on the boat to Tarshish the Lord allowed a fierce storm to arise upon the sea. All the men were afraid and they called upon their gods but the storm continued on. They even cast their goods overboard in their efforts to keep the ship from breaking up. They found Jonah asleep and challenged him to seek his God for relief. After casting lots they came to know that Jonah was somehow responsible (vs 7-8). Jonah told them what had happened and offered himself to be cast overboard so that the storm would abate. This was honourable on his part however the men still sought to find a way to get to shore. The Lord prevented them because there was a message that needed to be accomplished.
Finally, in desperation they had no alternative but to cast Jonah overboard. It was Jonah who put the lives of these men at risk due to his fleeing from the call of God that was upon his life. The moment he was cast overboard the storm ceased. This even put greater fear into the hearts of these men and as a result made offerings to God. In the making of vows it could well be that these men were converted which makes Jonah’s detour a profitable one in the end for these men. Interestingly, the Lord prepared a great fish (whale) for an appointed purpose. Here again we see a strong portrayal of the sovereignty of God. The Lord goes to the length of preparing a whale to swallow up his prophet for a designated number of days and it is all for a divine purpose. In fact, the Lord Himself refers to this incident in Math 12:40. The Lord likens Jonah’s experience of being in the belly of the whale for the 3 days and nights to his soon coming experience of being in the belly of the earth for 3 days and 3 nights.
It is amazing trying to figure how Jonah survived for that period of time in the whale. It would have been total darkness with all kinds of decomposing fish and ocean sentiment around him. It is said of whales that they do not eat like other mammals and beasts. They (whales) swallow whole and there must have been pockets of oxygen that enabled him to be sustained during those 3 days. Jonah cried out in the midst of his ordeal and the Lord heard him. Jonah saw this whole episode of the sovereign hand of God upon his life. He knew that God was at work and he held no animosity whatsoever towards the men on the boat who threw him overboard. It is obvious that Jonah had understanding of scriptures as he is using variation of several Psalms in his pleas to the Lord. An example would be verse 5. Compare this to David’s prayer in Psalm 18:5. This is why it is good having the Word of God within us. It can bring life and perspective to our current environment. Perhaps Jonah was referencing Psa 77:19 when he talked about going up and down the mountains in verse 6. In any case the scriptures can help us in time of dire need as we call to mind some of the experiences that others had gone through. This is evident with the Lord when He went through His trials. There are many verses he was able to apply to himself.
The Lord was after a certain stronghold in the life of Jonah. The Lord speaks that we are to love our enemies and to do good to those who spitefully use us. Jonah did not want the Ninevites to repent. He clearly knew that they would repent if he were to preach to them and it angered him that he was called to go forth with this message. This is an attitude we need to have checked in our lives. It helps us to appreciate the capacity that is seen in God to love people who do not reciprocate. In spite of the horrific atrocities that the Assyrians were guilty of, God yet afforded them an opportunity to repent. When reading the words of Jonah in verse 9 one gets the sense that he at one time had made vows unto the Lord to do whatever the Lord would require. Apparently, God was coming for those words at this time. In verse 10 the Lord speaks to the whale and he vomits Jonah out of his mouth. It is clear that the Lord has control over the animal kingdom.
Jonah is now to go forth and fulfil his commission to Nineveh. In verse one we see the God who affords second chances to His people. He is a God of long-suffering and forgiveness. Jonah repented of what he did and it was enough to move the heart of God to give him a second chance. He paid a great price in not obeying the Lord the first time. We need to have this attribute at work in our lives in not giving up on people until and unless the Lord or circumstances would say otherwise. There are many examples in scripture where this attribute of God can be found. You have John Mark, the Prodigal and the account of the broken and marred vessel (Jer 18). Jonah went forth to Nineveh which was the capitol city of Assyria. The Lord gave Jonah a very simple yet direct message. In 40 days Nineveh will be overthrown. The Spirit of the Lord was upon Jonah resulting in the people believing God, seeking a fast and repenting before the Lord. The revival and repentance was so deep that even the king was moved. It was a national repentance. Remember, these were the Assyrians who were guilty of great atrocities. They turned from their evil way and became peaceful and non-violent. The Lord took note of their repentance and was moved to not follow through on the destruction He was about to bring. This is the power of true repentance. This is why the familiar verse of 2 Chron 7:14 has such popularity. If only a nation and a people would learn to take this position on a more consistent basis. The nations of the world today are in need of a mighty move of God. There is precedent for our day. The lawlessness is increasing by the day. Sin is being flaunted and exercised in virtually every part of the world. There is power in the prayer of repentance. It has to first be given by God. Secondly, a man a church and a people need to carry the burden of God’s heart. I do believe there is a great revival to come before the ultimate judgements will be poured out. Assyria did repent but it was a matter of time before they slipped back to their arrogant and violent ways. Will there be such a reprieve to the church, to the USA before the end time judgements? Personally I believe it is scriptural and that it will happen.
We now see Jonah’s reaction to the events from the previous chapter. It is amazing to see how angry Jonah is even after a significant ministry campaign in Nineveh. The level of unforgiveness was quite high in him. Have you ever come away from experiencing a successful time of ministry and feeling angry about it? The Lord still anointed him and allowed for him to have success in spite of his anger. It is one thing to be angry against a person or a nation and see God forgive them for atrocities. The problem that Jonah had was that God actually used him as His instrument. This helps for us to appreciate how God deals with a prophet. This is why we must seek the Lord in being clear of offenses. It is like a seed that quickly festers and grows. It becomes increasing difficult to extract with the passing of time. We will fail to grow in grace if we allow offenses to take root in our hearts (Heb 12:15).
It was the mercy of God that Jonah did not get away with his departure to Tarshish. He may have come to know a measure of success but he would have been outside the will of God. People would not normally equate God’s mercy with being thrown overboard into the mouth of a whale for 3 days. It was this act that brought Jonah to repentance so that he would have the 2nd chance to go to Nineveh to preach the Word. The mercy of God can work in very strange ways at times. It is God’s desire that we can learn to rejoice in restoration and in forgiveness toward our enemies. In the final verses of chapter 4 we see Jonah having more of a heart for a gourd that had withered and died than for a wicked people which came to a place of repentance. The matter of the gourd was for the purpose of letting Jonah see what was actually in his heart. Let’s face it; we all have our personalised gourd examples that can be used in our own lives. There are a few things that come to light in my own life as I am writing this. May God help for us to have a tender heart so that we learn to be sensitive to that which really matters. At the same time we need to seek the Lord for humility so that our hearts would be upright.
The last of the set of seven plagues is about to be poured out There is an angel for each of the vial judgements that is about to be released. There was a series of events that took place between the blowing of the 7th trumpet and the beginning of the vial or bowl judgements. The past few chapters of Revelation (10-14) revealed these different events. We now return to the series of judgements.
In verse 1 it speaks of the wrath of God now coming to its fullness. God has answered the prayer of many saints through the years of man but we are now entering the final stages in the lead up to the 2nd coming. The cumulative prayer of martyrs in addition to the ripeness of sin is bringing iniquity to the brim. In verse 2, we see a group of overcomers who were able to maintain their testimony in the midst of great trials. They gained a victory over the beast. They are seen standing on a sea of glass praising the Lord who had helped them to remain true and steadfast. This group is seen singing the song of Moses which is found in Exo 15:1-21. There is another variation that is found in Deu 32:1-43. The primary theme in this song is that of triumph. The Lord has already overcome the evil one at Calvary but the privilege is now being given to the saints.
Psa 149:6 Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand;
Psa 149:7 To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people;
Psa 149:8 To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron;
Psa 149:9 To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD.
In verses 5-6 we see activity taking place around the throne in heaven. We earlier saw activity from the heavenly temple when the beast offered the abomination of desolation. Here we have 7 angels coming out of the holy of holies ready to go forth to carry out their mission of dispensing the last of the judgements. They are clothed in white linen which speaks of holiness and righteousness. They are coming forth from the place where the law of God was kept. The reason for the judgements was due to the violation of God’s Laws upon earth. There is little representation of a people who uphold God’s Law at this time. We can even say the same for today as lawlessness abounds. These angels have the look of the true priestly and kingly anointing. This is why we need to emulate these ministries today.
As these angels come forth it is the 4 beasts that surround the throne that give the vials or bowl judgements for them to dispense. At this time the temple is so filled with the glory of God that no man is able to enter until the last of the 7 plagues has been poured out. There is an interesting alignment and interaction between heaven and earth at this time. How can one describe such an event? When you look at the lawlessness that abounds in the earth today it helps to give credence that these above events cannot be too far off. It is scenes like this that also helps us to appreciate the significance of having the laws of God written upon the fleshly tables of the heart. These messages should help to spur us on to press in to all that God has for our day.