Obadiah 1


The fourth of the twelve minor prophets. We know nothing of him except what

we can gather from the short book which bears his name. The question of his date

must depend upon the interpretation of the 11th verse of his prophecy. He there

speaks of the conquest of Jerusalem and the captivity of Jacob as having occurred,

He probably refers to the captivity by Nebuchadnezzar, B.C. 688. It must have

been uttered at some time in the five years which intervened between B.C. 588

and 583. The book of Obadiah is a sustained denunciation of the Edomites,

melting into a vision of the future glories of Zion when the arm of the Lord

should have wrought her deliverance and have repaid double upon her enemies.

                                                                        (Smith’s Bible Dictionary)





The heathen nations are summmoned to take vengeanee on Edom. In spite of her

impregnable position, they shall bring her low and strip her of her wealth, being

aided and encouraged by her own allies.  (For a modern look at Edom, I

recommend Edom, Petra, on the internet! – CY – 2015)


The names given by the Hebrews were usually significant. The appellation

of this prophet was very commonly used, and is indicative of the fervid and

practical piety of the Israelitish people. Obadiah means “the Servant or

Worshipper of Jehovah.”  Piety is voluntary and cheerful in its nature. In a

sense all men are under Divine authority. But the giving of a name like this

implies a distinction among men, a willing devotion on the part of the pious to

the holy service of the Supreme.


 Obadiah, as a servant of the Lord received his instructions from his Master, with

whom he is in intimate communication.  The servant of the Lord is the agent in

conveying the Master’s will to his fellow men. This was especially the vocation of

the prophet, who spoke forth the mind of the Almighty to the righteous and to

the wicked, whether they would hear or forbear.


1 “The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning

Edom; We have heard a rumor from the LORD, and an

ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up

against her in battle.” The vision of Obadiah. This is the title of the book,

declaring from whom and through whom the revelation comes (Isaiah 1:1).

Under the word “vision” in prophetic language is included, not only what

the seer saw, the mental picture presented to his inner senses, but also all

that he is commissioned to disclose or enunciate. Thus saith the Lord

God concerning Edom. The prophet declares that God speaks through

him. One might have expected that the actual words of Jehovah would

follow here instead of tidings heard from him. And this difficulty has led

some to suppose these introductory words spurious or the insertion of a

later hand, others to include them and the rest of the verse in a parenthesis,

so as to begin the “vision” with God’s words in v. 2. But these

suggestions are unnecessary. The prophet, as the mouthpiece of God, calls

his own words the message of the Lord — signifies that what had been

revealed to his mind he was bound to communicate to others as a direct

warning from God. The Edomites were the descendants of Esau, and

bound by ties of blood to the Israelites; but they had always been their most

bitter enemies (Amos 1:11). They are regarded as a type of the powers

of the world hostile to true religion, whose end is destruction. We have

heard. “We” — I myself and other prophets; or the Judaeans, the prophet

identifying himself with his countrymen. Septuagint, ἤκουσα – aekousa –

 I heard, so Jeremiah 49:14; Arabic, “ye have heard.” A rumor; a report

(Isaiah 53:1); ἀκοὴν – akoaen – report; hearing - (Septuagint); auditum

(Vulgate). It means here “tidings” (compare Matthew 24:6, ἀκοαί πολέμων -

akoai polemon – rumors of wars: and Romans 10:16-17). An ambassador;

a messenger; as though the prophet saw the minister of God’s wrath going

forth among the heathen to rouse them to war against Edom. Perowne thinks

that there is an allusion to the composite character of Nebuchadnezzar’s army

with which he attacked the Edomites. The Septuagint renders, περιοχήν

periochaen – ambassador? - so the Syriac, Chaldee, and

Symmachus translate “message.” This rendering is explained by the

following clause. The heathen (goyim); the nations, as vs. 2, 15. Arise

ye, and let us rise. This has been taken as if “arise ye” were the herald’s

message, and “let us rise” the response of the nations echoing his words;

but it is more forcible to consider the whole clause as the message, the

ambassador joining himself with the heathen as their leader and comrade in

the war of vengeance. Vs. 1-9 are incorporated in Jeremiah 49:7-22.


Who was Obadiah.. Some have thought he was the pious steward of King Ahab

(I Kings 18:3); but  this idea is not in keeping with the evident date of the prophecy.

There are many other persons of this name in Scripture, but the prophet cannot be

identified with any one of them. We read of Obadiah of the tribe of Judah

(I Chronicles 3.); another of the tribe of Issachar (ibid. ch.7.); another of Benjamin

(ibid. ch.8.); another of Levi (ibid. ch. 9.); another of Gad (ibid. ch.12.); another of

Judah (II Chronicles 17.); another of Zebulun (I Chronicles 27.). We find, also, an

Obadiah — a Levite — in the time of Josiah (II Chronicles 34.); another a companion

of Ezra (Ezra 8.); and yet another a priest in the time of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 10.).

The name, therefore, was in very common use among the Jews; and this, not only

because it had been borne by some who were distinguished for their upright

character, but because it had a most instructive significance.


What is the meaning of his name?  It means “a Servant,” or

“a Worshipper of the Lord.” Let us note the import of both these.


  • A Servant of the Lord. Here we may each long to be similarly

            designated. David said, “O Lord, I am thy servant”  (Psalm 116:16);

            and the reason he gave for this was that his bonds had been broken by God.

            Moses was called “the servant of God.” And so, too, we meet with such

            words as these: “Abraham, my servant;” “David, my servant;” “Daniel,

            servant of the living God;” “James, a servant of God;” “Paul, a servant of

            Jesus Christ.” This blessed service is perfect freedom. Christ Himself came

            among us as the girded Servant. “I am among you as He that serveth.

            (Luke 22:27)  He was Jehovah’s righteous Servant. His disciples, therefore,

            can never rise above His example. They serve the living and true God.

            It was not always so. Before the bonds were loosed there was only slavery

            to sin and Satan and the world, but the emancipation has come. The freed

            ones serve their Redeemer-God. In faith, in love, in holiness, in patience, in

            meekness, in joyfulness, they serve, they work, they wait.


  • The seemed meaning of the name is a Worshipper of the Lord. And

            shall we not, every one, aim to be this? It implies much. Let us think about

            it. In New Testament light, worship means access to God. We are brought

            near by the blood of Christ’s cross. It is filial nearness. We may come with

            holy boldness by the blood of Jesus. It includes prayer in Christ’s Name.

            “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my Name, He will give it you. Ask,

            and ye shall receive.” (John 16:23-24)  Worship includes praise. “Whoso

            offereth me praise, he glorifieth me; (Psalm 50:23)  Praise is comely;”

            (Psalm 33; 147:1)  “Praise ye the Lord.” Worship includes the yielding of

            ourselves to God. “I beseech you by the mercies of God, that ye present

             your bodies living sacrifices.”  (Romans 12:1)  Worship includes the

            consecration of our substance to God. Of old His people were told not to

            come before Him empty. They were to present their first-fruits unto Him.

            They were first to consecrate, then enjoy. Giving was therefore a part of

            worship. It ought to be so now. Worship of Jehovah also involves a

            complete turning away from idols. There are idols of the heart.

            Covetousness is idolatry. There are many idols besides those of wood and

            stone. To be truly an Obadiah, a worshipper of Jehovah, we must say with

            Ephraim, “What have I to do any more with idols?”  (Hosea 14:8)  And one

            thought more on this point. In seeking to bear the designation of our prophet,

            let us remember this canon laid down by the blessed Saviour: “God is a Spirit,

            and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.

            (John 4:24)  Thus, then, we see that much is implied by the designation,

            “a worshipper of the Lord.” May we each be both “a servant” and

            “a worshipper” of THE LIVING GOD!


The Great Author of the book is GOD HIMSELF!  Obadiah was the ambassador,

the messenger, but the words are God’s. V. 1, “Thus saith the Lord God.” It

is this “Thus saith the Lordwhich gives such supreme importance to EVERY

WORD of the Bible. The histories, the prophecies, the precepts, the

invitations, the warnings, the exhortations, the revelations, the whole from

Genesis to the end, all come to us with the words of power, “Thus saith the

Lord.” Some minds may be perplexed as to what is said of creation; some

are exercised as to what is revealed about the judgment day, and of the

Divine wrath upon the wicked; others have difficulty in understanding the

moral government of the world; but the docile, humble-minded believer

takes this book as FROM THE HAND OF GOD!   On the top of every page he

sees, as it were, written in letters of golden light, “Thus saith the Lord.” Where

the word of a king is there is power. We have here the words of the KING

of kings. “By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the

host of them by the breath of His mouth.”  (Psalm 33:6)  That same Word upholds

all things by its glorious power. And here we have that Word in writing, and it

is God’s great revelation of His will. It is the chief means by which the Holy

Spirit quickens the dead in trespasses and sins, and revives the drooping

graces of his saints. “By thy Word thou hast quickened me.” (Psalm 119:50,93)

If you want any other proof of the power of the Word, read in the Revelation of

the doings of Him who was clothed in a vesture dipped in blood; and whose

name is “The Word of God.” John was inspired to write five books. In

the opening chapter of the first he describes the Word made flesh, and

dwelling among us. In the closing chapters of the last book he describes the

Word in the blood dyed vesture. It is the union of these truths which gives

such power to the written Word. God has spoken to us by His Son. “The

testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10)  Let us, then,

take heed how we hear.  (Luke 8:18)  We all need to be attentive to the Word.

Oh that Christ’s high-priestly prayer were true of each of us, “I have given unto

 them the words which thou gavest me, and they have received them ....Sanctify

them through thy truth: thy Word is truth”!  (John 17:8,17)  Let us seek to

“receive” all the words which have been given us. They have received them. May this be

true of us, and may we be sanctified more and more by the Word!

“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy Word is truth.”  (ibid.)



                                                The Vision (v. 1)


The designation sometimes given to the prophet, “the seer,” corresponds

with language which is in many places employed to denote the act of

communion with God, by which the honored servant was qualified for

discharging his sacred office. The process and its results are thus brought

very strikingly before our mind.


  • THE REVELATION. There is something to be seen, something which is

            hidden from the minds of ordinary men, something from which, therefore,

            the veil must be withdrawn, if the spiritual eye is to gaze upon it. How God

            makes Himself, His character, His purposes, known to those whom He

            selects for this special privilege, we do not know. But, unless Scripture is

            misleading and deceptive, such a revelation has taken place. Especially to

            the prophets, things otherwise unseen, unknown, have been revealed.


  • THE INSIGHT. Unless there is an eye, the light shines in vain; indeed,

            light is but an undulation of ether which it needs the susceptible optic nerve

            (just one of the amazing things which God has created! – CY – 2015)

            to appreciate. And in order that God may make His counsels known to

            men, there must be not only objective revelation, but subjective inspiration.

            The spiritual faculty needs to be quickened, that in God’s light we may see

            light. (Psalm 36:9)  The action of the Holy Spirit upon the mind of the prophet

            brought that mind into a receptive state, so that the Divine rays occasioned

            human illumination. The prophet saw the mind, the will, the intentions, of the



  • THE PROPHECY. Because the spiritual eye discerned the spiritual

            reality, the seer became the prophet. What his eyes had seen he was thus

            enabled to communicate for:

Ø      the information,

Ø      the warning,

Ø      the encouragement,

                        of his fellow men.



God and Bad Men (v. 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.” Of the history of

Obadiah we literally know nothing. His name, which signifies “Worshipper

of Jehovah,” and his short prophecy afford the only information concerning

him.  From vs. 11-14, which are thought to contain an allusion to the

exultation of the Edomites over the final capture and plunder of Jerusalem,

we might with some confidence infer that he flourished after the

destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans. In all probability he must have

lived near the time of Jeremiah; and indeed there is almost a verbal

agreement between his utterances in vs. 1-8 and those contained in

Jeremiah 49. If we take this view we might suppose that his prophecy was

delivered between the year B.C. 588, when Jerusalem was taken by the

Chaldeans, and the termination of the siege of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar. As

to his prophecy, it is the shortest in the Bible: one chapter comprehends all.

Its subject is the destruction of Edom on account of its cruelty to Judah,

Edom’s brother, and the restoration of the Jews. Its style is marked by

animation, regularity, and clearness. These words of the first verse suggest

two thoughts concerning God and bad men.



Here is a revelation concerning Edom, the enemy of God and His people.

Isaac had two sons by Rebekah — Esau and Jacob. Esau was called Edom,

red,” in memory, it is said, of the red pottage for which he sold his

birthright (Genesis 25:30). Observe:


Ø      The forms of the revelation.


o       As a vision. “The vision of Obadiah.” The prophet was a seer. The

Eternal revealed Himself to the eyes of his soul. He who would be a

true minister of God must see the thing before he speaks it. “That

which we have seen and handled,” says the apostle (I John 1:1). Man

has other eyes than those that are in his forehead. He has a faculty

for seeing the invisible and the eternal; this distinguishes him from

the brute.


o       As a report. “We have heard a rumor from the Lord.” The word

rumor” means “report.” “We have heard a report from Jehovah.” He

heard as well as saw. The soul has ears to catch the echoes of eternal

thought. God in times past spoke to the fathers by the prophets; and

now, as in olden times, speaks by symbols and sayings, by appealing

to the eye and the ear.  (Hebrews 1:1)


Ø      The character of this revelation — a message. “An ambassador is sent

among the heathen.” Did he mean by the ambassador, himself, or any

other prophet or prophets, or some celestial minister? It does not matter.

The message is the thing — a message from Jehovah to the nation. God

sends His messages to the nations in many ways and by many agents.


Ø      The subject of the revelation. “Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in

battle.” The object of the message was to stir up the Assyrians, and

afterwards the Chaldeans, against Edom. But our proposition is that God

makes a revelation concerning bad men; and the subject of that revelation

embraces at least two things.


o       That their sins will ruin them. This the Almighty has revealed over and

over again in the Bible, and in every chapter of human history and

experience. The burden of all is, “The wages of sin is death.”

(Romans 6:23)


o       That evangelical repentance will save them. Let the wicked forsake

his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return

unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon Him; and to our God,

for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7). These two subjects

are the great burden of God’s revelation to bad men.



messenger amongst the nations. What for? To stir up the Assyrians and

Chaldeans — both bad people — to wreak vengeance on corrupt Edom.

Why does He employ bad men for this awful work of retribution? He could

do is without any secondary agency at all, or, if He chose to employ any

instrumentality, could use the forces of nature and the monsters of the

forest alone to do the work; why employ bad men to punish bad men, fiend

to punish fiend? By doing so:


Ø      He reveals in the most powerful way to the victim the enormity of his

sin. The torture which his fellow man brings on him he is made to feel is

but a slight stroke of that fiend of depravity which has set his own soul

against his Maker.


Ø      He reveals His own absolute power over the workings of the human

heart. Thus He maketh “the wrath of men to praise Him,” etc. (Psalm

76:10). He makes even the devil himself to carry out His will. But though

God employs bad men to punish bad men by rapine, plunder, and bloody

wars, it is not by His instigation; they act by their own free will. He is not

the Author of evil. All good proceedeth from Him, and all evil is overruled

by Him for the order and blessedness of the universe. The devil is not less a

devil because he inflicts the penalties of justice on men.


2 “Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly

despised.”  Here is the effect of the summons. So in Jeremiah 49:15,

“For, lo, I will make thee small.”  Jehovah is the Speaker, and He regards the

future as past. What he determines is as good as accomplished. At this time the

Edomites were a powerful nation, and possessed an almost impregnable seat

at Petra. Small; in numbers, territory, honor.


Edom had prided herself in the strength of her position; but this shall not secure

her from destruction when the Lord wars against her.  (vs. 3-4)


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?”

Hath deceived; Septuagint, ἐπῆρε epaere - elated; Vulgate, extulit.

The pointing varies. In v. 7 Jerome translates the word by illudere. The

clefts; Septuagint, ὀπαῖςopais – clefts - Vulgate, scissuris. The word occurs

in the parallel passage, Jeremiah 49:16, and in Song of Solomon 2:14,

where it has the meaning of “refuge.” Of the rock. This may be Sela, or

Petra, as II Kings 14:7. The country inhabited by the Edomites lay on

the eastern side of the Arabah, and extended from the south end of the

Dead Sea to the Elanitic Gulf. It was a region of mountain and valley,

difficult, and in many parts inaccessible from the west. Rock-hewn

dwellings are found everywhere in those hills, the Edomites, when they

expelled the aboriginal Troglodytes (Deuteronomy 2:12, 22), having

adopted their habitations and excavated new ones on the same model

throughout the whole district. These were useful, not only as being secure

from hostile attack, but as cool retreats in the summer of that scorching

tract, and offering a warm shelter in winter when fuel was scarce. Petra, the

capital, lay completely hidden at the end of a rocky defile some two miles

long, and could easily be defended against an enemy by a handful of men.


                                    Description of Petra.


The territory occupied by the Edomites extended from the southern end of

the Dead Sea to the Elanitic Gulf, and comprised an area of about two

thousand square miles. Though it was a mountainous district, and well

deserved its biblical names of “the mount of Esau” and Mount Seir,” there

was no want of fertile soil in its valleys and terraces. The ancient capital

appears to have been Bozrah, a city that lay a few miles south of the Dead

Sea. But at the time of Obadiah’s prophecy this had been supplanted by the

celebrated Sela, or Petra, the peculiar position of which place, with its

difficult access, its rock-hewn dwellings, and natural defenses, had tended

to encourage in the Edomites a spirit of independence and security, which

taught them to defy attack and to spurn all attempts at subjection.


There has always been great difficulty in visiting the modern

representatives of the Edomites, though some few enterprising persons

have penetrated their fastnesses, and given to the world the results of their

investigations. A late traveler who has succeeded in inspecting Petra has

described his visit in the Century Magazine, November, 1885, from which

the following extracts are taken: “Petra is identified with the Hebrew Selah,

‘a Rock,’ the Amorite, Edomite, and Moabite stronghold (Judges 1:36;

II Kings 14:7; Isaiah 16:1). Strabo (16:663; 5:15, edit. Did.) tells us

of Petra as a city shut in by rocks in the midst of the desert, yet supplied

abundantly with water, and important as a place of transit for Oriental

productions. The city lay in a narrow valley, surrounded by precipitous

hills. On the eastern and western sides the cliffs rise almost perpendicularly

to the height of six or seven hundred feet. On the north and south the

natural barriers are less formidable, and may, in places, be passed by

camels. Many recesses, or small lateral valleys, open into the main valley.

The circuit of the entire depression, including these lateral valleys, is about

four miles .... The site of Petra lies halfway between the Gulf of Akabah

and the Dead Sea, about seventy miles, as the vulture flies, from each. It

has been said that there is but one entrance to Petra. Yet there is a ‘back

door,’ so to speak, through which some travelers have made their way into

the city, and by means of which they have also more suddenly made their

departure. The real approach is through a narrow gorge (Wady Mousa)

some two miles long, of which the gateway faces the east. This is reached

from Palestine by way of Moab, east of the Dead Sea, and from the south

by the route I took [viz. across the Red Sea, a few miles south of Suez;

down the desert to Mount Sinai; thence north and east to the head of the

Gulf of Akabah]. The back door may be gained from north or south by way

of the Wady Arabah — the vast desert waste which lies between the Gulf

of Akabah and the Dead Sea, into which it opens near the base of venerable

Mount Hor .... Breaking our way through the jungle on the further side of

the stream [the Sik], we found ourselves in the very heart of the necropolis

of Petra… It may be useful to remind the reader, before we enter Petra

proper, that all its principal structures, be they tombs, palaces, or temples,

are excavated from the rock, and not constructed of quarried stone. The

sides of the mountains are cut to smooth perpendicular faces, which are

occupied by unbroken ranges of temples and of homes for the living and

the dead. The interiors behind the ornate fronts are but caves squared by

the old stone cutter, and are lighted only by their doors. Continuing our

advance, we followed the stream a few rods, and descending as the pass

narrowed, the entrance of the frightful chasm, seen afar off at sunrise, was

reached at last. What an impregnable gateway! Spanning it is a fine

buttressed arch, resting upon rock-cut foundations. Beneath this a little

stream gurgles. We followed it through the only entrance — the ‘front

door’ of Petra. The top of the northern wall of the defile was once

inhabited. Excavations, bridges, terraced gardens, and various other

evidences remain upon it of the industry and artistic taste of a wonderfully

persevering people. When we had come fairly inside the gorge, we found it

at times so narrow that two of us could not walk abreast. Its perpendicular

sides vary in height from four hundred to seven hundred feet, and

frequently, without absolutely meeting, they overhang to such a degree that

the sky is shut out from the sight for a hundred yards at a stretch. On every

side, more than a yard above the stream bed, channels are cut in the rock as

conduits for water, and in some places terracotta pipes are found cemented

in these channels. Tiny niches abound also, cut in the sides of the gorge —

old pagan divinities, no doubt. The growth of oleanders becomes more

dense as the gorge descends. Green caper plants dangle from the crevices,

and here and there a graceful tamarisk is found in the shade. The tiny

brook, the Sik, follows the whole way. The quarried stone scattered along

the path indicates that the floor of the fissure was once paved. At every

turn we saw evidences of indefatigable effort, and of how lavishly labor

was expended by the people who lived in Petra in its days of power. For

nearly two miles we followed the semi-subterranean passage. The pathway

now descended; the water grew deeper, the opposing thicket more

impassable, the scene more grand....Emerging from the gorge into an open

area, we stood face to face with the strange edifice (the Khuzneh)....The

color is a delicate rose-pink, like that of the buildings further on in the

city, almost unbroken by waves of other hue...As the inner gate of the city

beyond the Khuzneh was entered, to the right and left wondrous

architectural fancies loomed up. On the left is a group of square-cut

edifices, seeming at first like gigantic steps, but out of which varied facades

appear upon a closer view. On the right is a trio of tombs and temples

hewn from the end of a range of cliffs, the last one looking like a great grim

warder at the city gate. Beneath are numberless excavations, each one of

which, from its appearance, might have been used first as a home for the

living before Being appropriated as a tomb....Now emerging into the

expanse of the little valley, the full glory of the Edomite capital burst upon

us. Nature built these stupendous walls, and man adorned them with

patient workmanship, each artist vying with his fellow in shaping these

rainbow cliffs into forms of beauty.”



        The narrow passage that leads to Petra - Wikipedia



             Petra home dwellings by Joshua Doubek - Wikipedia


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.”

The Hebrew gives “nest” as the subject of both clauses, thus: “Though thou

exaltest... and settest thy nest.” Job (Job 39:27-28) speaks of the eagle making its

nest in the highest rocks. The metaphor is found in Numbers 24:21;

Habakkuk 2:9. Will I bring thee down (Amos 9:3). The seizure of

Petra by the Nabathaeans is the judgment referred to in this part of the

prophecy; the complete ruin is mentioned later (vs. 18-21).



The Deceptiveness of Human Pride (vs. 3-4)


The prophecies of Obadiah were mainly addressed to the Edomites, the

descendants of Esau, a wild and warlike people who inhabited the

mountainous region to the south of the Dead Sea. Their hostility and

treachery towards their kinsmen, the descendants of Israel, were the

occasion of the threatenings with which this book abounds. Fancying

themselves secure and impregnable in their singular mountain fastnesses,

they deemed their neighbors altogether incapable of chastising their perfidy

and enmity. But man is only man, and not God; and this lesson Obadiah

brings before the inhabitants of Idumea in the glowing and poetical

language of the text.


·         SELF-EXALTATION. This was the state of mind in which the

Edomites defied the people of Jehovah. Their homes were literally in the

clefts of the rocks, where caves sheltered them at an elevation above those

passing through the defile below, which seemed to secure their exemption

from the assaults of their foes. They compared themselves with the eagle,

which chooses the loftiest peaks for his dwelling place. Nay, they seemed

to disdain the earth, and to dwell among the stars. All this is indicative of

human pride. Men too often flatter themselves that physical strength,

mental powers, social position, political alliances, raising them above the

common herd, raise them also above the common lot.


·         SELF-CONFIDENCE. “Who,” say the Edomites, “who shall bring us

down to the ground?” Men measure their strength with their fellow men,

and draw from the comparison most delusive conclusions. Because they are

superior to one, they fancy themselves superior to all; and because they

believe themselves above the reach of human enemies, they believe

themselves above the reach of God Himself. It is a sin to which strong

natures are especially exposed. The powerful and the prosperous are

tempted to place confidence both in their own wisdom and ability and in

their own good fortune. But “let him that thinketh he standeth take heed

lest he fall.”  (I Corinthians 10:12)


·         HUMILIATION. We are assured upon the highest authority that “a

haughty spirit cometh before a fall.”  (Proverbs 16:18)  In the plenitude

of their power and pride, the Edomites heard a voice from heaven saying,

“I will bring thee down.” A retributive providence is a reality. Even the

heathen believed in Nemesis, and regarded boastfulness as tempting

adversity. The instrument employed in humbling the proud may be

human, as in the case of the Edomites, but the power that chastises is

Divine. It is ever true under the government of God that He abases the

proud and gives grace unto the lowly.  (Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6)



To prove the completeness of the destruction that shall befall

Eden, the prophet supposes two cases of despoiling in which something

would be left behind. It will be far worse than any mere raid of thieves;

nothing will be spared. (vs. 5-6)


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?”

Thieves... robbers. The former are ordinary thieves who pilfer

secretly; the latter are robbers who act with violence, or members of a

marauding expedition. How art thou cut off! An interposed ejaculation of

the prophet, sympathizing with the Edomites for the utter desolation which

he sees in vision. Septuagint, Ποῦ ἄν ἀπεῥῤίφηςPou an aperriphaes –

 Where wouldst thou have been cast away? taking a different reading; Vulgate,

Quomodo conticuisses? “How wouldst thou have been silent?” i.e. for fear. Till

they had enough. Would they not have taken such plunder as they wanted, and

then decamped? The grape gatherers would leave some bunches

untouched, which escaped their notice. There is no reference to the

charitable law in Leviticus 19:10; Deuteronomy 24:21, which would

not affect, or be known unto, these grape plunderers.


6 “How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things

sought up!”  Obadiah contemplates Eden’s ruin, in retribution of her

plundering Jerusalem, and speaks of it as past. How are the things of

Esau searched out! literally, how are the things searched out, Esau! i.e.

the people and property that belong to Esau. The enemy leave no place

unexamined. So in Zephaniah 1:12 the Lord says, “I will search

Jerusalem with candles.” (For “Esau” as equivalent to “Eden,” see

Genesis 25:30.) His hidden things (Septuagint, τὰ κεκρυμμένα αὐτοῦ -

 ta kekrummena autou - hidden treasures. Jeremiah (49:10)

gives, “secret places.” Keil notes that Petra was a great emporium of the

trade between Arabia and Syria, and that in it great treasures were stored

(Diod. Sic., 19:95).



Pride (vs. 2-5)


“Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly

despised. The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee,” etc. These words

may be taken as suggesting and illustrating one of the chief sins of all

sinners, viz. pride, that which poets tell us “peoples hell and holds its

prisoners there.” The words suggest three facts in relation to pride.



MOST DISPOSED TO PRIDE. Edom, which is charged with the sin of

pride, is here described as “small among the heathen” and “greatly

despised.” Not only were they a small people, small comparatively in

numbers, wealth, and influence, but despised. They became contemptible in

the estimation of their contemporaries. Small things and small men are not

always despicable, for God made the small as well as the great. It is the

moral character that creates and deserves contempt. Now, small and

despicable as were these Edomites, they were nevertheless proud. It is

often, if not ever, so. The smaller the men the more disposed to pride. The

man small in body is often swollen out with ideas of the comeliness of his

person; the man small in intellect is the same. The men who rate

themselves as great thinkers, scholars, authors, preachers, are invariably

small-brained men. Men of great intellect and lofty genius are

characteristically humble. An old writer has observed that “where the river

is the deepest the water glides the smoothest. Empty casks sound most;

whereas the well fraught vessel silences its own sound. As the shadow of

the sun is largest when his beams are lowest, so we are always least when

we make ourselves the greatest.”





Ø      To self-deception. “The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee.” Pride is

a wonderful artist; it magnifies the small; it beautifies the ugly; it honors

the ignoble; it makes the truly little, ugly, contemptible man appear large,

handsome, dignified in his own eyes. It is said that Accius, the poet, who

was a dwarf, would have himself painted as tall and commanding in stature.

In truth, it makes the man who is a devil at heart appear to himself a saint.

Witness the Pharisee in the temple.  (Luke 18:9-14)


Ø      To presumption. “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?” The Edomites are here taunted with the confidence that they

placed in their lofty and precipitous mountain, and the insolence with which

they scouted any attempt to subdue them. A proud man always presumes

on strength, reputation, and resources which he has not. Whilst he stands

on quicksand he fancies himself on a rock. “Thou sayest thou art rich, and

increased with goods, and hast need of nothing; and knowest not that

thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked.”

(Revelation 3:17), Ah! self-deception and presumption are the twin

offspring of pride.




things are taught here concerning its punishment.


Ø      Its certainty. “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.” Here these sinners are assured, by a bold hyperbole, that whatever

attempts they made to avoid retribution, they would fail. If, like the eagle,

they towered high into the air, far up among the clouds, nestled among

the stars, and made the clouds their footstool, the fowler of retribution

would bring them down. All attempts on behalf of the impenitent sinner

to avoid punishment must fail when the day for justice to do its work

has come.  (As if he could run like the thief or hide like the murderer!

CY – 2015)


Ø      Its completeness. 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

grape gatherers came to thee, would they not leave some grapes?”

The spoliation which thou shalt suffer shall not be such as that which

thieves cause, bad as that is; for these, when they have seized enough,

or all they can get in a hurry, leave the rest; nor such as grape gatherers

cause in a vineyard, for they, when they have gathered most of the grapes,

leave gleanings behind; BUT IT SHALL BE UTTER  so as to leave thee

NOTHING!   The exclamation, “How art thou cut off!” bursting in amidst

the words of the image, marks strongly excited feeling. The contrast between

Edom, where no gleanings shall be left, and Israel, where at the worst a

gleaning is left, is striking (Isaiah 17:6; 24:13). Retribution strips the sinner

of everything; nothing is left but sheer existence, and that existence



  • CONCLUSION. Beware of pride, then. The primal cause of all sin, all

pain, and all woe to come, the great fountainhead of evil, is pride. It must

lead to ruin. “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a

fall.”  (Proverbs 16:18)


“He that is proud eats up himself. Pride is

His own glass, his own trumpet: his own chronicle,

And whatever praises itself but in

The deed, devours the deed in the praise.”




                         The Things of Esau Searched Out (v. 6)




Lifted up, dwelling amongst the stars, wise in his own eyes, he knows not

his perilous condition. There are thousands and thousands like this. They

say, in the language of Laodicea, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and

have need of nothing.” (Revelation 3:15-22)  They little see themselves as God sees

them. They are blind, and know not that they are miserable and poor; but God

searches them out. “I know thy works.” No one can elude the all-seeing gaze of the

Omniscient. “Adam, where art thou?”  (Genesis 3:9)  Thus the Judge of all men

comes making manifest the secrets of the heart. Hiding like Adam in the trees of

the garden, or dwelling like Edom in the rocks, is only self-delusion. Shall

not God search it out? There are many, like Saul, who are so self-complacent

that they say, “I have kept the commandment of the Lord.”  (I Samuel 15:13-14)

When the stern prophet asks,”What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep

in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” Some may remind

us of the young man who, on hearing the commandments, said he had kept

them all; but when Christ searched him through and through, he left

Christ’s presence, preferring his earthly possessions to heavenly riches. His

heart was as a great stone, which, when disturbed, revealed numberless

creeping things which at once shrank from the light and hastened away into

new darkness. (Mark 10:17-23)  How are the things of Esau searched out!

The disclosure must come. It is inevitable. “There is nothing, covered that

shall not be revealed, neither hid that shall not be known.” (Luke 12:2)

It may not be in this world, it may not be until the day — the great day —

of judgment, but IT MUST COME!  The things of Esau must be searched out,

the folly of self-confidence must be made manifest.



                        ESAU AS THE TYPE OF THE WORLDLY.


We know how the first of the race bartered his birthright for

a mess of pottage. And the race yet lives. There are yet multitudes carnally

minded, who reject joint kinship with Christ for:


  • the sake of some mess of pottage, or
  •  some cup of pleasure, or
  • some glittering toy, or
  • the incense of human honor.


How many are ready to exclaim, when we offer them the salvation of Christ,

that it would endanger their success in the world.  Demetrius, the silversmith,

alarmed his fellow craftsman by telling them that Christianity would jeopardize

their profits. “Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth.”  (Acts 19:25)

The world so fills the vision of such persons that they have:


·         no eyes for Christ,

·         no eyes for heaven,

·         no eyes for the coming glory,

·         no eyes for immortality!


They have eyes and see not; ears  have they, and hear not.  (Matthew 13:13-16)

Like the raven in the Flood, they prefer the dead carcases to the security of the ark.

Like Ishmael, they are ready to mock at those who differ from them. They ridicule

the walk of faith. The cross of Christ is to them foolishness. Shall not God visit

for these things? (Jeremiah 5:29)  To be carnally minded is DEATH!  (Romans 8:6)   

They are like the fabled vessel drawing nigh to the loadstone rock. They get nearer

and nearer, when, lo! every bolt and nail is drawn out to the magnet, and the ship

is an utter wreck. “How are the things of Esau searched out!” The worldly policy

of multitudes may seem for a while to prosper, but the end of these things is death.

Some years ago a woman was executed for murder. The fatal deed had been

committed to obtain a five-pound note. When the coveted note was gained

it was found to be only a pretence. It was called a five-pound “Bank of

Elegance” note. Yet for this poor sham the miserable young woman risked

her life and took the life of another. What an illustration of Esau’s barter —

a birthright for a mess of pottage! An inheritance incorruptible IS

FORFEITED  for some gilded toy. “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans

6:23)  “How are the things of Esau searched out!”





In v. 10 the prophet says, “For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall

cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off forever.” This unsympathizing, hard-hearted,

cruel spirit is DIRECTLY OPPOSITE  to that of Christ. The laws of the kingdom

call to gentleness, meekness, brotherly kindness, charity. Christ hath left us an

example, that we should follow His steps.  (I Peter 2:21)  He is the gentle Jesus.

He is the tender Shepherd. He is the Brother born for adversity. He gave Himself

for us. His mercy is everlasting. He is the sympathizing High Priest. It is clear, then,

that the sin of Esau was very great. Jacob from his dying couch denounced

the cruelty of Simeon and Levi, although by grace the latter was called to

high privileges in Israel. “Instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. O

my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour,

be not thou united!” And in a little while he adds, “Cursed be their anger,

for it was great, and their wrath, for it was cruel.” (Genesis 34; 50:5-7)

But here we have the inveterate cruelty of centuries. The hatred of Esau

against Israel had survived many generations An unyielding, deadly, cruel

antagonism to the Jews had been a leading characteristic of Edom. Esau’s cruelty was

of a most unnatural type. And it had grown worse and worse. The prophet tells

us he first looked on Jacob’s calamity, then laughed, then insulted, then

plundered, and then imprisoned and murdered. We have, then, in Esau. a

type of the unsympathizing and cruel. And is not the red hand of Esau, the

cruel, blood dyed hand of Esau, at work in our own day? What are the

fearful atrocities, the horrible cruelties, the maimings, the murders, the

hellish plots, the demon-like machinations? What mean the heart-rending

tears and sorrows of widows and orphans? What mean the distress and

poverty of multitudes of ladies?    (I will say matrons and daughters – victims

and accomplices of the abortion industry! – CY – 2015)   What

mean the blight and ruin so common in the land? O my soul, come not thou

into the secret! (Genesis 49:6)  Esau’s cruelty and blood guiltiness were never so

bad as the crimes, UNPUNISHED and UNDETECTED  of our own day.

And shall not God search them out? “Verily there is a God that judgeth the

earth.”  (Psalm 58:11)  Let us for ourselves pray to be kept from the beginnings

of all hatred, malice, and uncharitableness. GOD IS LOVE   May we have His

mind! May we show ourselves the children of Him who maketh His sun to shine

on the just and on the unjust! “For if ye love them which love you, what reward

 have ye? do not even the publicans the same?… Be ye therefore perfect, even as

your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”  (Matthew 5:46-48)


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; that they eat thy bread have laid a

wound under thee: there is none understanding in him.”

In this dire calamity Edom shall be deserted by her friends and

allies — a punishment for her behavior to her sister Judah. The men of

thy confederacy. The Septuagint and the Vulgate annex these words to the

following clause. The allies intended may be Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and

Zidon, who joined together to resist Nebuchadnezzar, and were smitten by

him (Jeremiah 27:3); or, as Perowne thinks, the Chaldeans themselves,

who, though the Edomites had aided in the attack on Jerusalem, afterwards

turned against them. Have brought thee even to the border; Septuagint,

Ἕως τῶν ὁρίων ἐξαπέστειλάν σεHeos ton horion hexapesteilan se –

They sent thee forth unto thy borders; Vulgate, Usque ad terminum emiserunt ii.

 Keil and others explain this to mean that the Edomites send ambassadors to

their allies, asking help, but these messengers are conducted back to the frontier

with their request not granted, because the allies are unwilling to entangle

themselves in the fate of Edom. It is easier to understand the passage in this

way — Thy very allies have assisted the enemy in expelling thee from thy

borders, and refusing to receive fugitives who came to them. The men that

were at peace with thee. Either the same as “the men of thy confederacy,”

or the neighboring Arabian tribes who resorted to Petra for commercial

reasons (compare Judges 4:17). The phrase here, literally, the men of thy

peace, is found in Psalm 41:9 and Jeremiah 38:22. Have deceived thee, by

not bringing the expected help; and have prevailed against thee, by actual

violence. They that eat thy bread. The Hebrew is simply, “thy bread,” i.e.

the men of thy bread. Vulgate, qui comedunt tecum; the Septuagint omits the

words. The expression (compare Psalm 41:9) implies the closest

friendship, especially in Eastern lands, where such a tie is of general

obligation. Have laid a wound under thee; rather, lay a snare under thee;

Septuagint, ἔθηκαν ἔνερα ὑποκάτω σουethaekan enera hupokato sou –

 they set snares under thee; Vulgate, ponent insidias subter te (compare

Psalm 69:22). Another interpretation is this: “As thy bread (which they as friends

were bound to offer) they lay a sling under thee,” i.e. prepare an ambush for thee,

like Jael did for Sisera. Pusey notes the climax in this verse — not confederates

only, but friends; not friends only, but familiar friends, indebted to them.

Those banded with them should expel them from their country; those at

peace should prevail against them in war; those who ate their bread should

requite them with treachery. There is none understanding in him; i.e. in

Edom. The shock of this defection of allies and the sudden destruction that

has overwhelmed them have deprived the Edomites of their wonted

sagacity and prudence. They know not whither to turn or what to do. The

following verse expands this thought.



The Treacherous Betrayed (v. 7)


The Edomites had turned against their own kinsmen, the children of Israel,

had leagued with Israel’s enemies, and aided in bringing about Israel’s

calamities. They had chosen for their allies heathen nations in their own

vicinity, relying upon their fidelity and support. The prophet is inspired to

assure them that the confederacies they have formed shall fail them, that

the friends in whom they have trusted shall prove false, and that Edom shall

suffer the reward of perfidy in desertion and subjection.



INCUR THE DISPLEASURE OF GOD. The sons of Israel were the

chosen and beloved people, and, notwithstanding their frequent

unfaithfulness, they were the objects of Divine regard and interest and love.

Those who attacked the Israelites attacked Him who was in reality their

King. Israel was a theocracy, and the anger of the King was enkindled

against those who, like these Edomites, treated with injustice the beloved






attacked, wounded, disgraced, and despised by the very people whose

friendship they had courted in preference to that of God’s own chosen

nation. Their confidence was in vain; the prop upon which they leaned

proved a spear to pierce them. Their fancied wisdom brought them to

utter perplexity and ruin.


·         APPLICATION. No alliance with wicked men can serve any holy

purpose. It may promise well, but the reality will not correspond with the

promise. The friendship of sinners is illusive, seductive, and vain. “The

companion of fools shall be destroyed.”  (Proverbs 13:20)



Their vaunted wisdom and their boasted courage shall fail, for God shall take

them away  (vs. 8-9)


8 “Shall I not in that day, saith the LORD, even destroy the wise men

out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau?”

In that day; when Edom is abandoned by its friends. Destroy

the wise men out of Edom. God shall take their wisdom from them, so

that they shall be no more able to offer prudent counsel or suggest plans of

safety (Isaiah 19:11-16; 29:14; 47:12-13). The Edomites were

celebrated for wisdom or practical philosophy (compare I Kings 4:30;

Jeremiah 49:7). Mount of Esau (vs. 9, 19, 21). Mount Seir — a designation

of Edom from the nature of the country.


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.”

O Teman; Septuagint, οἱ ἐκ Θαιμάνhoi ek Thaiman - those from Thaeman;

Vulgate, a meridic, taking the word as an appellative; so the Chaldee. The

southern district of Idumea was so called (see note on Amos 1:12). One

of Job’s friends, and the cleverest of them, was a Temanite (Job 2:11).

To the end that. This judicial blindness is inflicted in order that all may

perish. (I am afraid that this is what is happening to America:  a sort of

judicial blindness along the lines of Romans 1:17-32 – CY – 2015).

By slaughter. Murder at the hands of the enemy. The Septuagint,

Vulgate, and Syriac connect these words with the following verse. But the

Masoretic punctuation, as in the Anglican Version, is doubtless correct.



Wisdom and Power of No Avail Against God (vs. 8-9)


Of all their possessions men are most prone to rely upon and to boast of

their physical prowess and their intellectual sagacity. It is thought that great

power, directed by consummate prudence and wisdom, is of all things

earthly the most trustworthy, the most unfailing. Yet warnings are in

Scripture often addressed to men to dissuade them from an undue

confidence even in gifts and qualities so rare and admirable as these. The

sons of Esau are in this passage admonished that, if they trust to their own

wisdom and their own strength for safety, protection, and deliverance, their

trust shall be disappointed.



THEMSELVES VERY LIMITED. What is the might of man

when compared with the great forces of nature — the earthquake,

the tempestuous sea, etc.? And before how many speculative

difficulties and practical problems does the wisdom of man confess

itself utterly baffled! It is strange that whilst, looking at the general law,

men are always ready to confess their physical and intellectual impotency,

when they come to particular cases calling for strength and wisdom they

are so ready to confide in that which they have every reason to distrust.



Good in themselves, and admirable instances of the creative skill of God

Himself, these qualities are especially liable to abuse. Such is the case when

power is employed in the cause of injustice and oppression, when wisdom

is misused to defeat the designs of truth and charity. Often in the history of

other nations than Edom has this misuse been exhibited. We are too prone

to admire and extol strength and sagacity superior to our own; but it is

better to ask — How have these gifts been used? By what principles have

they been guided?




GOD. Man’s power may be great; God’s is irresistible. Man’s wisdom may

be profound, but God’s is omniscient. Hence when that which is finite

opposes itself to that which is infinite, the result can only be disastrous for

man. Edom found this to be so; and the experience of Edom has been the

experience of multitudes in every age.


·         APPLICATION. “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let

the mighty man glory in his might;… but let him that glorieth glory in this,

that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise

loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth.”  (Jeremiah




God in Retribution (vs. 6-9)


“How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things

sought up! All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the

border,” etc. Man is essentially a dependent being. The ineradicable and

ever-operative sense of his dependence urges him to lean his being on some

object for rest and safety. His sin is that he puts his confidence on objects

unworthy and unsafe. “Some trust in chariots, some in horses;  but we

will remember the name of the Lord our God.”  (Psalm 20:7)  The

Edomites, it is suggested here, trusted to the insecure. Here we have God

in retriubution destroying the grounds of the sinners confidence.



WERE WORTHLESS. “How are the things of Esau searched out! how are

his hidden things sought up!” The reference is to the hiding places to which

they resorted in cases of danger. The country of the Edomites was preeminently

favorable for such concealment and shelter. The cities of Edom

consisted of houses mostly cut in the rocks. “The great feature of the

mountains of Edom is the mass of red bald-headed sandstone rocks,

intersected, not by valleys, but by deep seams. In the heart of these rocks,

itself invisible, lies Petra. Petra is unique. The whole Edomite

country, from Eleutheropolis to Petra and Selah, hath small habitations

(habitatiunculae) in caves. And on account of the oppressive heat of the

sun, as being a southern province, hath underground cottages. Hence the

aborigines whom Edom expelled were called Horites, i.e. dwellers in

caves” Nations may trust to their material defenses, their armies, navies,

fortifications; but they are as stubble to the raging fire when justice begins

its work. Individuals may trust to their wealth, to material science and

medical skill, to preserve their bodily lives; but when justice sends forth its

emissary, death, what are these defenses? Nothing, less than nothing,




THESE WERE WORTHLESS. “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.” Those

confederates were probably Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Zidon, with whom

the Edomites joined in resisting Nebuchadnezzar; but these failed them,

probably turned against them; and even their friends who were at peace

with them and ate their bread deceived them in their hour of trial. To no

quarter could the Idumeans look for aid. Their allies, their neighbors, their

very dependants, so far from assisting them, would act treacherously

towards them, and employ every means, both of an open and covert nature,

to effect their ruin.  How often it happens, that when men get into adverse

circumstances, their old allies, professed friends, those who have often

partaken of their hospitality, not only fail them, but turn against them!

“Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm

and whose heart departeth from the Lord.”  (Jeremiah 17:5). He that

trusteth even to his firmest friends leaneth on a broken reed.



THIS WAS WORTHLESS “Shall I not in that day, saith the Lord, even

destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of

Esau?” The Idumeans confided not only in the natural strength of their

country, but in the superiority of their intellectual talent. That they excelled

in the arts and sciences is abundantly proved by the numerous traces of

them in the Book of Job, which was undoubtedly written in their country.

They were indeed proverbial for their philosophy, for the cultivation of

which their intercourse with Babylon and Egypt was exceedingly

favorable, as were likewise their means of acquiring information from the

numerous caravans whose route lay through their country, thus forming a

chain of communication between Europe and India. Yet

what is the wisdom of man to trust in? “He taketh the wise in their own

craftiness.” (Job 5:13; I Corinthians 3:19) The wisdom of the wise is but

foolishness; it is a miserable thing to trust in. Trust not in human wisdom;

not in the wisdom of statesmen, scientists, ecclesiastics, theologians.



THIS WAS WORTHLESS. “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.” Delitzsch renders this, “And thy heroes despair, O Teman.”

Teman was the proper name of the southern portion of Idumea, called so

after Tema, a grandson of Esau. Men trust in their heroes. At the banquets

of public societies, companies, corporations, how does this confidence

come out in the inflated cant of the speakers on the occasion, in relation to

the army or the navy! A false confidence this also! God, by a breath of

pestilence, can wither all the armies of Europe in an instant.


  • CONCLUSION. There is nothing in which the sinner trusts, nothing in

matter or mind, in force or skill, that can stand for one instant before the

retributive stroke of justice. Though some trust in chariots and some in

horses, let us trust in the Name of the Lord. Men who trust in anything

short of God are like the man who in a thunderstorm takes shelter under a

tree, whose tall branches attract and receive the shock of the lightning

which scorches him to ashes.



                        The Cause of Edoms Destruction (vs. 10-14)


This punishment falls upon her as the result of the malice and unfriendliness which

she has displayed towards Israel in the time of calamity, in that she rejoiced at her

sister’s disaster and took part with her enemies.


10 “For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee,

and thou shalt be cut off for ever.”  For thy violence against thy brother Jacob.

The special action to which Obadiah alludes, and which he particularizes in the

following verses, occurred at the time of the invasion of Judaea by

Philistines and Arabians during the reign of Jehoram, when the Edomites

sided with the enemy, and acted as the prophet intimates (II Chronicles

21:16-17. The iniquity of such conduct is aggravated by the fact that the victim

was the “brother Jacob,” who was commanded not to hate the Edomites

(Deuteronomy 23:7). This enjoined friendship was not reciprocated by the

descendants of Esau.  Whether from envy at the superior privileges of Israel, or

from other causes, the Edomites, from the time of Moses, had always been

actively hostile to the Israelites. They had been subdued by David, but had lately

rebeled and scoured their independence, and were always looking for an

opportunity of revenging themselves on their conquerors (compare Amos

1:11; Ezekiel 25:12-14; 35:5). Shame shall cover thee. Shame for the

destruction that hath overtaken thee (Micah 7:10). Thou shalt be cut

off forever (compare Malachi 1:4). Terrible retribution fell on Idumea in the

time of the Maccabees (see I Maccabees 5:3; II Maccabees 10:15, etc.;

Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 12:8. 1), Before that time they had been dispossessed of

Petra by the Nabathaeans.


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.”  The injuries complained of were committed lately, and the

prophet could speak of them as well known (see note on v. 10). In the

day that thou stoodest; literally, in the day of thy standing, without note

of time, but implying a past event here. On the other side. The words may

denote either malicious unconcern, as Psalm 38:11 (12), or hostile

opposition, as II Samuel 18:13. Besides the direct application to recent

events, the clause intimates the usual attitude of the Edomites toward

Israel. In the day that the strangers — Philistines and Arabians (II Chronicles

21:16) — carried away captive his forces; rather, carried away his substance,

 as v. 13; Genesis 34:29; Deuteronomy 8:17; Isaiah 8:4. Foreigners. The same

as “strangers.” Both words are usually applied to heathen enemies. Cast lots

upon Jerusalem. Divided the captives and spoil of Jerusalem by lot (II Chronicles

21:17; compare Joel 3:3; Nahum 3:10). Nothing is said of the total destruction of

Jerusalem or the wholesale deportation of the inhabitants to Babylon, So

that Obadiah cannot be referring to the Chaldean conquest. Thou wast as

one of them; literally, thou, too, as one of them. In this expression the past

is set before the mind as present.  “Even thou wast as one of them.”  We see

plainly that the Scriptures warn us of the frailty of our nature and the deceitfulness

of our hearts. And, if we reflect at all, we must see that repeatedly Christian

professors lack consistency. Christian principle and Christian practice should never

be at variance.   We find in some Christians so much worldly conformity, that to

one after another Obadiah might  come, and exclaim, “Even thou wast as one of



The social cruelty here is not the cruelty merely of one man against another, but

of one who is in close natural relationship to the other — children of the same

parents. Strange as it may be, it is nevertheless a fact that a brother’s enmity is

often the most savage and unrelenting. How can this fact be accounted for?

From the greater amount of his natural love. True, the greater amount of love

a man has in him, the greater capacity he has for wrath. Wrath is but love in

flames. The measure of a creature’s love determines his power of anger. The

little shallow lake cannot yield that amount of boiling steam which the ocean

can produce. No love, no hatred; small love, small hatred; large love, large

hatred. A brother is supposed naturally to have more love in him towards

his brother than any other. Hence, when this love is kindled into wrath, it is

often terribly furious. But the truth contained in the text is this, that a

brother’s cruelty is specially offensive to Jehovah. It is for “thy violence

against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off

forever.” But why should it be specially offensive?  Because the obligation

to love is stronger.  It is the duty of all men to love one another, but more especially

the duty of a brother to love his brother. Children of the same parents are specially

bound by nature to be one in sympathy and in heart.  Also, because the chief

human institution is outraged!  What is the chief human institution? That of a family.

Schools, governments, Churches, are not to be compared to the family institution.

The government of the family is the model government; the school of the

family is the model school; the Church of the family is the model Church. 

But when the members of this family become cruel to each other, this human

institution is outraged.  When brother inflicts injury on brother, parental

hearts bleed, and sisters are struck with an agony of grief.

We wonder not, then, that cruelty towards brothers is more offensive to God

than any other cruelty. Solomon has said that a “brother offended is harder

to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle”

(Proverbs 18:19). The closer the relationship, in case of dispute, the wider the

breach and the more difficult the reconciliation. A really offended brother is

often harder to win back to friendship than the taking of a strong city or the

breaking of the bars of a castle. Take the case of Cain and Abel, Joseph and his

brethren, Absalom and Amnon. In all these cases nothing less than death was

plotted and sought. Why is this? Why is a brother’s anger so implacable?

There is great reluctance on the offender’s side to acknowledge the fault and

seek reconciliation. Strange as it may seem, it is yet true — a man would

sooner offer an apology to any one than to his relations, especially to brothers.


Let us learn, therefore, these three lessons.


1.  First, to live watchfully.   Snares and dangers will beset us as long as we are in the

world. We all need the restraining grace of Christ. “Hold up my goings in thy paths,,

 that my footsteps slip not.”  (Psalm 17:5)


2. Secondly, to be careful about companionship. Edom’s unfraternal

antagonism was fed by the company he kept, till he was even “as one of

them.” Those who mingle with the heathen will not be slow to “learn

their works.” “Ephraim…..hath mixed himself among the people”

(Hosea 7:8)  “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the

ungodly… but his delight is in the Law of the Lord.”  (Psalm 1:1-2)


3. Lastly, to walk holily before God. Peter’s exhortation should be kept

in mind, “Giving all diligence, add to your faith [faith is the root — add to

the root] heroic, manly courage; and to courage knowledge [selfknowledge,

Bible knowledge, the knowledge of Christ; for knowledge is

power for working and for waiting, for doing and for suffering]; and to

knowledge temperance [temperance, or self-control, is an urgently needed

grace]; and to temperance patience [we are all called to endure; we must

not expect that we can be Christians without any trouble; Christ’s soldiers

must learn to endure hardness]; and to patience godliness [piety, devotion];

and to godliness brotherly kindness [Edom knew nothing of brotherly

kindness; this brotherly kindness is love to the brethren — love to the

godly].” And one more grace is enjoined, “Add to brotherly kindness

charity [love to everybody]  (II Peter 1:5-7)  Thus, in walking holily before

God, we shall, by the power of His Spirit, keep from the sin of Edom,

“Even thou wast as one of them “ — one of the Babylonians; and all will

take knowledge of us that we are the God-Man’s disciples (Acts 4:13).

We are Christ’s. His we are, and Him we serve. He was as

one of us (sin only excepted), that we might be one with Him forever.



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.”

The prophet complains of the malignant neutrality of the

Edomites. Thou shouldest not have looked. In this and the two following

verses, al with the future is wrongly translated. It should be rendered

throughout, “do not look,” “do not rejoice,” etc. Obadiah, in view of the

past behavior of Edom, and looking forward to another and more fatal

conquest of Jerusalem, warns the Edomites against repeating this malicious

conduct. Septuagint, μὴ ἐπίδης – mae epidaes - Gaze not with pleasure, feast

not thine eyes (Micah 7:10). The day of thy brother; i.e. when some great

event befell him — explained further in the next clause. Compare “the day

of Jerusalem (Psalm 137:7). In the day that he became a stranger;

Septuagint, ἐν ἡμέρα ἀλλοτρίων – en haemera allotrion -  in the day of strangers;

Vulgate, in die peregrinationis ejus. The Anglican and Vulgate Versions signify,

“in the day that he was carried captive into strange lands;” but most probably

the expression should be rendered, “in the day of his calamity.” Rejoiced

over (compare Job 31:29; Proverbs 17:5; Micah 7:8). Spoken proudly; literally,

make thy mouth great; Septuagint, μὴ μεγαλοῥῤημονῇ - mae megalorraemonae –

do not boast; Vulgate, non magnificabis os tuum.  Utter a flood of mocking words,

probably accompanied with derisive grimaces. There is a climax in this verse:

  • first the complacent look,
  • then the malicious pleasure,
  • then words of insult and derision.


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;”  In this verse it is the making common

cause with the enemy in the plundering of Jerusalem that is complained of.

Thou shouldest not have entered. Do not enter; so below, “do not look,” “lay not

hands” (see note on v. 12). The gate of my people; i.e. Jerusalem, the capital, as

Micah 1:9. In the day of their calamity, repeated thrice with sorrowful

emphasis, as making the Edomites’ conduct more reproachful. Yea, thou

shouldest not have looked. Hebrew, “look not thou also” — thou, as well

as the alien enemies. What is natural in them is a crime in thee (compare

Psalm 22:17). Their affliction; Septuagint, τὴν συναγωγὴν αὐτῶνtaen

sunagogaen auton - their gathering — a different reading from the Masoretic.

Substance, as in v. 11. This was a further aggravation; they helped to plunder

Jerusalem. Septuagint, μὴ μεγαλοῥῤημονῇ - mae megalorraemonae - Do not

 set upon their host; Vulgate, Et non emitteris adverus exercitum ejus. This implies

a warning against being instigated by the enemy to attack the Jewish forces. But

the rendering in the text is doubtless correct.


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.”

The climax of injury is the cutting off of fugitives, and

delivering them into captivity. Neither shouldst thou have stood in the

crossway; and stand not thou is the crossway. The Edomites, as

neighbors, would know all the passes into the wilderness by which the

Judaeans would seek to escape. Neither shouldst thou have delivered

up; and deliver not up; Septuagint,νηδὲ συγκλείσῃς – naede sugkleisaes –

 shut not up; Vulgate, et non concludes. So Pusey, “shut not up,” i.e. with the

enemy, driving them back upon their pursuers (compare Psalm 31:8). The

Hebrew word implies both meanings — “to deliver over to confinement;”

and the meaning here is — do not seize on the people to give them over

into captivity (compare Amos 1:6, 9). Those of his that did remain. Those

whom the invaders had spared.


The prophet deeply feels the injury and cruelty which Esau has inflicted upon

Israel, and the language of this passage gives evidence of a heart deeply

aggrieved and wronged and distressed. We have, indeed, in these verses an

example of the length to which the cruelty of man can go.

There was a penalty to this cruelty and this was plainly published by

Obadiah. “Thou,” said he to Edom“thou shalt be cut off forever.” The

laws of God cannot be violated with impunity. The relations which God has

fashioned cannot be outraged without involving the guilty in the awful

consequences of their sin. “The way of transgressors is hard.”  Proverbs



The warning given in the first section (vs, 1-9) is supplemented by the announcement

that in the day of the Lord, Edom and all the enemies of Israel shall be remembered,

and shall suffer just retribution, meeting with the fate which they had inflicted on

others. (vs. 15-16)


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.”  The day of the Lord. This is not primarily the final day of

judgment, but the time when “Jehovah reveals His majesty and omnipotence

in a glorious manner, to overthrow all ungodly powers, and to complete His

kingdom”. It is announced by Joel 1:15; 2:1, 31; Zephaniah 1:14;

but the notion of a judgment to fall on Gentile nations, and to issue in

the establishment of the kingdom of God, was familiar long before. Balaam

had seen it in dim vision (Numbers 24:17-24); Hannah had anticipated

the destruction that would accompany it (I Samuel 2:9-10); so had

David (II Samuel 23:5-7) in his last words; it is clearly predicted in the

Psalms (see Psalm 2 and 110.)   Is near. Because every such

judgment upon individual nations is typical of the great day and preparative

of it. As thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee (compare Judges 1:7;

Psalm 137:8; Jeremiah 50:15). This law of retribution was the ideal

of heathen justice, according to the Rhadamanthian rule, “If a man should

suffer what he hath done, then there would be strict justice” (Aristotle,

‘Eth. Nic.’ 5:5. 3). Thy reward (Joel 3:7 [4:7, Hebrew]; better, that

which thou hast performed — thy work or dealing, Upon thine own head.

Like a stone cast towards heaven (compare Psalm 7:16; Esther 9:25).



                        Recompense is Sure (v. 15)


“As thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee.” Herein we have an

immensely important principle laid down. Sowing and reaping always

correspond. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”  (Galatians

6:7)  All actions are seeds, many of which bear fruit in this world, and many

in the next. “As thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee.” Edom had been

merciless and cruel, and the prophet says, “Thy reward shall return upon

thine own head.” In like manner we find mystic Babylon denounced in

Revelation 18:6 (I give the new version as more exact and expressive):

“Render unto her even as she rendered, and double unto her the double

according to her works: in the cup which she mingled, mingle unto her

double.” Here you see the principle in force rendering to Babylon as she

rendered; doubling to her as she doubled; mingling for her as she mingled.

We cannot overestimate the immense importance of this principle. In this

life nations and individuals are constantly exemplifying the solemn truth

which it involves. We should therefore all carefully remember that we are

seed sowing, and sooner or later must come the harvest. (God told Edom,

“Thy reward shall be upon thine own head. For as ye have drunk upon my

holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually.” So Edom drank

the cup at the hands of Babylon; Babylon drank it at the hands of the

Medes; the Medes and Persians drank it at the hands of the Macedonians;

the Macedonians drank it at the hands of the Romans; the Romans, in their

turn, drank it at the hands of the barbarians. Thus as they had

done, it was done to them. Their reward returned upon their own head. In

Ezekiel 35:15 we have a similar denunciation of Edom: “As thou didst

rejoice at the inheritance of the house of Israel, because it was desolate, so

will I do unto thee: and thou shaft be desolate, O Mount Seir, and all

Idumea, even all of it:  and they shall know that I am the Lord!” It is, you

will notice, exactly the same kind of denunciation. In >Proverbs 26:27 God says,

Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return

upon him.” And in Psalm 9:15 we are told, “The heathen are sunk down in

the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken.”

In Numbers we find Moab plotting to curse Israel, and the curse came upon

himself. In Judges we read of Adoni-bezek taken in battle, and maimed in his

hands and feet. Adoni-bezek acknowledged that he had himself maimed three

score and ten petty princes. His words are not dissimilar to our text, “As I

have done, so God hath requited me.” (Judges 1:7)  He confessed that the law of

Nemesis had reached him. The end of Haman will occur to us. Haman dug

a pit, and fell therein himself. He set a stone rolling, and it returned upon

him. He perished upon the gallows which he prepared for Mordecai.  (Esther

7:10)  In Psalm 18:26 David says, “With the froward thou wilt show thyself

froward.”  He clearly means that Jehovah will be sternly opposed to the sinner’s

frowardness. A similar passage is in Leviticus 26:27-28, “If ye walk contrary

unto me, then will I walk contrary unto you.” The stubborn will gain

nothing by their obstinacy. God will render to nations and individuals

according to their ways. They shall be filled with the fruit of their own

doings. The enemies of Daniel, were devoured by the lions which they

intended for his destruction. The accusers of the three Hebrews were

consumed by the fiery furnace which they kindled for them, The plotters of

mischief were taken in their own wickedness and filled with their own

ways. “As thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee.” In the case of

Jezebel we have a terrible example of this kind. In the place where Jezebel

caused the dogs to lick the blood of Naboth, the dogs licked her blood.

(I Kings 21:23; II Kings 9:36)  Well said Eliphaz, I have seen that they

who plough iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.  (Job 4:8)

The Jews, who were made to serve “strange” masters, were told that it was

for serving “strange” gods. And our Lord Himself has said, “With the same

measure that ye mete it shall be measured to you again.”  (Matthew 7:2)

Society has been likened to the echoing hills. It gives the

speaker his words back again, doleful groan for groan, and joyous song for

song. Thus “with the same measure that ye mete it shall be measured to

you again.” Jacob, who deceived his father, was in turn, and similarly,

deceived by his sons. The Egyptians killed the Hebrew children; the God of

the Hebrews slew the firstborn of Egypt. “As thou hast done, it shall be

done unto thee.” The words, we know, were addressed to Esau, and we

have had abundant proof of the truth of the principle which they involve.

But let us briefly notice the converse. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that

shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)  If the ungodly cannot sow hemlock,

nightshade, and darnel, without reaping the same, so God’s servants cannot

sow seeds of kindness, seeds of truth, seeds of light, seeds of heavenly

blessing, without reaping in due season. The great harvest of well doing, like

that of evil doing, is indeed hereafter, but it has its tokens and first-fruits even

now. Let us notice, for example, our adorable Redeemer’s beatitude, “Blessed are

the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)  We know that the

merciful are those who upon gospel principles are sympathetic, helpful, loving,

and kind. We know also that hereafter Christ will say to those on His right hand,

“Come, ye blessed,… inherit the kingdom… I was an hungered, and ye

gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye

took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was

in prison, and ye came unto me.... Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye

did it unto one of these my brethren, even these least, ye did it unto me.”

(Matthew 25:34-40)  Hereafter, it is clear, the merciful will obtain mercy.

But at present the like principle is at work. “As thou hast done, it shall be

done unto thee” The kind and merciful now enjoy much blessedness; the

unmerciful are now unblessed. A man whose sympathies are all dried up lives

in a region of wintry blight. He walks in no glorious sunshine and in no joyous

liberty. He knows nothing of the bliss that comes from open-hearted sympathy.

There is darkness within. Darkness covers the face of the deep, and the Spirit of

God does not move on the lace of the waters. But the merciful man, the

man who is kind and sympathizing, the man who is forgiving and for

bearing, the man who has a kind excuse for others, the man who looks on

the charitable side of a case, the man who thinketh no evil, — that man will

reap here as well as here after. In his straits and afflictions he will find, as a

general rule, the stream of kindness FLOW BACK AGAIN!   The world will

learn mercy by his mercy, and show some feeling for one whose wont was to

sympathize with adversity. “The merciful man doeth good to his own soul”

(Proverbs 11:17). The widow of Sarepta (Luke 4:26) and the woman of Shunem

(II Kings 4:8-37), for kindness to the Lord’s prophets, received a prophet’s reward.

(Matthew 10:41)  The alms of Cornelius brought good to his own soul. (Acts

10:4)  God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love.  (Hebrews

6:10)  “As thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee.” Now this is one of the

original principles of the creation of God. God said, “Let the earth bring forth

grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit, after his kind.

(Genesis 1:11)  The vine yielded grapes; the fig tree, figs; the olive tree, olives.

The principle was universal. So it is in the moral world. “What a man soweth,

that shall he also reap.” There is no altering the law naturally, morally, or spiritually.

If a mother spoils a child, we know what the harvest will be. If a man takes to

intemperate habits, we know what the harvest will be. And we all expect an idle,

indolent man to come to disgrace and shame. Let no one be deceived. “God is not

mocked… whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Often and

often souls have been deceived. Eve was deceived, Jacob was deceived,

Ahab was deceived, David was deceived; (little wonder because Satan is

a deceiver – CY – 2015)  but as they sowed, they reaped (and SO DO WE!

CY – 2015).  GOD WAS NOT MOCKED!  . And so with us. Our words, our

actions, our habits, are seeds — seeds that will spring up. OH, WHAT WILL

THE HARVEST BE?  In this life there is, as I have shown, no little reaping

ever going on. Nations and individuals are constantly learning the meaning of

God’s words to Edom, “As thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee.” But THE


harvest is at hand. My text, which I have said, has a present fulfillment, especially

amongst nations, will have its complete accomplishment with regard to individuals


receive the things done in the body, Everyone shall receive — that it, carry away

with him — the things done in the body, according to that he hath done, whether

it be good or bad.  (Ecclesiastes 12:14)  The bad — the sins — must each be as a

scorpion sting throughout eternity. Every sinner WILL BE HIS OWN HELL!

 The memory of his sins will be perpetual torment. In days when men argue

against a future hell, it may be asked — Who will argue that justice must

extinguish the memory and take away the remorse of the sinner’s WILLFUL

TRANSGRESSIONS?   The recollection of the unpardoned sins of a lifetime

will in ITSELF BE TERRIBLE!   Let us, in this day of grace, when Jesus of


let us every one come to Him without delay. Let us accept His forgiving mercy,

that our sins may be blotted out. Let us yield to the guidance of His Holy Spirit.

And let us put on the Lord Jesus Christ, that we may be able to stand in the

judgment. (Luke 21:36_  Henceforth may this be our language:


                        “Jesus, thy blood and righteousness

                        My beauty are, my glorious dress;

                        ‘Midst flaming worlds in these arrayed,

                        With joy shall I lift up my head”!



Social Retribution (v. 15)


There are two great popular errors concerning the subject of retribution.


1. That retribution is reserved entirely for the future state. That the future

state will be a state of retribution — a state in which every man shall be

rewarded according to his works — must be admitted by every thoughtful

student of the Bible. But retribution is not only future; it is here; retribution

is an eternal principle of the Divine government; it follows sin at all times

and forever. The men and nations whose acts are registered in the Bible

proclaim the grand truth, “Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in

the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner” (Proverbs 11:31).

God actually exercises dominion or government over us at present, by rewarding

and punishing us for our actions in as strict and proper a sense of these words,

and even in the same sense, as children, servants, subjects, are rewarded and

punished by those who govern them.’” Did not retributive justice strike our first

parents and Cain at once? Did it not strike the antediluvian world, Sodom

and Gomorrah, etc.? Another popular error concerning retribution is:


2. That it is a special infliction of God. We do not say that God may not

break through the established order of things to inflict punishment, nor that

He has not done so; for the Bible furnishes us with instances to the

contrary. All we say is — this is not the general rule. Divine punishments

are natural events. DIVINE JUSTICE  works as naturally as DIVINE

GOODNESS!   Sin and punishment are indissolubly linked as cause and effect.

The text suggests two thoughts in relation to social retribution.




VICTIM. “As thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall

return upon thine own head.” The bitter cup thou hast given to thine enemy

shall come round to thee, and of its dregs thou shalt drink. This principle is

stated by Christ. “With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you

again.”  (Matthew 7:2)  The Bible is full of examples of this principle. Isaac

told a lie, affirming that his wife was his sister; and he is told a lie by his

son Jacob, who declared himself to be Esau. Jacob had deceived his aged

parent in relation to Esau; his sons deceive him with regard to Joseph. He

had embittered the declining years of his aged sire; his children embittered

his. Again, Joseph was sold by his brethren as a bond servant into Egypt; in

Egypt his brethren are compelled to resign themselves as bond servants to

him. All history is full of examples, and everywhere in modern society

illustrative cases may be selected. The deceiver himself is deceived, the

fraudulent is himself cheated, the hater is himself hated, the cruel is often

ruthlessly treated. Thus “as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee.”


“Hear the just law, the judgment of the skies;

He that hates truth shall be the dupe of lies”




VISITATION OF ALMIGHTY GOD. “The day of the Lord is near upon

all the heathen.” All days are His days. But it is not until the guilty

conscience is smitten with a sense of sin that it sees Him and feels that the

day is full of God. Electricity pervades the universe, is ubiquitous; but men

become conscious of it and talk of it only when it flashes in lightning and

sounds in thunder. So with God’s justice. It is everywhere; but when the

guilty conscience feels its punitive touch it calls it the day of judgment. The

righteous are now going into life eternal, every righteous deed is a step

onward; the wicked are now going into everlasting punishment, with every

sin they tramp downward.


  • CONCLUSION. Learn that no soul can sin with impunity; that every sin

carries with it punishment. “The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices

make whips to scourge us.” It may be, indeed, through the deadness of

your conscience and the superabundant mercies of this life, that you feel

not the retributive lash as you will feel it at some future time; but

retribution is working here.


“We still have judgment here that we but teach

Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return

To plague the inventor. This even-handed justice

Commends the ingredients of our poisoned chalice

To our own lips.”



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.”

As ye have drunk. There are two interpretations of this

passage. By the first, the people addressed are considered to be the Jews,

and the word “drunk” is taken metaphorically in both clauses (see note on

Nahum 3:11). The meaning is then this — As ye Jews, who are upon

my holy mountain, the people of election, have not escaped from suffering

the wrath of God, so all the nations shall feel the same, and that to a much

more terrible extent. Confirmatory of this explanation is the language of

Jeremiah, who (Jeremiah 25:15-29) bids all the nations to drink the cup

of God’s wrath, beginning at Jerusalem and passing on to Edom, and then

says, in answer to any who refuse the offered draught, “Lo, I begin to bring

evil on the city which is called by my name, and should ye be utterly

unpunished?” The same notion is found also in Jeremiah 49:12 and

Lamentations 4:21, etc. But there are objections to this view of the

passage. The previous verse enunciated the doctrine of retribution; this

verse confirms the former with the words, “for as ye,” etc. It would be no

proof of the lex talionis on the Edomites to cite what had happened to the

Jews. What is wanted is an assertion that what they had done should be

repaid to them in like coin, Besides, the prophecy is nominally addressed to

the Edomites, not to the Jews, and it would he most harsh to change the

subject suddenly here. “Upon my mountain” cannot be equivalent to “ye

who are upon my mountain;” nor is such an expression ever used to signify

“Judaeans.” It is best, therefore, to take the clause as referring to the

Edomites and their comrades, who, after their victory, indulged in

unseemly revelry, and profaned the mountain hallowed by God’s presence

in the temple with their idolatrous festival The “drinking” in this first clause

is literal; in the following clause it is figurative. Septuaguint, ἔπιεςepies –

 thou didst drink, which makes the connection of the subject here with that in

v. 15 more evident, and it has probably been altered by the translators for

that purpose. So shall all the heathen drink continually. The prophet

plays on the word “drink.” The nations shall drink, not wine, but the wrath

of God (Psalm 75:8; Jeremiah 25:15). The nations are spoken of

here because Edom is taken as a type of all nations hostile to God, and the

retribution that falls on him is extended to all who assume his attitude

towards God’s people. Continually; Vulgate, jugiter, perpetually, in

uninterrupted succession.  They shall swallow down; drink a full draught;

Septuagint, καταβήσονταιkatabaesontai -  they shall go down. They shall be

as though they had not been. They shall drain the wrath of God till they utterly

perish, till, as nations, they exist no more (compare Ezekiel 26:21; 27:36). Septuagint,

καθὼς οὐχ ὑπάρχοντεςkathos ouch huparchontes -  as if not, being.


God’s omniscient eye was on the Edomites, noted not only their positive acts,

but the workings of their inner souls. Sin in all its operations is evermore under

the eye of Omniscience. He knows the way each spirit takes. He searcheth all

hearts, and understandeth all their thoughts. The ways of man are before the

 eyes of the Lord, and He pondereth their doings (Proverbs 5:21); they “are

 in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” (ibid. ch. 15:3)This fact,

for an incontrovertible fact it is, should be practically realized. And if practically

realized it will have a effect on the soul.


Ø      It will stimulate to great spiritual activity.  What soul could sleep

if it felt the eye of God ever resting on it?


Ø      It will restrain from the commission of sin. “Thou God seest me”

     (Genesis 16:13) is a powerful preventive.


Ø      It will excite the desire for pardon.  God has seen all our sins,

      that they are great in number and enormity, and they must either

      be punished or be absolved.


A just and terrible retribution awaits sin in all its forms. “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,”  Retribution

is a settled law in the material universe. “With what measure ye mete,

it shall be measured to you again.”  (Matthew 7:2)  There is a

rebound in every sin. No crime has ever been committed that does not

come back with a terrible rebound on the soul of the author. “They shall

drink, and they shall swallow down.” To swallow up and to be swallowed

up is the world’s destiny.



Social Cruelty: A Sin against the Creator (vs. 10-16)


“For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and

thou shalt be cut off forever,” etc. Social cruelty is the grand subject of

these verses, and the cruelty is that which one brother perpetrates on

another — Esau on Jacob. Wrong or violence is all the more reprehensible

when it is committed against a brother. The fraternal relation in which

Edom stood towards Judah is still more sharply defined by the name Jacob,

since Esau and Jacob were twin brothers. The consciousness that the

Israelites were their brethren ought to have impelled the Edomites to

render helpful support to the oppressed Judaeans. Instead of this, they not

only reveled with scornful and malignant pleasure in the misfortune of the

brother nation, but endeavored to increase it still further by rendering

active support to the enemy. This hostile behavior of Edom arose from

envy at the election of Israel, like the hatred of Esau toward Jacob

(Genesis 27:41), which was transmitted to his descendants and came

out openly in the time of Moses in the unbrotherly refusal to allow the

Israelites to pass in a peaceable manner through their land (Numbers

20:14-21).  These verses present to us social cruelty in three different

features — as a sin against the Creator; perpetrated against a brother,

specially offensive to God; as working in various forms from generation to

generation. We shall devote a brief homiletical sketch to each of these.

This passage implies, first, that social cruelty is a sin against the Creator;

and the truth of this will appear from four subjects of thought.



opposed to the normal condition of the human spirit. He who will study his

own spiritual constitution will not fall to observe three great facts in

relation to this subject.


Ø      The existence of social love. Social sympathy is one of the primary

elements of our nature: its instinct is to render service to others and to seek

their good will and fellowship. The malign is not inherent in man. Cruelty in

him is not innate, as in the tiger and the bear. We are made to love and to

be loved.


Ø      The instinctive condemnation of cruel acts. Never in the history of a

soul has it instinctively approved of acts of cruelty as perpetrated either by

itself or others. Conscience thunders against all such deeds: on the

benevolent, and on the benevolent only, it smiles.


Ø      Innate craving for social approbation. The soul not only deprecates the

ill will and loathing of society, but yearns deeply and always for its

approval. But this can only be attained by benevolent deeds. Now,

inasmuch as the constitution of the soul is an expression of the Divine

will, and that constitution is against cruelty, cruelty is an outrage on

the Divine order.


  • THE COMMON RELATION OF ALL TO GOD. He is the Father of

all men. No one of the human race is nearer to Him than another. Each is

His offspring and bears His image. And between all there is, therefore, the

relationship of brotherhood. It cannot be the will of the great Father that

His children should act as wild beasts, inflicting cruelty on each other, and

thus harass His benevolent ears with the groans and shrieks of His offspring.

What human father does not deprecate one of His children inflicting an

injury on another, and does not ardently desire that each should work for

the other? Are we more loving than He who made us? Does the brooklet

contain more than the ocean?



took on Him the nature of man. He was the Son of man, not the Son of Jew

or Gentile, rich or poor, bend or free, but the Son of man. The nature of all

men was in Him. He wore the nature of every man, He propounded

doctrines for every man, He enacted laws for every man, He tasted death

for every man. He was not ashamed to call us brethren. He loved the world,

and gave Himself for it. How abhorrent, then, must it be to Him and to His

blessed Father for one man to inflict cruelty upon another!



Decalogue, as reduced and enforced by Christ, consists in loving God with

all our hearts, and our neighbor as ourselves. And everywhere in the New

Testament are we exhorted to “be kindly affectioned one to another”

(Romans 12:10), to “recompense to no man evil for evil.”  (ibid. v. 17)


  • CONCLUSION. How obvious it is, then, that social cruelty in all its forms

is a sin against the Creator! The man who injures his fellow creature is a

rebel against the government of the universe.



An Old Sin (vs. 10-16)


“For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and

thou shalt be cut off forever. 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,” etc. These words present to us an old sin in one or

two aspects.



POSTERITY. “For thy violence against thy brother Jacob,” etc. What was

the sin? “And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his

father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my

father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob” (Genesis 27:41).

Envy was the sin; and this envy towards Jacob, or Israel, was transmitted

from generation to generation. The spirit of envy that was kindled in the

heart of Esau towards his brother Jacob glowed and flamed with more or

less intensity for ages in the soul of Edom towards the descendants of

Jacob. Edom continued to be the inveterate foe of Israel Neither a man’s

sinful passion nor his deed stops with himself. Like a spring from the

mountain, it runs down posterity, often gathering volume as it proceeds.

No sinner liveth to himself. One man’s sins may vibrate in the soul of

another a thousand ages on. This is shown in almost every chapter of the

history of nations. The fire of vengeance which the cruelty of one nation

kindles in its victim will not expire at the conquest. It will burn on until it

breaks out in fury, and wreaks vengeance upon its own conqueror. Hence

he that taketh the sword always perishes by the sword. This fact should:


Ø      Impress us with the awfulness of our existence. It is true that in one

sense we are little beings, occupying but a small space in the universe, and

soon pass away and are forgotten; still there goes forth from us an

influence that shall never end. We throw seed into the mind of the world

that will germinate, grow, and multiply indefinitely, and yield harvests of

misery or joy.


Ø      Impress us with the duty of every lover of the universe to protest against

sin in individuals. A man may say, “What does it matter to you that I sin?”

My reply is, “It does matter to me as a benevolent citizen of the universe. If

your sin merely damned yourself, it is sad enough; but it does not end

there; its pernicious influence on the universe is inconceivably great and




HISTORY OF POSTERITY. God’s eye traced it from Esau down. How

does He treat it? He reprobates it. “For thy violence against thy brother

Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off forever. 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 brother,” etc.  These Edomites, it would seem from

the words, did stand on the other side without rendering help in the day when

the stranger entered Jerusalem; they did “rejoice” over the children of Judah

 at that period; they did “speak proudly” in the day of distress; they did

enter into the gate” of God’s people in the “day of calamity;” they did

lay hands on their substance” on that day; they did stand in the “crossway”

and “cut” those off “that did escape.” The omniscient eye saw all this.

The Jews appeal to Him to recompense the cruelty of these Edomites.

“Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem;

who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof!” (Psalm 137:7).

For all this God says shame should come on them, and shame did come.

They are blotted from the history of the living. God condemns sin wherever

it is, however it comes, and whatever its pedigree. It may be asked — If it

were the envy of Esau that thus came down from age to age in his posterity,

and worked these deeds of crime, where is the justice of God in reprobating

them? They only inherit the iniquities of their fathers. We answer:


Ø      Sin is abhorrent TO JEHOVAH.   It is the “abominable thing”

which He hates:


Ø      The very essence of sin is its freeness. Sin is not a forced act; no deed

performed by a man against his will has any moral character, or can in a

moral sense be either good or bad. The posterity of Esau were not

compelled to cherish and develop the envy of their great progenitor. Each

one could have quenched it.  (I Corinthians 10:13)   Each, no doubt, felt

it to be contrary to his moral nature, and that it ought to be expelled.

The Almighty knew that each man was free; hence His reprobation of sin

wherever found.



The “lex talionis” (vs. 15-16)


The principle of government or of retribution known as the lex talionis was

known to the Hebrews as well as to other nations. “It was said by them of

old time, An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” (Matthew 5:33,38)  Passages

in Ezekiel contain threatenings of a retribution similar to that which in this

passage is denounced upon Edom.



“The day of the Lord” is an expression frequently occurring in the

prophetic writings, and always denoting a season of retribution appointed

by a righteous God. The day when iniquity is rampant, when injustice is

perpetrated and is apparently unnoticed, is the day of man. But as surely as

the universe is governed by a Being of rectitude, so surely shall the cause

of equity and truth be vindicated; and the time of such vindication, come

when it may, is the day of the Lord.



done, it shall be done unto thee.” Edom had deserted her friends; she

should be deserted. Edom had spoiled her neighbors; she should be

spoiled. And this doom was threatened, not upon Edom only, but upon “all

the heathen,” i.e. upon all who shared Edom’s guilt. Whether this was to

happen by the working out of what we call a natural law, or by a special

interposition of Providence, we are not told, and this is immaterial. History

records very many instances in which this principle has operated, in which

this doom has been inflicted.



RETRIBUTION. Our Lord Jesus has taught us that the lex talionis is not

an adequate principle of human conduct. Much less can it be deemed the

perfect and final law of the Divine government. Mercy triumphs over

wrath. Where there is true repentance on man’s part, there is ready

forgiveness on God’s part. If this were not so, the human race would long

ago have perished; if this were not so, we should not now be rejoicing in




                        THE RESTORATION OF ISRAEL (vs. 17-21)


While judgment falls upon heathen nations, the house of Jacob shall be delivered,

shall add to its possessions, and spread far and wide.


17 “But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be

holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.”

Upon Mount Zion. Once desecrated by the idolatrous revelry

of the Edomites and the other nations, now the seat of Jehovah (Joel 3:17)

and the kingdom. Deliverance (peletah); Septuagint, σωτηρία – sotaeria –

Abstract for concrete, and to be rendered, those that escape, or those

that are saved; i.e. a remnant that shall escape destruction (compare Joel

2:32; Amos 9:8). There shall be holiness; rather, it (Mount Zion)

shall be holy; so Septuagint, καὶ ἔσται ἄγιον – kai estai hagion -

Hebrew, kodesh, “a sanctuary,” where the heathen shall not come (Isaiah 52:1;

compare Joel 3:17 [4:17, Hebrew]; Revelation 21:27). The house of Jacob.

Judah and Benjamin, the holy seed, in whom the kingdom of the Lord

should be established (compare v. 18). The northern kingdom is not

mentioned. Shall possess their possessions; Septuagint,

Κατακληρονομήσουσιν ὁ οϊκος Ἰακὼβ τοὺς κατακληρονομὴσουσιν ὁ αὐτούς  -

Kataklaeronmaesousin ho oikos Iakob tous kataklaeronomaesousin ho autos –

The house of Jacob shall take for an inheritance those who took them for an

inheritance;” Vulgate, Possidebit domus Jacob eos qui se

possederant. These versions must have used a different punctuation from

that of the Masoretic text — morishehem for morashehom (compare

Numbers 24:18-19). The Hebrew pronoun is ambiguous, and “their

possessions” may mean either those that the Jews themselves had lost, or

those of the Edomites. But nothing is said of Israel being carried away

captive and losing its country; and, though the prophet may have looked

forward to such a catastrophe and to a future restoration, this is not the

subject here. The possessions referred to are those of the enemy

represented by the Edomites, and those which the Jews had lost since the

days of David and Solomon; and “the house of Jacob” signifies, not merely

the earthly kingdom of Judah, but “the people of God, who are eventually

to obtain the dominion of the world.  (Mark 16:15)



                                    Restoration (v. 17)


It is a peculiarity of the Hebrew prophets that, however gloomy might

seem to them the immediate future of their nation, they ever saw beyond

the darkness into the glorious light of the future. Opinions have differed,

and still differ, as to the reference of many of their predictions of coming

prosperity and blessedness. Some refer those visions to a time not long

subsequent to the prophet’s own time. Others still look for their literal

fulfillment in the political history of Israel in the future. Whilst others

believe that the visions were not of mere earthly peace and prosperity, but

of the spiritual kingdom of Christ and of the true Israel of God, the Church

of the living God. Certainly such language as that of the text, whatever be

its literal application, contains promises which Christians alone can fully




            of the captives and exiles to their native soil, their much-loved city, is a

            picture of the restoration of sinners to the favor and fellowship of the God

            whom they had angered and alienated. God deviseth means whereby His

            banished ones shall return. (II Samuel 14:14)  Christ is the Redeemer, and

            deliverance is His great work. His people are the saved, the rescued, the    

            emancipated, the restored.



            captivity of the Jews had removed them from their metropolis and from

            their temple, the holy place of their God. At the same time, the heathen had

            polluted and defiled the sanctuary of Jehovah. The return from exile was to

            be the occasion of the restoration of the holy people to the holy house, and

            the restoration of the sanctuary to its sacred uses. In the Church of the

            Redeemer the Spirit of holiness takes up His abode. It is filled with sacred

            services and observances. “Holiness becometh thy house, O Lord, forever.”

            (Psalm 93:5)



            OF SECURITY AND PLENTY. “The house of Jacob shall possess their

            possessions.” The lands and houses which the people had inherited from

            their forefathers had been occupied by strangers. But upon the restoration

            the Hebrews took possession of their ancient homes and fields, and abode

            in peace and enjoyed plenty. In this their position was an emblem of that

            into which Christ’s redeemed people are introduced by His grace. All things

            are theirs. They possess the privileges of the gospel and the peace of the

            Spirit, and theirs is the blessed hope of an inheritance incorruptible,

            undefiled, and unfading.



Safety, Sanctity, and Sufficiency (v. 17)


“But upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance, and it shall be holy; and the

house of Jacob shall, possess their possessions.” What a burst of heavenly

sunshine! What an effusion of joyous light! What music from the throne of

God! What an evangel at the fourth watch of the night! What a smile of

Divine love for the cast down and sorely afflicted captive! Safety, sanctity,

sufficiency. The inspired prophet here sets forth some of the richest

treasures of the grace of God. They tell of deliverance from Babylon and

restoration by Cyrus; they expand to the later deliverance from the

Idumeans by the Maccabees; and, what especially applies to us, they stretch

to the glorious salvation wrought for captive sinners by the Lord and

Saviour Jesus Christ. Safety, sanctity, and sufficiency, — these are fully set

before us in the gospel. They are the heritage of those who have come to

Mount Zion, to the city of the living God. Let us prayerfully study them.


  • SAFETY. “Upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance.”


Ø      This is deliverance from the Law. “There is no condemnation to them

who are in Christ Jesus.”  (Romans 8:1)  “The law of the Spirit of life in

Christ Jesus hath made us free from the law of sin and death.” (ibid. v.2) 

The ten thousand condemning voices of the Law are silenced by the

Deliverer. Christ has met the Law’s requirements. His people are free.

They are free indeed. The old handwriting against them was cancelled

by the cross. The debt is paid. We are not under Law, but under grace.


Ø      This is deliverance from sin. “He shall be called Jesus: for He shall save

His people from their sins.” Yes, from the penalty, from the power, and

from the presence of their sins. What a glorious deliverance!


Ø      This is deliverance from Satan. “The Seed of the woman has bruised the

serpent’s head.” Christ has vanquished our deadly foe. Now, if we resist

the devil, he will flee from us.


“Captivity is captive led,

Since Jesus liveth who was dead.”


Ø      This is deliverance from the world. He who said, “Be of good cheer; I

have overcome the world,” prayed that His people might be kept from the

evil in the world. (John 16:33; 17:15)  Through Him we are more than

conquerors. “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”

                  (Romans 8:37; I John 5:4)


Ø      This is deliverance from death. “O death, where is thy sting?” He that

trusteth in Christ shall never die. That which we call death is to the servant

of God the gate of life. The Christian is promised that he shall not taste of

death. The death he undergoes is only the death of pain, of sickness, of

sorrow, of sin, of death. To depart is to be with Christ, which is far better

than remaining here — far better.


“Forever with the Lord:

Amen, so let it be.

Life from the dead is in that word,

‘Tis immortality.”


    “Upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance.”


  • In the next place, WE FIND SANCTITY PROMISED. “It shall be

holy.” In its present day application this promise sets forth the

sanctification of God’s Israel. It is not sufficient to realize deliverance; we

are to seek holiness. Joshua’s captains were not only to put their feet upon

the necks of the five king of the enemy, but they were to go forward and

possess the whole of Canaan. Deliverance from foes in the cave of the

heart is only preparatory to further conquests and higher attainments. We

are delivered from our enemies that we may serve God without fear, “in

holiness and righteousness all the days of our life.” (Luke 1:75)  “It shall

be holy.” The Christian’s sanctification is twofold.


Ø      He is sanctified as set apart for God. Like the vessels of the sanctuary,

he is consecrated to holy uses. It was Belshazzar’s great sin that he took

the vessels of the temple and put them to a profane use. God’s people are

to be vessels unto honor, meet for the Master’s service (II Timothy 2:21),

resting on the heavenly Eliakim. Not their own; a separate people;

sanctified or set apart by God the Father.


Ø      The other view of the Christian’s sanctification is the blessed hallowing

of the Holy Spirit. This is a progressive work. We are to grow in grace,

and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour.  (II Peter 3:18)  We are to

add to our faith.  (ibid. ch. 1:5)  We are to be going from strength to strength.

(Psalm 84:7)  We are to press towards the mark of the high calling of God

in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14)  We are to be changed from glory to glory

by the Spirit of the Lord.  (II Corinthians 3:18)  “Upon Mount Zion shall be

 deliverance, and it shall be holy.” May we now seek to be filled with the

Spirit of holiness!


  • The third great promise of my text is SUFFICIENCY. “The house of

Jacob shall possess their possessions.” Here is all-sufficiency in all things. It

is as the heir entering upon his inheritance. “My beloved is mine, and I am

his;” “All things are ours, the world, life, death, things present, things to

come, — all are ours.” In possessing our possessions we enter upon the

unsearchable riches of Christ. His salvation ours; His pardon ours; His joy

ours; His rest ours; His kingdom ours; His angels ours; His home ours; His

glory ours. Christ Himself ours; Christ in us the Hope of glory; Christ for us

the Pledge of glory; crucified together with Him; raised together with Him;

seated together with Him; glorified together. Oh, the unsearchable riches of

the Christian! May we learn to possess our possessions, to use our talents,

to enjoy our privileges, to rise to our dignity, to realize our standing, to

pass through the length and breadth of our Canaan! Ours a righteousness

which is Divine; a peace which surpasseth understanding; a joy which is

unspeakable; a love which passeth knowledge; a kingdom which cannot be

moved; a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Oh, let us go up and

possess! Safety, sanctity, sufficiency. Eternal safety, Divine sanctity, all

sufficiency in all things. “Upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance, and it shall

be holy; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.”



The True Church; or, The Community of the Good:  A Beneficent Power

                                                            (v. 17)


“But upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and

the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.” Obadiah here

commences his predictions respecting the restoration of the Jews from

Babylonish captivity, their reoccupation of Caanan, and the reign of the

Messiah. While the surrounding nations were to disappear, the Jews should

regain possession of the land of their fathers. Mount Zion may be taken

here as the symbol of the true Church of God, that is, the community of

godly men existing on this earth. In this sense it is referred to in Hebrews.

Here the whole passage may be taken as representing this true Church, or

godly community, in three aspects — as a beneficent power; a consuming

power; and an aggressive power. The subject of the sketch is on the

Church as the beneficent power, which we have in the seventeenth verse.

Three thoughts are suggested by the words concerning the Church as a

beneficent power.



be deliverance.” Mount Zion was the asylum for those who had escaped. In

Mount Zion shall be the escaped. From Babylonian captivity and suffering

they returned to Mount Zion, or Jerusalem, and were safe. There they

enjoyed their old protection. In the true Church there is spiritual safety; it is

a refuge that is built upon a rock, and the gates of hell cannot prevail

against it. It is watched by the infinite love and guarded by the almighty

power of Christ; its blessed Keeper never slumbers nor sleeps  (Psalm 121:4)

Oh, ye imperiled spirits pursued by the powers of hell, led by the devil

captives, and sold under sin, flee to this Mount Zion, this true Church of God,

this community of godly men, which is at once the organ and the residence of



  • IT IS CONNECTED WITH PURITY. “There shall be holiness.” Moral

pollution, or sin, is the source of all the calamities that befall men. Mount

Zion is a consecrated spot. If there is holiness anywhere it is in connection

with that community of men called the Church, which embraces the

principles, cherishes the spirit, follows the example of the Son of God.

True, the members are not perfect yet; but they are in the process of

cleansing, and are already holy as compared with the pollutions of the

ungodly world.


  • IT IS CONNECTED WITH ENJOYMENT. “And the house of Jacob

shall possess their possessions.” Though the houses of Jacob and Joseph

are here spoken of separately, it was not the intention of the prophet to

teach that the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel would be re-established.

Yet the special mention of Joseph clearly shows that the ten tribes were to

return at the same time, and jointly with Judah and Benjamin, to possess

the land of Palestine and the neighboring regions (see Isaiah 11:12-14;

Hosea 1:11). The restored Hebrews would unitedly subdue the

Idumeans; which they did in the time of John Hyrcanus, who compelled

them to be circumcised, and so incorporated them with the Jews that they

henceforward formed part of the nation. The word “possess” here means

enjoy — enjoy their possessions. The community of the true Church alone

enjoy their possessions. They are a happy people; all things are theirs; they

are full of joy; they even glory in tribulation. “Blessed are the people that

know the joyful sound!” (Psalm 89:15).


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.”

The last clause of the preceding verse is here expanded and

more fully explained. The house of Jacob... the house of Joseph. The

kingdoms of Judah and Israel, the two and the ten tribes united once more,

In Psalm 77:15 the whole people are called “the sons of Jacob and

Joseph.” So elsewhere. The reunion of the tribes is mentioned in Hosea

1:11; Ezekiel 37:19; Zechariah 10:6. The future salvation is to be

FOR ALL!   For stubble, which the Israelites used rather than wood for lighting

fires and heating ovens (Matthew 6:30). (For the image of fire consuming the

ungodly as stubble, see Exodus 15:7; Isaiah 5:24; Nahum 1:10.) They shall kindle

in them. This may mean, the Israelites “shall burn among” the Edomites; but more

probably is merely a repetition of what has gone before: the Jews shall consume

the Edomites. There shall not be any remaining. This refers to the total annihilation

of the Edomites under John Hyrcauus (Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 12:8. 6; 13:9, 1), and

is a punishment quite distinct from their defeat at the hands of the

Nabathaeans predicted in vs. 1-9. The Septuagint gives, οὐκ ἕσται πυροφόρος

ouk estai purophoros – and there will not be any remaining; St. Jerome reads,

πυροφόροςpurophoros - which he translated frumentarius. Many of the Fathers

read, πυρφόροςpurphoros – fire bearing -  thus, too, the Arabic and Coptic

Versions. Schleusner,  sub voce, thinks that the Septuagint had in view the Greek

proverb, οὐδέ πυρφόρος - oude purphoros -  which is used to express the idea that

not even a single survivor remains (see Herod., 8:6). For the Lord hath spoken it

(Joel 3:8).



Truth Triumphant (v. 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.”




may appear to lose many a battle, but in the end it will assuredly prevail.

Edom, long hostile to God’s ancient Israel, is likened to stubble before the

flames. Happy the people who are on the conqueror’s side. When Israel

was in Egypt, captive and down trodden, it seemed impossible that they

could ever march forth to liberty and Canaan. But the time came when they

sang of victory, and Pharaoh and his captains were as stubble before the

flame. When Asa found the vast hosts of the Ethiopians coming against

him, it might have appeared impossible to subdue them. But Asa knew the

secret of power. The Ethiopians were soon as stubble before the flame.

When the Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites were confederate against

Jehoshaphat, it seemed as if the might and greatness were on the side of the

enemy, but good King Jehoshaphat gave himself to prayer and praise —

believing prayer, and joyous and confiding praise. The enemies were soon

as the stubble before the flame. And so in the end truth itself shall prevail.

Foes may be mighty and gospel doctrines may seem to make slow progress,

but the time must come when “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the

Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:9)  That was a  wondrous vision

once seen by John: war in heaven — Michael and his angels fought against the

dragon and his angels, and the dragon was cast out, and his angels with him.

(Revelation 12:7-9)  “So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord: but let them

that love thee be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might.” (Judges 5:31)

The Church of God has often been likened to a worm, yet it is to thresh the

mountain, and is seen in sacred song as “fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and

terrible as an army with banners.”  (Song of Solomon 6:4)  Thus weakness is girt

about with strength, because God Himself fights His people’s battles, and is one

with them. “He that seeketh thy life seeketh my life;” “He that toucheth you

toucheth the apple of mine eye.” (II Samuel 22:23; Zechariah 2:8) 

All-conquering oneness. This secret of conquest may be seen by comparing

our text with Isaiah 10:17. In our text the word is, “The house of Jacob shall

be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble;”

but the word in Isaiah is, “The light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy

One for a flame: and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one

day.” Thus the Lord espouses the cause of His people; so that in all things they

are more than conquerors through Him who loved them.  (Romans 8:37)



APPLIES TO ALL THE ENEMIES OF GOD. As it is said that the house

of Esau shall be as stubble consumed by the flame, so in New Testament

language the ungodly are likened to chaff which shall be burned with

unquenchable fire. It is a dreadful thing to be found amongst the enemies of

God. Paul, we read, wept because there were men who were enemies of

the cross of Christ. A man who is hostile to the atonement of the Saviour

shows he refuses to be reconciled to God.


1.      The message of reconciliation has come to us.

2.      The way of peace is proclaimed to us.

3.      The gospel of God’s grace is set before us.

4.      The path of life is revealed.

5.      Salvation is offered without money and without price.

6.      When we were enemies Christ died for us.


Now, the promise is, “peace by the blood of the cross.” And some

spurn the cross. The apostle might well weep. Angels might well weep.

The Saviour Himself wept over such. There cannot be hope for a man who

remains an enemy of the cross of Christ. The house of Esau shall be as

stubble. The ungodly are as the chaff. There cometh One “whose fan is in

His hand, and He will throughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into

His garner, but burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:12)

And not only is this part of our text applicable to all the enemies of God; it

reminds us of the overthrow of all that is evil. Every plant that the Father hath

not planted shall be rooted up. (Matthew 15:13) 


1.  Truth shall prevail over error.

2.  Light shall conquer darkness.

3.  Eternal day shall chase away the shades of night.

4.  Goodness shall prove stronger than sin.

5.  The Seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head.


All things shall be subdued unto Christ. “He must reign till He hath put

all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”

(I Corinthians 15:25-26)  Ere a little, and the song shall be heard, “The Lord

God omnipotent reigneth.”


1.      Voices as of many waters,

2.      voices as of mighty thunders,

3.      voices loud and strong,

4.      voices of angels,

5.      voices of the redeemed of men,

6.      joyous coronation voices, shall soon unite in proclaiming the once

despised Man of sorrows “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

And He shall reign forever.” (Revelation 11:15)   “And the glory of the Lord

 shall be  revealed , and all flesh shall see it together:  for the Lord hath

spoken it.”  (Isaiah 40:5)



The True Church; or, The Community of the Good:  A Consuming Power

                                                (v. 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.” There is a fire in the true Church. Notice:



the fire? The fire of truth, that burns up error; the fire of right, that burns

up wickedness; the fire of love, that burns up selfishness. “I am come,” said

Christ, “to kindle a fire upon the earth.”  (Luke 12:49)  “Is not my Word

like a fire?”  (Jeremiah 23:29)


Ø      The fire in the Church is a strong fire. It has burnt an enormous amount

of wickedness in every form, age, and land. It has burnt through the fiercest

storms of centuries.


Ø      It is an extending fire. Its flames are ever advancing, they reach further

today than ever. The most splendid systems of men, ethical, theological,

and philosophic, however brilliant, have been but sparks compared to this;

they have burnt on a little and gone out in darkness.


Ø      It is a steady fire. It does not flare and flash, but burns its way silently

wherever it goes.


Ø      It is an unquenchable fire. Men have tried to put it out, oceans of

infidelity and depravity have been poured upon it, but it burns on.



What is moral depravity in all its forms — theoretical and practical,

religious, social, political? What is it, however old, however decorated with

worldly power and grandeur? What is it? “Stubble.” It is not a rock, that

stands fixed amidst the surges of time; not a tree, that has roots that may

grow forever; it is mere stubble, dry, sapless, worthless “stubble,” ready for

the fire. Error to truth, wrong to right, malice to love, is but stubble to fire.


  • CONCLUSION. God speed this fire until the whole world of wickedness

shall be destroyed, until its heavens be dissolved, its earth burnt up, and its

elements melt with fervent heat, and there come out of it “a new heaven

and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness”!   (II Peter 3:13)


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.”  Judah and Benjamin between them shall possess the whole

territory that once belonged to the children of Israel. In Joshua 15:21,

33, 48, the inheritance of Judah is distributed into three portions — the

south, the plain, and the mountains; the same divisions are noticeable here

(see note on Zechariah 7:7). They of the south. The inhabitants of the

Negeb, “the dry country” the southern part of Judah, shall take possession

of Idumea (Amos 9:12). They of the plain. Of the Shephelah, or “low

land” — the maritime plain and the country held by the Philistines

(II Chronicles 28:18; Zephaniah 2:7). And they shall possess. The

Judaeans not already mentioned, i.e. those of the mountains, shall take the

territory of the ten tribes. The fields of Ephraim, and the fields of

Samaria. The country, and the capital. Septuagint, τὸ ὄρος Αφραὶμ καὶ τὸ πεδίον

Σαμαρείας, - to oros Aphraim kai to pedion Samareias -  “the Mount of Ephraim

and the Plain of Samaria.”  Others translate, “Ephraim shall possess the field of

Samaria,” considering that otherwise Ephraim would be excluded from the

restored kingdom, and Judah would inherit the territory of Ephraim, in violation

of the covenant. But the Israelites proper were merged in the Judaeans at the

return; and if Benjamin possesses Gilead, it is not unnatural that Judah should

extend northward to Samaria. And Benjamin shall possess Gilead. Benjamin,

the other portion of the house of Jacob, whose territory originally reached to

the river, shall possess all the territory on the other side of Jordan. Thus the

restored people shall, in accordance with the promise in Genesis 28:14,

“spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south”

(compare Isaiah 54:1-3). Obadiah sees the twelve tribes, once more united,

extending their territory on every side; and, to make this evident, he gives certain

examples, using Judah and Benjamin as equivalent to “the people of God,”

and their enlargement as denoting the majestic progress of the kingdom of God.


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. Septuagint, Καὶ τῆς μετοικεσίας ἡ ἀρχὴ αὔτη τοῖς υἱοῖς Ισραὴλ γῆ τῶν

Ξαναναίων ἕως ΣαρεπτῶνKai taes metoikesias hae archae autae tois

huiois Israel gae ton Samanaion ehos Sarepton - And this shall be the beginning

of the captivity of the children of Israel, the land of the Canaanites as far as Sarepta.

This would imply that the Ephraimites should be the first to go into exile, and on

their return should occupy the territory of the Canaanites on the north. But

ἀρχὴ may mean domain. Vulgate, Et transmigratio exercitus hujus

filiorum Israel, omnia loca Chananaeorum usque ad Sareptam. The

general meaning is that Jewish captives, who have been taken to other

lands, shall return and possess the cities of the south. The sentence in the

Hebrew is incomplete. Our translators supply, “shall possess.” Pusey (in

agreement with the Chaldee, and virtually with the Septuagint) renders,

“which are among the Canaanites;” and this seems to be correct, making

“shall possess the cities of the south” the predicate of both clauses. So the

first portion of the verse means, as Henderson says, the number of

Israelitish captives which were found in Phoenicia, into which they had

been sold at different times as slaves (compare vs. 11, 14; Joel 3:6-7).

This host. Not a general deportation, but only the portion of the people

referred to. From this expression some have inferred that Obadiah himself

was one of this body. This is possible, but not necessary. The captives who

are among the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; as far as Zarephath, were

probably placed there for safe keeping before being sold into Greece and

other countries. Zarephath (“Melting house”), the Sarepta of Luke

(4:26), now Surafend or Sarafend, and celebrated in the history of Elijah

(I Kings 17:9, etc.), lay between Tyre and Sidon, a little inland, and

was a town of some importance, as its ruins prove. The captivity of

Jerusalem. The captives from Jerusalem. Which is in Sepharad; Septuagint,

ἕως Ἐφραθά - heos Ephratha - as far as Ephrathah; Vulgate, quae in Bosphoro est.

The name occurs nowhere else in the Bible, and its identification cannot be

established. Jerome suggests, in his commentary, that it is the Assyrian for

“boundary,” and not a proper name at all. The Peshito and the rabbins And

modern Jews interpret it as “Spain.” Keil supposes it to be “Sparta;” Pusey,

Sardis.” For this last explanation some ground has been found in an

inscription of Nakshi-Rustam, where a place called Cparda occurs in a list

of tribes between Cappadocia and Ionia; and Cparda is considered to be

the Persian form of Sardis (see Schrader, ‘Keilinschr.,’ p. 445, etc.). A

further confirmation of this identification is found in the complaint of Joel

(3:6 [4:6, Hebrew], that the Phoenicians had sold Israelites “unto the sons

of the Grecians.” Professor Sayce, in a note to G. Smith’s ‘History of

Babylonia,’ p. 156, places “Saparda” on the Black Sea. It may be

questioned, however, whether some town nearer Judaea is not intended.

Ewald would read “Sepharam,” a town in North Palestine. The two bodies

of captives shall possess the cities of the south. The Negeb. The cities are

named in Joshua 19.



                                    Rehoboth (vs. 19-20)


“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 [or

rather, ‘the captivity,’ etc., ‘which are among the Canaanites’ (Pusey,

following the Chaldee, etc.)], even unto Zarephath; and the captivity of

Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the south.” Here

we have wideness at last; Rehoboth after narrowness, strife, contention,

and hatred (Genesis 26.). The house of Jacob is shown us stretching forth

in all directions — north, south, east, and west; the promises long looked

for fulfilled; Jacob, long pent in, now enjoying a large room. The cries in

narrowness have been answered in wideness. Rehoboth is inscribed on

Judah’s banner, and little Benjamin shares the plenteousness. They of the

south have no Edomite enemy; nay, the mount of Esau is their possession.

They of the plain have no Philistine foe; their own borders reach to the

coast. Over Philistia they triumph. The giants of Gath lie in the dust. The

men of Ashdod and Ekron, who sang the praise of Dagon, are no more.

Ashkelon and Gaza are silent in death. They of the plain possess the whole

territory of the Philistines, with the sea for their only border. But much

more than this. They extend northward. They take in Ephraim. No more

shall Ephraim vex Judah. They also take in Samaria. No more shall it be

heard that the Samaritans have no part with the Jews. And more still

Benjamin shall possess Gilead, thus stretching to the east. It shall have a

portion on both sides of Jordan. And, further, Judah shall receive into

fellowship those who were carried away captive from them. Some in

Zarephath in Zidon, laboring as slaves in the smelting house, and the

captivity of Jerusalem shall possess the cities of the south.  Thus the

inspired prophet, from the sacred mount of vision, amongst other blessings,

notices these five:


(1) liberty after captivity;

(2) peace after war;

(3) wideness after straits;

(4) a portion on both sides of Jordan;

(5) unity after divisions and discord.


With what joy must Obadiah have seen all these rich blessings unfolded

before him! Liberty! Oh what a history of captivity and bondage was that

of the Jews! Peace! Their national life hitherto had been one of war.

Wideness! Up to this they had been sorely straitened and hemmed in in

veriest narrowness. A portion on both sides of Jordan! Hitherto they had

had their lot on the western side only. Unity! They had been torn by

divisions. They had been weakened, impoverished, and desolated by

divisions. How pleasant, therefore, the prospect of Judah receiving into its

bosom multitudes of the captivity of Israeli All one at last. One fold under

ONE SHEPHERD!   A delightful prospect. Obadiah, like another Moses, must

have viewed the scene with patriotic joy and hallowed fervor and

gratitude. And now for the spiritual application of the passage to ourselves.



people free. He came to lead captivity captive. He opens the prison to

those who were bound. His Word is the perfect law of liberty. The Apostle

Peter’s deliverance from prison is like a picture of the deliverance wrought

for the soul of man.  (Acts 12)  We were in the dark dungeon, fast bound in

misery and iron. Light shone in the prison. A friendly hand smote us. A voice

bade us arise. The fetters fell off. We were led forth from the darkness of death

into the light and liberty of the children of God. Or we may say, in the language

of David (Psalm 124:7), “Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of

the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped;” Joyous liberty,

blessed liberty, glorious liberty of the children of God.


  • PEACE IS OURS. The peace of the very God of peace. Secure

tranquility through the blood of the everlasting covenant. “Comfort ye,

comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem,

and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is

pardoned;”  (Isaiah 40:1)  “Peace to him that is far off, and to him that is

near, and I will heal him.”  (Isaiah 57:19)  Peace always and by all means.


  • WIDENESS IS OURS. “Thou hast known my soul in adversities;…thou

      hast set me in a large room.”  (Psalm 31:7-8)  The Lord brings His people

into a wealthy place. “Rehoboth” is written on the gospel “Rehoboth” is

written on the work of Christ. “Rehoboth” is written on the wells of

salvation. On the joys, the glories, the promises of covenant grace, the

letters are written as with Calvary’s blood — “Rehoboth.” Room enough

and to spare (Job 36:16).



Christian has the promise of the life that now is as well as that which is to

come. (I Timothy 4:8)  All things are ours.  (I Corinthians 3:21)  The world,

life, death, things present, things to come, the blessings of the throne and

the blessings of the footstool, the upper springs and the nether springs, —

all are ours. Oh, let us pity the men who have their portion ONLY IN

THIS LIFE!  Let us pray for those whose hearts and treasures are where

the rust and moth are. Let us seek to influence for good all those who have

no portion on both sides of Jordan.


  • Finally, THE CHURCH IS CALLED TO UNITY. We are to

endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  (Ephesians

4:3). There are many stones, but one temple. There are many children,

but one household — one family. There are many branches, but one Vine.

There are many members, but one body.  The Communion feast teaches

THIS ONENESS!   Our Lord’s great intercessorial prayer was that His people

ALL MIGHT BE ONE!  (John 17)   The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of

love and concord, calls us to oneness. The divisions of Christians must

grieve the Spirit.


“Our little systems have their day; .

They have their day, and cease to be,

They are but broken lights of thee,

And thou, O Lord, art more than they.”


Oh for another Pentecost, that the Church of today might be as the Church

of the first days; and the Redeemer’s words be exemplified “That they all

might be one, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me!

            (John 17:21)



The True Church; or, The Community of the Good:  An Aggressive Power

                                                (vs. 19-20)


“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,” etc. By the “south”

or southern part of Palestine is here meant those who should occupy it; and

by the “plain,” those who should occupy the low country along the shore of

the Mediterranean. According to the relative positions of those who

should take possession of the different parts of the Holy Land was to be the

enlargement of their territory by the annexation of the adjoining regions

which had formerly been occupied by allies or hostile powers. As there is

no subject specified before the country of Edom and the country of

Samaria, it seems to be intimated that the regions of Ephraim and Samaria

were to be occupied by the Jews and the Israelites jointly, without any

regard to tribal distinctions; and the reason why the tribe of Benjamin is

mentioned is merely on account of the proximity of Gilead to the territory

which it originally possessed. “The promise here,” says an old

expositor, “no doubt has a spiritual signification, and had its

accomplishment in the setting up of the Christian Church, the gospel Israel,

in the world; and shall have its accomplishment more and more in the

enlargement of it, and the additions made to it, till the mystical body is

completed. When ministers and Christians prevail with their neighbors to

come to Christ, to yield themselves to the Lord, they possess them. The

converts that Abraham had made are said to be the souls that he had gotten

(Genesis 12:5). The possession is gained, not vi et armis — by force

and arms; for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but spiritual; it is

by the preaching of the gospel, and the power of Divine grace going along

with it, that this possession is got and kept.” That the true Church is an

aggressive power will appear from considering the Gospel, which is at once

its inspiration, its life, and its instrument. Consider, therefore:



made up of two great elements, “grace and truth,” that is, eternal reality

and Divine benevolence. “Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17)

To show the aggressiveness of these two principles, two facts may be stated.


Ø      That the human soul is made to feel their imperial force. It is true that

the soul in its unregenerate state is ruled by directly opposite elements —

error and selfishness. But even error has power over it only so long as it

regards it as reality, and selfishness influences it under the guise of love. It

is the truth when made clear to it that comes with a conquering power; it is

love or grace that transports its heart. The human soul is made for these

two elements.


Ø      That the human soul is bound to yearn after these elements as its

highest good. Its deep hunger is for truth and for reality, for benevolence,

or love. It has no natural hunger for error, no natural hunger for



Ø      That the human soul is everywhere restless without THESE

      ELEMNETS.   It is only as the soul gets truth and grace into it that it

      becomes settled, calm; self-united. These are facts connected with the

      human soul, and these facts show the aggressiveness of the gospel.



ENGENDERS. As soon as ever the gospel takes real possession of a soul,

that soul becomes intensely solicitous to spread it abroad. It becomes what

Jeremiah describes as a “fire in the bones.”  (Jeremiah 20:9)  Peter said,

We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard,”

(Acts 4:20)  Paul said, “The love of Christ constraineth us (II Corinthians

5:14). “Necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is me if I preach not the

gospel.” (I Corinthians 9:16)  Every genuine recipient, then, of the gospel

BECOMES A MISSIONARY,  a propagandist, a moral knight, to battle

against the mighty hosts of error and selfishness. Each member of the true

Church, or godly community, becomes, by a moral necessity, A SOLDIER




ACHIEVED. Compare the influence of the gospel in the world now to

what it was when Christ was on earth. It was then confined to one lonely

soul, the soul of Jesus of Nazareth; it is now in the possession of millions.

The springlet has become an Amazon; the grain has covered islands and

continents; the little stone has grown into a mountain that bids fair to fill

the earth.


  • CONCLUSION. Such thoughts as these tend, we think, to demonstrate

the essential aggressiveness of the true Church. It will one day take

possession of all heathendom (“And the seventh angel sounded; and

there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world

are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ, and HE SHALL

REIGN FOR EVER AND EVER!”  - Revelation 11:15), with its

mount of Esau,” the “plains of the Philistines,” the “fields of Ephraim,”

and the “fields of Samaria,” and what Canaanites there are as far as



21 “And saviors shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of

Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD’s.” The prophet sums up his

prediction: with the conquest of the Gentiles SALVATION shall come to Zion

in ALL ITS FULLNESS.   Saviours. The Septuagint incorrectly takes the word

passively, translating it ἀνασωζόμενοι – anasozomenoi - they that are saved;

so Aquila, Theodolion, and the Syriac; Symmachus rightly, σώζοντες

sozontes -  Vulgate, salvatores. The judges are so called in Judges 3:9, 15

(compare II Kings 13:5; Nehemiah 9:27). The judges had a twofold character —

they were deliverers and governors, as in the present case. Here the immediate

reference is to Zerubbabel and the valiant Maccabees, who severely punished

the Idumeans (II Maccabees 10:15, etc.; Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 13:9. 1). But all

these “saviours” are types and forerunners of THE MESSIAH, “the Saviour

which is Christ the Lord?” (Luke 2:11)  Shall come up. Not from exile, but

simply as ascending a hill, and taking their seat there. Mount Zion. The seat

of the kingdom of God, in contrast with “the mount of Esau,” the type of

the enemies of Israel and of God. To judge; Septuagint, τοῦ ἐκδικῆσαι

tou ekdikaesai -  to take vengeance on. But the “judging” is not only the taking

of vengeance on Edom and that which it represents, the expression includes

the notion of governing; so that the prophet looks forward to the time when

the heathen shall submit themselves to the dominion of the people of God,

and, as the following clause foretells, “the kingdoms of this world are become

the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ” (Revelation 11:15). The kingdom

 shall be the Lord’s. No earthly accomplishment could fulfill this great

announcement. The kingdom can be Jehovah’s; He can show Himself as Ruler

of the world, and be acknowledged as such by the nations, ONLY UNDER

CHRIST!  This is “the scepter of Judah of which Jacob spoke (Genesis 49:10);

this is the throne of David which was to be established forever (II Samuel 7:16);

this is what all the prophets foresaw, what we are still expecting, what we

daily pray for, as we say, “thy kingdom come” — when “the Lord shall be

King over all the earth, and there shall be one Lord, and his name one”

(Zechariah 14:9).



                        Empire Founded on Salvation (v. 21)


The two conceptions which are united in this verse are united, not only in

the history of Judah, but in the dispensation of Divine grace as revealed in

the gospel of Jesus Christ. Israel had many saviours; Moses was the first

and greatest; the judges followed. In the later periods of Jewish story,

Zerubbabel and Judas Maccabaeus wrought somewhat similar deliverance

for their countrymen. In fact, from first to last revelation is the history of

salvations, all pointing on to THE ONE GREAT SALVATION TO BE

WROUGHT,  not forone nation only, BUT FOR ALL MANKIND!   And as

the Hebrew deliverers established the kingdom, and brought about the reign of

righteousness and the prevalence of peace, so upon His great work of deliverance

by Christ, God has founded that kingdom which is “righeousness, peace, and joy

 in the Holy Ghost.”  (Romans 14:17)



            His earthly manifestation was as a pitying Deliverer; His heavenly session is

            as a mighty Lord. In a sense, He purchased His dominion by His sacrificial




            BE SUBJECTS. In the first instance, those who receive the gospel behold

            Christ as a Redeemer. But in saving them the Lord acquires rights over

            them; these rights they recognize, and their subjection and obedience

            become the note of their interest in HIS REDEMPTION!



            IT MAY BECOME THE SEAT OF HIS EMPIRE. From Zion Jehovah

            judged the mount of Esau. God gives to His Son the heathen for His

            inheritance. (Psalm 2:8)  Not by a physical, a military, but by a moral conquest

            Christ takes possession of our humanity. And HE IS LORD OF ALL!

            (Acts 10:36)



The subject of this book is twofold.


  • It tells of judgment upon the house of Esau, and
  • mercy upon the house of Jacob.


We have, as it were, the pillar of the Lord — a light to Israel; a black cloud to the

Egyptians. “He that believeth shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be

condemned.”  (John 3:18)  “For we are unto God a sweet savor  of Christ, in

them that are saved, and in them that perish.  To the one we are the savor of

death unto death; and to the other the savor of life unto life.”  (II Corinthians

2:15-16)  The righteous shall walk therein; the transgressors shall fall therein.

Esau, despising his birthright, barters it for a mess of pottage. Jacob, taking hold

of God’s strength, wrestles with the angel of the covenant, and is called Israel;

for as a prince he has wrestled with God, and prevailed.  (Genesis 32:28)

In the one case we see wickedness apparently mighty and dominant, building

on the heights, but brought down and made very small. In the other we have

Zion, once feeble and down trodden and despised, made triumphant and glorious

by the grace, and love, and wisdom, and power of Him who loved us, and washed

us from our sins in His own blood, and made us priests and kings unto God.

If we notice the story of Esau, we see him in Genesis despising his

birthright and hating his brother. In Numbers we see the two nations. Israel

is marching to Canaan. Esau withstands him. The King of Edom prevents

the progress. In this Edom seems the stronger. In St. Matthew’s Gospel we

note the birth of Christ and the advance of the spiritual Israel. Then we find

Herod the Edomite opposing with no little success. He commands the

destruction of all the young children in Bethlehem. A true Edomite — a red

man — a man of blood. But as we get to the close of the sacred Word we

see that the house of Esau has disappeared. Zion is all-triumphant. Within

the pearly gates all is joy, and light, and rest, and glory forevermore.

Nothing that defileth can enter.  (Revelation 21:27)  The hosts of the true Israel

are safe forever.  The great “Thus saith the Lord” by Obadiah the prophet has

received its complete fulfillment. Let us, then, be sure of this — that whatever

seeming strength falsehood and wickedness may possess, in the end TRUTH

ONLY SHALL PREVAIL; the kingdom which is “righteousness, peace, and

joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17) only shall predominate, and in a little

while it shall be known that “THE LORD OMNIPOTENT REIGNETH”

(Revelation 19:6) and “The kingdom shall be the Lord’s  (v. 21).



Saviours and Judges (v. 21)


And saviours shall come up on Mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau.”

“Saviours and judges;” “Mount Zion and the mount of Esau:” what

contrasts! And note the saviours are made the judges. The saviours on

Mount Zion are made the judges of the mount of Esau. If we follow up

these lines they bring us to the true center of full salvation and perfect

judgment. Almighty and most merciful Saviour, thou most worthy Judge

eternal, give us now of thy Holy Spirit THAT WE MIGHT PROFITABLY




THE MOUNT OF ESAU.” Temporal deliverance had often been wrought

for Israel, and still greater things would God accomplish. In Judges 2:16 we

have an early use of two words of our text. “Nevertheless the Lord raised

up judges, which saved them out of the hands of those that spoiled them.”

In Judges 3:9 we read, “When the children of Israel cried unto the

Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer [saviour] to the children of Israel, even

Othniel.” Again, in v. 15, “When the children of Israel cried unto the

Lord, the Lord raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera.” In

Nehemiah 9:27 we read, “In the time of their trouble, when they cried

unto thee, thou heardest them from heaven; and according to thy manifold

mercies thou gavest them saviours, who saved them out of the hand of

their enemies.” Here, then, we see that in temporal deliverances the

twofold office was entrusted to one individual. The judges were often

called saviours, and the saviours were often called judges. Thus we see the

primary meaning of Obadiah’s prophecy, Saviors shall come up on Mount

Zion to judge the mount of Esau.” In the deliver since wrought by such as

Judas Maccabaeus and others we see the primary fulfillment of the words.


  • In another view of the text we may remark that AS TOPICALLY



MOUNTAINS OF THIS WORLD — the mountains of human pride, the

mountains of human misery, the mountains of error, the mountains of

unbelief, all the dark mountains of sin. And every such mountain shall be

judged and brought low, even to the dust. A time is coming when the

mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established upon the tops of the

mountains.  (Isaiah 2:2; Micah 4:1)  At present great mountains of evil may

seem to overshadow Zion, but ere long they shall become a plain. Our God

can make even the worm to thresh the mountain — the least of His servants

to “leap from Bashan  (Deuteronomy 33:22), to “overcome troops,”

(Genesis 49:19) and “out of weakness” to  become strong.  (Hebrews 11:34)

“Saviours shall come up on Mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau.”


  • Another reflection is this: THE CHILDREN OF ZION ARE TO BE



Ø      Saviours. We are called to rescue the perishing. “He which converteth

the sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death”

(James 5:20). But, as saviours, we must see well to our own souls.

Paul’s words to Timothy are very weighty: “Take heed unto thyself, and

unto the doctrine: continue in them, for in doing this, thou shalt both save

thyself, and them that hear thee.”   (I Timothy 4:16)  In seeking to win souls

we must take care that our own souls are won. In caring for others’

vineyards, we must not neglect our own. This said, we return to the doctrine

that the saved are to be saviours. We once had our part with the destroyer;

now we are to be a blessing. We are to seek to save the lost. Moses calls to

Hobab; Andrew finds Peter; Philip, Nathanael; the woman of Sychar brings

her neighbors to Christ. Thus the saved are saviours. Noah calls others into

the ark. Abraham invites Lot to Canaan. Rahab brings her relations under the

shelter of the scarlet line. Joshua commands his household. Job sacrifices

and prays for his friends. Isaiah lifts up his voice for the remnant. Jeremiah

weeps and prays. Daniel fasts and makes supplication. The mothers of

Salem bring their children to Christ, that He should bless them (Matthew

19:14). Saviours ascend on Mount Zion. May we all know what it is

thus to rise — thus to ascend, and walk on God’s high places!


Ø      The children of Zion shall hereafter be judges. They shall “judge the

world.” (I Corinthians 6:2-3)  They shall “judge angels.” They shall sit

with Christ on His throne. They shall not only be manifested at the judgment

seat of Christ, but shall share in the decisions of the Lamb. For the present

they “judge not” unless it be themselves, or in the sense of testimony as

regards the evil that is in the world. Through the cross of Christ the world has

been crucified to them, and they are crucified to the world. “And this is the

judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness

rather than the light; for their works were evil.”  (John 3:19)  The Christian

has now to bear witness to this judgment, but the full and great assize is future.


  • We may now turn our thoughts to THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. He




Ø      Let us think of Him as A SAVIOUR.Behold, I stand at the door and

knock.” (Revelation 3:20)  He comes to the sinner’s heart. He knocks by

His Word, by His providence, by His Spirit. He has knocked long. The

heart, like the inn at Bethlehem, has no room for Christ, or the bolts of

ignorance and unbelief bar Him out. How long shall He be kept away?

He may have given His last knock. YOU AND I NEED A SAVIOUR!   

Shall we not welcome Him? Shall we not accept His offer? Oh, “how

shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?”  (Hebrews 2:3)


Ø      Let us think of Him as A JUDGE.   “Behold, the Judge standeth at the

      door.”  (James 5:9)   If we open not to the Saviour, we must open to the

     Judge. I have read of a man of immense wealth who built for himself a

      magnificent mansion, and then shut himself up in it. His sovereign,

      passing that way, asked for admission. He refused it. Time went on.

     A change took place. There had come a great depreciation of West Indian

     property. The proud man, who would not receive his king, saw his gates yield

     to the law officers of the crown. “Behold, the Judge standeth at the door.”

     If we welcome not the knocking Saviour, how can we meet the Judge?

     May the Holy Spirit be our Helper, that we may have boldness in the

     day of judgment, and not be ashamed at Christ’s appearing!   (I John

     4:17; 2:28)  May we say with Luther:


“Beneath the cross I view the day

When heaven and earth shall pass away,

And so prepare to meet Him”!



The Kingdom (v. 21)


“The kingdom shall be the Lord’s.” What fullness of brightest morning

glory after a long night of blackest darkness!


  • The kingdom longed for,
  • the kingdom prayed for,
  • the kingdom promised,
  • the kingdom prophesied of,


shall be THE KINGDOM  COME! The kingdom. Not many kingdoms, but one.

Now there are many, and these diverse from each other, and often at war

one with another. The Prophet Daniel spoke of this when he said, “The

Lord God shall set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed.” The

fulfillment is presented to us in Revelation 11:15, “The seventh angel

sounded; and there followed great voices in heaven, and they said, The

kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His

Christ: and He shall reign forever and ever.” “The kingdom shall be the

Lord’s.” Now the world lieth in the wicked one. The kingdom is Satan’s.

Look at its sins, its miseries, its darkness, its degradation, its ruin. The

kingdom is Satan’s. See the heathen world bowing to wood and stone, or

worshipping devils. Look at the vast millions carried away by the

Mohammedan delusion. Turn to the multitudes hardened by Jewish

infidelity. View so called Christendom, with teeming myriads rejecting the

truth. See also the millions that have not so much as the profession of any

religion, deeply involved in drugs, chained in slavery to carnal appetites.

Is not Satan the prince of this world? Is not the great enemy of

souls usurping the seat of power? Oh, then, as we think of Israel not

gathered home; as we think of Babylon drunk with the blood of saints; as

we think of the infidelity and ignorance which stalk abroad in the

professing Church and in the world; as we think of war and bloodshed

deluging the earth; as we think of nations discomfited by the frailties of

human governments; as we think of the Church torn by contentions; as we

think of Rachels weeping for their lost ones (those who wrote this are on

the money but had no concept of the millions and millions, multiplied millions,

of children aborted in the last 40 years – CY – 2015); as we think of the tears

which bedew the cheeks of orphans and widows; as we think of the sorrows in

our hospitals; as we think of the bitter poverty in our large cities; as we

think, too, of the groans of the poor brute creation; and as we think of the

sad partings, the great disappointments, the strong animosities, and the

cruel wrongs common to earth; — shall we not pray for the fulfillment of

our text? shall we not cry, “Thy kingdom come”? shall we not exclaim,

with John, “Come, Lord Jesus: come quickly”? It is a cry for the end of

toil, the end of suffering, the end of tears, the end of temptations, the end

of sin, the end of gloom, the end of darkness, the end of death. It is a loud

cry for the song of heaven to be heard, “Now is come salvation and

strength, and the kingdom of God, and the power of His Christ.”  (Revelation

12:10)  It is an earnest longing to join in the Hallelujah chorus of the great

multitude, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings,

saying,  “Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth!” “The kingdom

shall be the Lord’s.” At present, although the kingdom of nature is His, creation

groans, being burdened. (Romans 8:22)  At present the kingdom of providence

is His, but man keeps blotting the pages of history, and things are not as they ought

to be. At present the kingdom of grace is His, but His grace is often frustrated,

and the subjects of His grace live far below their privileges and high calling.

Ere long, and the three kingdoms shall be no more imperfect. They shall be

consummated in the full Christocracy — “the kingdom shall be the Lord’s.”

The kingdom of glory shall come, AND SHALL HAVE NO END!  “The

zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this!”  (Isaiah 9:7)   In closing our

study of the Book of Obadiah let us carry with us the sweet echoes of its

last words. May the Holy Spirit, in all the vicissitudes of earth, keep us in

mind that “the kingdom shall be the Lord’s”! Ere long, and He shall come

whose right it is to rein. (Ezekiel 21:27)  In the interval before the advent let us



  • LET US BE READY FOR IT. No one who is impenitent and

unbelieving can be ready. Like Ethelred, he is all unready. To be prepared

for Christ’s coming, we must be washed in His blood, justified by His

righteousness, and sanctified by the Spirit of holiness.


  • LET US BE LOOKING FOR IT. Let us say with Paul, “We wait

for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall fashion anew the body of

our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory.”

(Philippians 3:20-21)   Christ’s disciples are to be not only servants, but like

unto servants who wait for their lord.  The servant who expects his lord, has

him in mind, and is on the look out, lest, coming suddenly, his lord finds him



  • LET US BE WORKING FOR IT. The absent Saviour has given to

every man his work. Each one has something to do. Every true disciple is a

worker, called to prepare the way of the Lord — to make some crooked

path straighter, some rough place smoother, some mountain lower, some

valley higher. “The kingdom shall be the Lord’s.”


  • LET US BE LIVING FOR IT. “What manner of persons ought ye to

be in all holy conversation and godliness!  Looking for and hastening

unto the coming of the day of God! ” (II Peter 3:11-12)  For

the kingdom shall be the Lord’s.”


  • LET US BE PRAYING FOR IT. “That it may please thee shortly to

accomplish the number of thine elect, and hasten thy kingdom.”


“Come, then, and added to thy many crowns

Receive yet one, the crown of all the earth,



  • LET US BE GLAD. We ought to rejoice. We ought to lift up our

heads. Advent bells are ringing. The sound of the bells on our

High Priest’s robe may be heard as he comes forth to bless. Hallelujah!




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