Obadiah, Micah

The Bible is so common, many people own multiple copies of it. That’s not to say they are reading it, though. Even among Christians it’s not unusual to find several copies of different translations in the house. However, do we know what’s in it beyond the Gospels and the famous Bible stories, like Noah and the ark and the Exodus? The fact is, the Bible is full of “hidden gems” that go undiscovered. Obadiah is one such gem. Probably most of you have never read it. It is the shortest of the minor prophets, so a lot of us overlook it.

“Obadiah” was a very common name during Old Testament days and, like other minor prophets, we know almost nothing about him.

1. Consequences of withholding mercy, verses 10—15

a. Judgment day for Edom, vs. 10, 11

Obadiah’s ministry was a little different from other prophets; they mention the names of kings or priests who were working when that particular prophet was active. But Obadiah mentions no one, which has led Bible scholars to conclude that Obadiah was prophesying after Judah had fallen to the Babylonians.

Jerusalem and Judah lay in ruins and Obadiah’s message was directed at the Edomites.

Because of the violence against your brother Jacob, you will be covered with shame; you will be destroyed forever. On the day you stood aloof while strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them.

Even though it sounds like the prophet is speaking to the Edomites personally, he probably was not; in fact, Obadiah probably never travelled to Edom. The prophet gave his messages against Edom for the benefit of God’s people; his messages were really addressed to the remaining Judahites.

“Jacob” is called Edom’s brother by Obadiah. The Edomites forgot that they and the Judahites shared common ancestry: Abraham. Because they woefully mistreated Judah, Edom was about to fall victim to God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3—

I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

During the Babylonian invasion, Edom should have come to the aid of Judah, but they did not. After the Babylonian invasion, Edom should have helped those who were left behind, but they did not. Not only did Edom stand idly by and not help, they willingly aided in the deportation of their brothers. This kind of conspiracy against a “brother” did not go unnoticed by God. Edom had behaved cold-heartedly in their betrayal of Judah.

b. Edom, scavenger of Israel, vs. 12—15

The Edomites were definitely guilty of “sins of omission,” for they stood by while the Judahites were carted off by the Babylonians. Despite the many ties and treaties Edom had with Judah, they, along with other nations, failed to help them when the Judahites needed them the most. But they were guilty of other sins, too.

You should not gloat over your brother in the day of his misfortune, nor rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their destruction, nor boast so much in the day of their trouble. (verse 12)

The prophet’s second issue with the Edomites was their attitude toward Judah and their predicament. They actually gloated and rejoiced over the misfortune of their brothers.

You should not march through the gates of my people in the day of their disaster, nor gloat over them in their calamity in the day of their disaster, nor seize their wealth in the day of their disaster. (verse 13)

Sitting on the sidelines was bad enough, but the Edomites actually helped in the downfall of Jerusalem by looting it.

You should not wait at the crossroads to cut down their fugitives, nor hand over their survivors in the day of their trouble. (verse 14)

As if all that wasn’t bad enough, as the citizens of Judah fled the Babylonian hordes, the Edomites captured them and handed them over to the Babylonian army.

This prophet closes this part of his word with a reference to the “day of the Lord”:

The day of the LORD is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head. (verse 15)

Whenever a prophet, minor or major, starts talking about the “day of the Lord,” we know that he is now not only referring to the future of God’s people, Israel, but to the future of other nations as well. Very often, the prophet saw the immediate future of Israel mixed in with the far future of the nations of the world. And the “day of the Lord,” as all God’s people knew, would be a day that bring terrible darkness and judgment upon the world, but it would be day of light and salvation and joy for all God’s people.

Edom’s destruction would be real and complete—there is not a single Edomite alive today. But it would also trigger an escahtological event that would show the nations of the world how an unruly world would, one day, be restored to order.

The “Day of the Lord” was very near for the Edomites. It is near for us. What is the big lesson from the little letter: No human being, but especially believers, are to rationalize selfish conduct, assuming it can be justified before God and man because of circumstances. As far as God is concerned, nothing is ever “politically expedient.”

2. God hates oppression, Micah 2:1—5

Micah was in good company when he was actively proclaiming the Word of the Lord. He was working right alongside the likes of Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, and Jonah. Even though Micah’s words aren’t as famous and quotable as some other prophets, at least to us, they must have made an impression. No less than a great prophet like Jeremiah was still quoting what Micah had written a century later (see Jeremiah 26:18, 19).

“Micah” means “Who is like the Lord,” and is a version of the more common “Michael” and “Michelle.” He came from an obscure village in Judah, Moresheth-gath, about 20 miles southwest of Jerusalem, near the Philistine city of Gath. He ministered during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and the great Hezekiah. He did minister for a while to the northern kingdom’s capital, Samaria, before it fell to the Assyrians in 722 BC.

The people of Micah’s day were an incredibly religious bunch; religious, but not at all godly. While they would never miss a service at the Temple, it never occurred to them that they were obliged to practice their religion outside the Temple! Add to that the fact that the unprecedented peace, prosperity, and military conquests were coming to an end. The deaths of Jeroboam in the North and the Uzziah in the South and the rise of Tiglath-pileser III of Arryria spelled the end of both kingdoms, even though they didn’t know it yet.

But Micah, in spite of the declines of Israel and Judah and the prevailing ungodliness of the people, never despaired. Micah knew that the last word would not be spoken by the cruel oppressors of the people or by the cold, heartless kings and governing authorities that didn’t care for the citizens. He knew that God would have the last word.

a. Woe to the oppressors, vs. 1, 2

Chapter two begins with the word “woe,” and as we know, nothing good follows that word! This chapter continues God’s judgment against His rebellious people. Injustice was rampant in Judah. People took advantage other people, and they seemingly never stopped planning new and inventive ways to do that.

Woe to those who plan iniquity, to those who plot evil on their beds! At morning’s light they carry it out because it is in their power to do it. (verse 1)

b. God will oppress the oppressors, vs. 3—5

I am planning disaster against this people, from which you cannot save yourselves.” (verse 3a)

As far as Judah was concerned, the time for self-satisfaction was over and the time of disaster was about to begin. The law of reciprocity—reaping and sowing—is universal, and none can avoid it. Just as Obadiah had said, so the Lord said through Micah. Those who mistreated their brothers and sisters would not go unpunished. God hates all oppression. Human beings—all human beings—are created in God’s image and all human beings have rights given them by their Creator. Every human being, even those yet unsaved, are precious to Him and no one should ever take advantage of them in any way.

Therefore you will have no one in the assembly of the LORD to divide the land by lot. (verse 5)

To the powerful, to the rich and to the bully, this word was given. Our Lord taught in His famous Sermon on the Mount, that only the meek would inherit the earth. In that great future “assembly of the Lord,” the general land reforms of the Sabbatical and Jubilee years would finally find its consummation. When that happens, the “poor in spirit” will get their due:

LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. (Psalm 15:5, 6)

3. God delights in mercy, 7:14—20

After giving God’s message to His people, the prophet looked in vain for some sign of repentance in Judah.

What misery is mine! I am like one who gathers summer fruit at the gleaning of the vineyard; there is no cluster of grapes to eat, none of the early figs that I crave. (verse 1)

What terrible misery and grief was Micah’s as he not only found his message falling on deaf ears, but as he saw what was ahead for the people who refused to listen.

But all was not lost.

a. God will restore Israel, 7:14, 15

But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light. (verses 7, 8)

Micah remained faithful; he remained optimistic. The immediate future looked bleak indeed, so the prophet looked to the past for his hope for the future:

Shepherd your people with your staff, the flock of your inheritance, which lives by itself in a forest, in fertile pasturelands. Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead as in days long ago. “As in the days when you came out of Egypt, I will show them my wonders.” (verses 14, 15)

The prophet knew Israel would be restored some time in the future and he anticipated God’s manifested power at that time, just like in days gone by. Verse 15, in which God is speaking, confirms the fact that though it may appear otherwise, God was most definitely not finished with His people.

b. The oppressors would be eliminated, 7:16, 17

More reaping and sowing; only this time it would the nations that oppressed God’s people.

c. Never stop trusting in God, 7:18—20

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. You will be faithful to Jacob, and show love to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our ancestors in days long ago.

“Who is like God?” This is an oft-asked question in Scripture. It’s almost always asked in light of divine power and glory, with a sense of awe. But Micah asks the question for another reason. He’s not standing in awe of God’s power, but in awe of His great mercy.

Micah’s word is timeless; for every generation to hear it. It speaks of the essence of salvation, past, present and future. And it promises a hope for all mankind:

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (5:2)

(c)  2011 WitzEnd
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