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Nov. 10, 2006The little book of Obadiah is the shortest book in the Old Testament, and it is all about God's judgment on Edom. This is not the most interesting book in the Bible by any means. I'm not going to say that I gave it as thorough a reading as I probably should have, but here goes my take.
Edom, in case you don't know, is the family of Esau, the brother of Jacob. Esau, as the elder brother, by only a few minutes, was entitled to the spiritual blessings of his father Isaac. But Jacob bought his birthright for a bowl of soup, and then later stole Isaac's blessing from Esau. Now all of this was part of God's plan, of course. Now is not the time for the "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” thing- hopefully that will come later.
Anyway, ever since, the nation of Edom had been living in the shadow of the Jews. Even though they were hostile when they came back into the promised land from Egypt, God told them not to bother the Edomites, because they were Israel's brothers. For centuries, the Edomites lived alongside the Jews, never liking them but unwilling or unable to actually fight them.
Obadiah's basic message is that Edom rejoiced when the Jews were defeated, and for that, God is going to punish them. They never realized God's blessing and in some ways his protection. They stayed around for hundreds of years and maintained their society, primarily because they were the descendants of Isaac. But instead, they celebrated when Jerusalem was destroyed. I don't pretend to understand God's plan: why He holds people who don't know Him- at least in our minds- responsible for not obeying Him. I know that God says that man is reponsible simply because of His goodness and His creation, and that's all He has told us, so we have to leave it at that.