Home Again

Obadiah 1:19-21

Ok to be away from home for day or two or few. Eventually get to point when really “time to go home”. Own bed, own stuff, own fill-in-the-blank just so good and right. Longer away, better it feels. Remember how patriarchs lived: Heb. 11:13These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” Beware of getting too comfortable – home isn’t really home. Only temporary residence.

Now… the Jews – whole idea of “strangers and pilgrims” been lost over the centuries. Have pinned much of their hope on piece of real estate in Middle East soaked with blood of countless people set on defending it or re-taking it in name of some cause. Bottom line reason – are unable to recognize spiritual truths in God’s word that underlie God’s promises. Do not grasp concept as Abraham and others did who “dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country” because they saw it as guarantee of “the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God”.

Try to keep that principle in mind as we bring study of Obadiah to close – big promises God made to his covenant people had both near future and distant future in view. Near future to Obadiah and his audience, distant future still ahead of us even now. Near fulfillment would be worked out in connection with land of Canaanites, distant fulfillment in process of being brought about now. Will reach completion when “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” Rev. 11:15 Will begin with central verse, then move outward to be encouraged.

A. God will preserve a remnant

“captives of this host” (20)

a particular and emphatic “this” – as if God were pointing finger and saying what would take place among specific group

not situation of “hope some of them will survive” – God had particular individuals in mind and specific future planned for them

some would escape south toward Egypt, most carried off as captives into exile – God’s purpose that exile not permanent

not accidental, God planned it that way

certainly God would use human agents in providing for their survival – think back to Rahab and spies, how God protected

neither Rahab nor circumstances prophesied by Obadiah surprise to God – divinely planned for good of those people, for instruction of later peoples (like us)

redeems a people out of ruins of Israel

by early 6th cent. BC not much left of nation of Israel – capitols of both Judah and Israel in ruins, few straggling Jews far outnumbered by Gentiles resettled in area, surrounding peoples whittled off pieces to add to own territories

Sargon took many Jews to exile in Nineveh area (600 miles away NE), province of Media E of Baghdad; Nebuchadnezzar… several deportings to Babylon 500 miles E; others escaped or deported to Egypt 200 miles Sw

God intended to preserve them distinct from other peoples, bring a remnant back to their home, establish as cohesive people

redeems a people out of ruins of mankind

God just as able to redeem his elect “out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9) in spiritual ruins and dispersed throughout world

mankind as whole no better off than Jews when dispersed among nations and powerless to reconstitute themselves as nation

many of Israel’s neighbors so assimilated into other people groups eventually impossible to distinguish – never happens with God and his chosen remnant: He can pick his elect out of any crowd

B. The remnant will possess the land v.19-20

why this list of places? – probably meaningful to Israelites of Obadiah’s day, but us? …must be more than just names on map!

a. Edom v.19a

not really a surprise Edom is first – their mistreatment of Israel going to boomerang, their territory will be handed over to Judah

Edomites will not just lose what they had taken from others, will lose own territory and… one of Israel’s perennial tormentors fully and finally overcome to trouble no more

b. Philistia v.19b

similar future awaits Philistia, another enduring thorn in side of Israel for centuries – would become land of God’s people according to his purpose… those who had escaped captivity by fleeing toward Egypt

clearly Satan and his agents will be unable to overcome people of God – matters not how persistent, brutal, powerful they are

in fact, as we saw in previous section, God will use his people as his instrument to deal with enemies, turning enemies’ evil behavior back on them

c. Ephraim and Samaria v.19c

those who had been dispossessed would return, regain possession of what had once been theirs – loss only temporary according to divine design

not a situation of regrouping in different place or on smaller scale – would be both restoration and enlargement of remnant beyond original size and strength

d. Gilead v.19d

God’s promised blessings not based on size or strength – Benjamin youngest son of Israel, smallest tribe and land inheritance

not only recovering original allotment, taking possession of significant territory “across the river” – areas once under enemy control added to domain of God’s people

no indication given about how all this will take place… whether military operations or not – seems to go without saying, God will make it happen… language indicates foregone conclusion, it shall be done

e. Canaan as far as Zarephath v. 20a

finally, area intended for God’s people to occupy will be free from hostile Canaanites, will be place of refuge for those who come

includes Zarephath where Elijah found food and shelter during time of famine – where God demonstrated in unmistakeable way his never-ending provision for needs of his children

f. the Negev v.20b

great distance no obstacle to God working out his purpose – Sepharad’s exact location uncertain, but thought to be north or east of Assyria, hundreds of miles away

God able to gather his people together from four corners of earth, resettle them wherever he chooses, here the South, Negev, desert area south of Israel to northern end of Gulf of Aqaba

iow, they will have more than they had

when God restores his people as a people in own land, is to better conditions than when they were taken captive

after restoration will no longer suffer from harassment of evil neighbors and enemies – Edomites, Canaanites, Philistines

boundaries will be enlarged from what they had been – encroachment by warring neighbors will be pushed back

C. God will establish His kingdom v.21

all takes place under umbrella of Christ’s kingdom – all of OT a period of preparation for coming of Christ, his church / kindgom

redeems the remnant so he can rule them

God never has in past, never will in future redeem people out of exile so they can continue doing their own thing their own way

principle applies whether out of slavery in Egypt, exile in Babylon/other territories, or bondage in sin – redeemed to serve God

unlike way it works too often in human situations (debt bondage, sex trafficking, etc) God does not deliver his people from one slave master to turn over to another – delivers them from slave master so he will be their master

service covers spectrum of life – are to serve God in worship, in day-to-day life under authority of King, no other gods, no other ultimate authority in any part of life

of course, are other authorities in our lives, but they are lesser authorities than God and, like us, subject to him

Isa. 42:8I am the LORD, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another, Nor My praise to carved images.”

won’t be a “here we go again”

repeated theme of Judges — “The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight. They forgot the Lord their God and worshiped idols. The Lord was furious with Israel and turned them over to a neighboring king/nation. When the Israelites cried out for help to the Lord, he raised up a deliverer.”

once Israel came out of Babylonian exile, never again worshiped foreign / false gods; have their issues, but that kind of false worship not one of them

once God redeems one of his people out of bondage in sin, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,” (Col. 1:13)

a one-way street / transaction when person is truly converted – true child of God will never be disowned, will never seek emancipation from Heavenly Father

just as Israel prevails over enemies, so church will also

Israel had ups and downs throughout 1500 years of national existence, both individually and nationally – following God closely at times, other times wandering away

church has had similar experience over last 2000 years – times when she really stood for the truth, other times when light of truth pretty hard to detect

applies at all levels of the church – church in the world, individual local churches, individuals in local churches

church has many enemies in the world, all serving as willing instruments of Satan who does his utmost to enlarge his territory

can be certain that just as God enabled Israel to prevail over enemies, he will enable church to not only survive, also to daily take territory away from Satan

will be the people of God alone who hear “well done”, who inherit eternal life and a completely renewed earth to live on, when church militant becomes the church triumphant

when Lord Jesus “hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when he has brought to an end all rule and all authority and power …and has put all his enemies under his feet.” (1 Cor. 15:24-25)

Meanwhile, not there yet, still here – work to do, life to live, need to be Jesus’ hands and feet bringing Gospel truth to neighbors.

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