Unsurprisingly, God fulfilled his terrible promise to Edom. They were ultimately destroyed, most probably by the Babylonian king Nabonidus around 552 BC. But the implications of Obadiah’s message outlive Edom, because Edom’s fate also represents the ultimate fate of all those who set themselves against God and his people. Obadiah hints at this in verses 15 and 16, where he associates what will happen to Edom with what will happen to “all nations.” To whom does this term “all nations” refer? The bad news, the “anti-gospel,” is that it refers to every human being!
The uncomfortable truth is that we are all guilty of the sins of Edom. We all have prideful hearts (verse 3). We all trust in people (verse 7) or things (verse 6) rather than God. We all like to think of ourselves as morally superior to those who are experiencing hardship of one sort or another (verse 12). We all can be arrogant and inhumane. We all deserve God’s righteous vengeance. And every human being will, in fact, experience that divine vengeance. This will happen in only one of two possible ways. Either we will continue to oppose God and his people and experience God’s vengeance directly. Or—and here is the good news—we can put our faith in Jesus as our representative. Jesus is the only human being who doesn’t deserve God’s wrath but who nevertheless experienced every bit of it on our behalf. When we put our faith in Jesus, the divine vengeance he experienced on the cross is credited as our experience as well. This is powerfully welcome good news!
There is indeed gospel in Obadiah, but it might not be where we first look for it. At first glance, the book of Obadiah looks like nothing but bad news. But we can find the good news hidden behind our condemnation of Edom’s opposition to God and his people. Only when we are able to see that our condemnation of Edom’s attitude and actions is, in fact, also a condemnation of ourselves do we begin to look for the lifeline of good news that God is holding out to us. That lifeline, Obadiah tells us, is on Mount Zion (verse 17). In other words, our deliverance must come from God himself. And God has indeed provided that deliverance by sending his own Son to accomplish the task. Jesus took upon himself that divine condemnation of sin and all its horrible consequences, deserved by both Edom and all of us, so that everyone who trusts in him will never have to experience that condemnation firsthand.
Did you enjoy this reading plan? If so, learn more about the book here