Study of the Prophets #12 Obadiah (Cont.)
This is the last teaching from the prophecies of Obadiah. Tonight we begin at verse 17-18 where Israel is now included in the prophecies. Until now, Obadiah has been speaking to Edom and perhaps the United States in a similar context, as G-d sees the beginning from the end for the entire universe.
“On Mount Zion there will be refuge, and it will be holy; and the house of Jacob will inherit those who had dispossessed them. The house of Jacob will be fire. The house of Joseph a flame, and the House of Esau for straw; and they will ignite them and devour them. There will be no survivor to the House of Esau, for HaShem has spoken.”
Where the nation of Edom will be obliterated, the Children of Israel will find refuge on the Mountain of Zion. Radak interprets this verse as although many of the Jewish people will perish in exile, a large remnant will survive and return to Mount Zion. I submit that by definition, the remnant will not be large. Perhaps many Jews will perish in exile; we cannot validate the extent of the future Jewish exile and exactly who will be involved. Whatever the events, there will be a point of refuge on Mount Zion for a remnant of G-d’s People; true believers.
Mount Zion will be sanctified, holy. The sages states that no one who is uncircumcised will be allowed to go on it. However, as Messianic Jews we know that YHVH/Yahshua defines a true Jew as one who is circumcised of the heart. That is, biological Jews are still held to the Abrahamic covenant that requires physical circumcision, but those who are reconciled to G-d through Yahshua’s sacrifice who may be Gentiles or fellow travelers, will also be counted as holy and will be permitted on Mount Zion.
The Children of Jacob shall inherit the Land that was promised them and they shall dwell in the lands of Edom, Moab, and Philistia (Radak; cf. Targum).
The House of Jacob shall be powerful as fire, and Joseph, a flame. The House of Esau will be like straw and will be destroyed by the fire of G-d’s judgment. It is interesting that the House of Jacob is described as a fire and Joseph as a flame. Recall that Jacob was the patriarch of the 12 Tribes and Joseph. Isaac’s blessing to Jacob was “may G-d give you dew from heaven, the richness of the earth, and grain and wine in abundance. May people serve you and nations bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you.”
We can see the fulfillment in Obadiah’s prophecy for Jacob, noting the use of the name previously noting his status as a supplanter. Edom, whose descendants are from Esau will receive the judgment of G-d for all they have done and will yet do to G-d’s People.
The House of Joseph is described as a flame; less than a fire, but still stronger than straw and able to destroy it. Let’s look at Joseph. The blessing of Jacob on Joseph was:
“Yosef is a fruitful plant, a fruitful plant by a spring, with branches climbing over the wall. The archers attacked him fiercely, shooting at him and pressing him hard; but his bow remained taut; and his arms were made nimble by the hands of the Mighty One of Ya’akov, from there, from the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel, by the G-d of your father, who will help you, by El Shaddai, who will bless you with blessings from heaven above, blessings from the deep lying below, blessings from the breast and the womb. The blessings of your father are more powerful than the blessings of my parents, extending to the furthest of the everlasting hills; and they will be on the head of Yosef, on the brow of the prince among his brothers.”
The theme for verses 17 and 18 is found in Malachi 1:2-3
“I have loved you,” says the LORD. “Yet you say, ‘In what way have You loved us?’ Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? ” says the LORD. “Yet Jacob I have loved; but Esau I have hated, and laid waste his mountains and his heritage for the jackals of the wilderness.”
God’s choice is final. He made His sovereign choice of Jacob over Esau before they were born. G-d chose Jacob and that was final. I maintain that G-d, knowing the end from the beginning, knew how these boys would turn out by their free-will choices. Jacob could have refused his mother’s promptings, but chose to obey.
Verse 17 introduces an interesting distinction: “On Mount Zion [is] deliverance,” but the end of verse 18 says, “No survivor shall remain of the house of Esau.” The destinies of these two peoples are total opposites. Whereas G-d loves Jacob and allows a remnant to survive into the Millennium, no one survives of Esau. Perhaps there will be some Edomites who will choose to follow the G-d of Israel, but there is no doubt, those who remain a part of Edom either physically or spiritually, will be annihilated.
Verse 18 tells us, “The house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame.” The house of Jacob” may refer particularly to Judah, and “the house of Joseph” would then refer to the rest of the nations of Israel, led by the Joseph tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh. In any case, it indicates the entirety of Israel. Zechariah 12:6 contains similar language, in which the governors of Judah will be “like a firepan in the woodpile” and “shall devour all the surrounding peoples.” Edom will be one of these devoured nations.
Verse 19 reads: “And [those of] the southland will inherit the Mountain of Esau; and [those of] the lowlands [will inherit] the Philistines, and they will inherit the fields of Ephraim and the fields of Samaria; and Benjamin [will inherit] Gilead.
This verse describes the expansion of the Land of Israel. Those living in the southern part of the Land will inherit the Mountain of Esau that is near their borders while those in the lowlands will inherit the neighboring lands of the Philistines along with Mt. Ephraim and Mt. Samaria. The topography of the inherited lands will make it much easier to cultivate crops without worrying about using the hills and highlands for defensive purposes. The Children of Benjamin will inherit the land of Gilead on the other side of the Jordan River. The children of Manasseh, whose land will be taken over by the expanding tribe of Benjamin, will themselves expand their territories eastward, enlarging the original eastern borders of Eretz Israel.
Verse 20: “The exiled host of the Children of Israel who are among the Canaanites until Zarephath, and the exile of Jerusalem which is in Sepharad (the city state of Sardis in Asia Minor) will inherit the cities of the South.”
The exiled nation of the Northern Kingdom; that is the 10 Tribes of Israel who wandered to the lands of the Canaanite nations and onward until France- as well as the children of the kingdom of Judah who were exiled to Spain-shall inherit the cities in the southern portion of Eretz Israel (Rashi). An alternate explanation is that the exiles of the Northern Kingdom of the Ten Tribes will be those who inherit the lands cited in the previous verse; those who were expelled from the southern kingdom of Judah (the exiles of Jerusalem) will recapture the cities in the province of Judah to the south (Radak). So, who are among the Canaanites until Zarephath? Radak offers this opinion; When the Jews first conquered the Holy Land, many of the Canaanites fled and migrated to Germany and France. So, when the Jews dispersed across Europe after they were exiled by the Romans, many found their way to these lands, which were already inhabited by descendants of the Canaanites. (Ibn Ezra; Radak). Israel’s exiles will be regathered and returned to the Land; baruch HaShem!
Last but not least, we read in verse 21: “And saviors will ascend Mount Zion to judge the Mountain of Esau, and the kingdom will be HaShem’s.”
Saviors will ascend to Mount Zion and exact retribution from the descendants of Edom for their oppression of G-d’s people (Targum; Rashi). According to Radak taken from Micah 5:4, this refers to the Messiah and the seven shepherds and eight princes who will accompany Him. The Sages describe the seven shepherds as: David in the middle; Seth, Chanoch, and Methuselah on his right; and Abraham, Jacob, and Moshe on his left. The eight princes are Jesse, Saul, Samuel, Amos, Zephaniah, Hezekiah, Elijah, and the Messiah (Succah 52b). Abarbanel disputes this interpretation, instead interpreting the saviors as legions of the non-Jewish nations who will gather together and conquer Edom, as described in verse 1. Thus Obadiah is describing how the annihilation will be carried out.
“ … and the kingdom will be HaShem’s.” At that time, HaShem alone will exercise dominion over the entire world, for all of mankind will recognize Him as King of Kings and L-rd of L-rds. He will rule His kingdom with an iron hand. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty (Rev. 19:15).
There will be great battles and large armies converging on Israel until Yahshua returns to establish His Millennial Kingdom. Then, all the land promised to Israel will be taken from enemy nations, given back to G-d’s people, and the exiles will be regathered whereby all the tribes will be reunited into one stick with one King; Yahshua HaMashiach, Melech ha’olam.
Rabbi Tamah Davis