Men and women may indeed struggle to come to terms with this
The Fact is! you and I cannot pray Marantha
“O Lord come,” we cannot long for and pray for the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, without in effect praying for the judgment of our enemies, the unbelieving nations, because that is what the Lord Christ will bring to pass when he returns.
There is a good reason J.R.R. Tolkien referred to the Second Coming as the eucatastrophe, the good catastrophe. (Eu is the Greek word for good. “eu-aggellion, “the good news.” So eucatastrophe, “the good catastrophe.”)
What will be wonderful beyond words for the people of God will be calamity beyond words for those who have rejected God, for the Edomites of this world.
Now this troubles people, even devout Christian people can find themselves troubled. How can the destruction of others be an encouragement to us? How can we hope to see others brought low and made miserable?
How can it be right for us who are sinners ourselves and who have experienced the love of God and his mercy to find satisfaction in the judgment that God visits on other sinners, no more unworthy than ourselves?
These questions are so fundamental to our Christian faith and hope that we must be able to provide clear and convincing answers both for ourselves and for others and Obadiah can help us here.
First, difficult as it may be to contemplate the judgment of the nations, it is so much better than the alternative!
The fact is we see this judgment everywhere we look in human history and human life and, by and large, we are glad to see it. How terrible a place would this world be, if sin were never punished and pride never brought low? Sin pays a wage.
That is not only the teaching of the Bible; it is a fact of life. Every sin does not always pay a wage in this life; the Scripture is candid about that; but it assures us that it eventually will and the fact that it so often does in human life lends tremendous credibility to that claim that of every sin will eventually pay its entire wage.
In God’s world people always answer to some extent for their sins and often answer to a great extent for the lives they lead and the choices they make. It is hardly a stretch to believe that eventually they will have to answer for everything.
No one wants it to be otherwise except in his or her own case or that of our loved ones! Israel wanted Edom punished because of what Edom had done to her, just as human beings from time immemorial have wanted those who have done evil to pay for their crimes.
We accept that it is only justice for crimes to be punished. But if we ourselves want judgment for the crimes committed against us, how can we deny that judgment to a holy and just God? How can we criticize the Almighty for doing what we confess every day is good, right, and necessary?
Where else do we get this penchant for judgment and this thirst for justice that animates every human soul but from the God who made us in his image? All sins, after all, are first and foremost committed against God; no wonder that he should punish such sins.
This is what we find in Obadiah: Israel’s sense of moral outrage and the Lord’s determination to punish mixed together. The instinct for justice is God given but only God can guarantee true justice in the end.
Obadiah is typical among the prophets in giving expression to both the human impulse for justice and the divine initiative in bringing it to pass.
• Second, because it is the Lord who is doing this and not men we can be assured that the judgment will be just, exact, and absolutely fair.
Obadiah makes a point of the fact that Edom faces devastation precisely because of the crimes she had committed. There is nothing low or unworthy in the calculation of Edom’s ill-desert and the Lord’s execution of his justice. Edom’s crimes are enumerated in vv. 10-14, the general principle — a principle we all recognize — clearly stated in v. 15 is: “As you have done, it shall be done to you”.
Obadiah happens to be directed to Edom and her sins, but in this respect Edom is a metonymy for all those who rebel against God and who live their lives in disobedience to his laws and in rebellion against his rule and in so doing have made life difficult for God’s people.
The Bible teaches us to treat these OT oracles of judgment this way when in the New Testament, in the Book of Revelation, Babylon — against whom many such oracles were preached by the prophets – becomes a title for the whole world, insofar as it is in rebellion against God and an enemy of the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
The kingdom of man or that of the Devil could just as well have been called Edom, but Edom was too small and inconsequential.
Babylon was far greater and had played a much more destructive role in the history of the people of God. So “Babylon” came to be a name for the entire world insofar as it is in rebellion against God.
In other words, this same judgment described by Obadiah will befall all peoples and nations in due time and for the same reasons. They have rebelled against God; their sins have separated them from him; and in their defiance they have done great evil.
Men and women may indeed struggle to come to terms with this, we understand that no one likes to think of punishment, but it is the uncompromising teaching of the Word of God:
God will judge his enemies who are also the enemies of his people and his judgment of them will be scrupulously exact. They will suffer for what they have done and for what they have failed to do, and only for that.
By Pastor Eileen Miller