April 6, 2020

The Great Reversal in Obadiah

Jamaica’s National Heroes

This week the people of Jamaica will hopefully pause long enough to celebrate the pain of struggle, the inner fire of justice and the exhilaration of liberation which the freedom fighters experienced.  National heroes day invites us to reflect on the stain of human evil and the ways in which an essential part of what gives meaning and sense to an otherwise chaotic, random and pointless existence is that there remains reserved a time of reversal, a turning on its head, a final moment of triumph where evil does not have the last word.

As we listen to the second and closing half of Obadiah’s oracle let the theme of victory, the theme of vindication, the theme of hope, the great reversal ring out at verses 15 – 21 of the book.   He opens at 15 “The day of the Lord is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you;     your deeds will return upon your own head. 16 and closes at  21 Deliverers will go up on[c] Mount Zion to govern the mountains of Esau. And the kingdom will be the Lord’s.  

 Among those who find themselves languishing in living conditions that are far from optimum there is a high level of difficulty accepting the omniscience and fairness of God in the face of the proliferation of evil.  It is quite possible that there are those who even lose their faith altogether because they became convinced that there is no way God could love them and allow such pain and hurt.

Five decades after independence the need for heroes is no less than during the years of struggle for nationhood.  The freedoms that our forefathers lived to fight for and sided defending are not equally enjoyed.  Pre teen and teen age girls continue to be requested by the ‘community leader’.  Pre-teen boys are being lured into guns and drug mules.   Within the space of the economic downward spiral human trafficking becomes appealing and an underground trade.  There is a large section of the population whose lived experience mirrors that of Israel at the hands of the Edomites.  These are the ones who become the victims as others use them as mere tools in the pursuit of fame and fortune.  They are the victims of passive, possessive and predatory evil.

It is within that reality that the victorious intervention of the judge of the universe invites us to share in the vanquishing of the forces of evil so that our people can enjoy the possession and occupation that was promised to Israel when the true King of the world settles score with Edom.  As we anticipate the ultimate triumph of good over evil we have a heavy responsibility to work towards the creation of a space where the tranquility and serenity and security of Zion begins to be approximated here and now.

The poetic expression of the promises of God toward his people in the closing of Obadiah’s oracle can easily be set to music.  It is the kind of message that easily qualifies as a redemption song.  In the same way that the Scripture does not spare us the details of the smear of evil it equally paints a tapestry of the vanquishing of evil.  The final nail is driven into the coffin of the fate of Edom as Obadiah completes setting out the case against the with the glorious last words “And the kingdom will be the Lord’s.”

Obadiah makes it abundantly clear that God himself is behind this overthrow.  God himself is the ultimate deliverer.  Those who bask in the dishing out of passive, possessive or predatory evil against those who are least able to defend themselves will eventually discover that had chosen to the wrong fight. This is what the young zealous Pharisee, Saul discovered on the road to Damascus, that he had been fighting against Jesus Christ Himself.   The overthrow of the oppressor at the height of his proud self exaltation is quite alike that which Mary prophesied in the magnificat of Luke 1.  The Spirit of God allowed her to sing prophetically that her son would reverse the fortunes of the oppressed and the oppressor.

There is a striking parallel between both the actions and fate of the Edomites and that of mystery Babylon in Revelation 18: 5 – 8 for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes. Give back to her as she has given; pay her back double for what she has done.   Pour her a double portion from her own cup.Give her as much torment and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself. In her heart she boasts, ‘I sit enthroned as queen. I am not a widow;[c] I will never mourn.’Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her:  death, mourning and famine. She will be consumed by fire,

for mighty is the Lord God who judges her. 

 The same pride of heart, the same disregard for human life, the same power and material grabbing, the same delusion of self sufficiency and self importance. We must take warning to be on guard against Edomite spirit which is synonymous to the Babylonian spirit.  The characterization of Babylon’s notoriety shows us clearly the chains from which we need emancipation.  Rev. 18: 11 – 13 11 “The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore— 12 cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; 13 cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and human beings sold as slaves.

  That which Obadiah condemns in the life of the Edomites is that which Babylon represents.  A proud self sufficiency that grabs after this world’s goods and fineries while devaluing the sanctity of human life.  It is that which we are in danger of becoming. It is that which the heroes of our Nation fought not for posterity’s sake but because of a deep conviction that fighting that spirit is the thing to be done. Let us join that fight.  As Christ lived to make men holy let us live to make the free. The Kingdom will be the Lord’s.


2 thoughts on “The Great Reversal in Obadiah

  1. Amen! As in Ezekiel 36:25-28 is a prophecy of the New Covenant with its better promises. Peace on earth and God’s showers of blessings will only come about when there is a radical change in human nature. Man’s “heart of stone”—his hardened, stubborn nature—must first be replaced with a pliant “heart of flesh” (verse 26).
    May God cause that renewal of spirit in our hearts now and forever in Jesus name. Amen

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