STUDIES IN OBADIAH
THE INTENSITY OF JUDGEMENT
By Henry Jaegers
If thieves came to thee, if robbers by night, (how art thou cut off!) would they not have stolen till they had enough? if the grape-gatherers came to thee, would they not leave some grapes? How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up! (Obadiah 1: 5,6)
As we contemplate the severity of these words spoken by God, through Obadiah, we must consider the seriousness of this matter that we refer to as ‘judgment’. It is so serious a matter, that those of us who name the name of Christ, should tremble within before we ever pronounce such judgments upon others.
In describing the judgment that lay before them, God illustrates how a thief would only steal until he is satisfied or the grape-gatherer who would gather only enough to meet their needs and leave something behind. But that is not what is determined toward Edom. The wickedness that is present in them is bad enough to invoke the harshest judgment from God. It is important that we be reminded, that God, because of who he is, has more than judgment as part of his attributes. He is still a loving and merciful God, but the actions of Edom have provoked this serious judgment that is to befall them.
As we will do presently, we will reveal that these judgments, so severe, have not been impacted presently. Although their deeds are above measure compared to others, the judgments of God are still mixed with mercy. As we follow throughout the prophets of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Amos, we see that judgement has not yet been exercised to its full intent. It is still seen yet as forth-coming. A partial destruction has taken place during the reign of Jehoshaphat, but according to these other prophecies, they have not been fulfilled up to those times.
Matthew Henry, that great commentator, mentions the fact that the full end came during the reign of Judas Maccabees long after the reign of Alexander the Great.
We see today, the destruction that has taken place when we view the land of Petra, a barren and desolate place, (the place where the “Dead Sea Scrolls” were found), and only a few nomadic tribes lived in that place.
As we close this portion, we are reminded of the words spoken by Paul the apostle to the church at Galatia. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap". The point that we wish to emphasize is that God's judgments are always meteres out in measure according to the present state of wickedness. It is not a matter of God being more merciful or more just. It is a matter of men's choice that calls forth the severity of God according to their own deeds. But with God, his purpose is never for destruction: destruction comes when we fail to respond to his mercy.
Although our God is truly "a consuming fire", his hand of mercy is still outstretched toward those who would reach out and claim it.