Today’s Bible Reading: Obadiah 1:1-21; Revelation 4:1-11; Psalm 132:1-18; Proverbs 29:24-25
Today we read the one-chapter book of Obadiah in which the prophet reveals plans for God’s destruction of Edom and His plan for restoration of Israel.
The Edomites were prideful and this caused them to believe false information (Obadiah 3). Notice that pride blinds us to the truth. When we think we more of ourselves than we ought to we are deceived and are susceptible to ignore warning signs of our own doom. But we can never be too secure that God can’t (or won’t) humble us (Obadiah 3-9). As we read yesterday in Proverbs, pride eventually ends in humiliation. But humility eventually ends in honor.
The reason God was going to humble Edom was their treatment of their blood-relatives, Israel (Obadiah 10). The nation of Edom descended from Esau, the brother of Jacob through whom the Jewish people were born. Edom, therefore, should have been supportive of Israel. But this is not what they did. They stood by while Israel’s enemies attacked and even worse, they gloated over Israel’s downfall (Obadiah 11-12).
We know from the story of Jacob and Esau that there was a major sibling rivalry between them and they were never really very close. But God calls upon us to love our enemies. Even though there are many people to reject the Bible and hate Christians, we should not have reciprocal feelings. We should go out of our way to love everyone. Love does not mean doing whatever someone wants us to do – we should not break any of God’s laws. But we should show compassion and understanding to everyone, including those we don’t like and those who don’t like us.
God promised Abraham that He would bless those who bless him and his descendants (Israel) and He would curse those who curse him and his descendants. Therefore, God had no choice but to destroy Edom for the way they treated Israel (Obadiah 15-16). Israel, on the other hand would become a holy place filled once again with God’s people (Obadiah 17-21). Clearly this prophecy has come true. There is no more Edom on any map – and there hasn’t been for centuries. But today Israel is a thriving nation just as God said it would be.
After dictating seven letters to seven churches in Asia Minor in the first three chapters of Revelation, Jesus then calls John up to heaven (Revelation 4:1-2) to tell him what will happen in the future. Some believe that what we will read over the next fifteen chapters is purely symbolic or refers to events that have already happened. I prefer to view these prophecies as future events that will occur literally. I think that is the best interpretation considering that all other prophecies given in the Bible have come true literally (e.g. Israel becoming a real country again, Jesus being nailed to a cross, Jerusalem being destroyed, etc). Its unlikely that God would suddenly switch from real, tangible fulfillment to symbolic fulfillment.
Notice that John saw an occupied throne in heaven (Revelation 4:2-3). The entire concept of atheism is to deny that there is any authority in our lives. But man has an internal need for leadership. When we reject God as our true authority we have to fill that leadership void with something else such as ourselves or government. Although many claim to, no one actually categorically rejects the idea of absolute truth. They only reject where that absolute truth comes from.
Notice too that John is unable to describe the one on the throne using a physical description. Instead he describes the glory of the one sitting there (Revelation 4:3). God is indescribable. We cannot explain Him using our currently limited vocabulary and limited human intellect.
Interestingly, John sees the same creatures (Revelation 4:6-8) that Ezekiel saw in his vision (Ezekiel 1). Exactly what they are we don’t know. But they are some sort of heavenly beings that have great intelligence and reverence for Jesus (Revelation 4:8).
The 24 elders who sit on smaller thrones around God’s throne have crowns (Revelation 4:10). The Greek word for crown here is στέφανος which is the word for a victor’s crown – like the crown an athlete would receive for winning. It is not the Greek word used for a king’s crown. These elders are not rulers or royalty. They are victors. By casting their crowns before God they are acknowledging that their victory (and ours) was won by Him.
There is nothing that hasn’t been created by God. He has willfully created everything (Revelation 4:11) and everything belongs to Him. That includes us. For this reason God is worthy to receive honor from us. The King James translation of this verse includes the phrase “thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created”. Everything and everyone has been created to bring God pleasure. God created us because He wanted to and for some reason, despite our rebellion and aloof attitude, He enjoys us.
Too many people live in fear of other people. And certainly some people on this earth are quite frightening. But fearing someone raises them up to a level they don’t deserve. Rather than fearing man we should trust God. When we do we live in safety and have no reason to fear anyone else (Proverbs 29:25).
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