In The Spotlight
Paul makes his case very plainly. No human being who has ever been born is worthy to enter Heaven. No-one wants to find the real God nor want to be sinless. This is because each of us is born as a sinner. The mere fact that we are ‘conceived in sin’ means we are bound for hell, before we are born.
This chapter also deals with the ‘order’ of salvation… we were chosen by God, individually, and this means we cannot humanly accept or reject our salvation once it is given. We must be ‘born again’ or regenerated in spirit before we can listen to, and obey, the call to salvation. Then we repent and we are saved, instantly… no lengthy period of middle-ground. After that we ‘work out’ our own salvation – that is, we prove we are saved by our behaviour, beliefs and words. Then, at the end of time, we will be able at last to enter Heaven. This is the Gospel and it is amazing!
So many Christians live as if their salvation was meaningless. They cannot be distinguished from the unsaved and, to their shame, they do the same things. In some way or another we are all guilty of this at some time in our lives, so none of us can think himself superior.
Heaven is reserved only for those who love God and are saved. One cannot love God and be unsaved. Many within cults, such as Catholicism, say they ‘love God’. This is impossible, because those who are unsaved are bound to obey their ‘father the devil’ and do his bidding… and his bidding does not include the idea of loving God!
Loving God is a function or product of salvation, as a normal Christian characteristic. It is to be expected in the life of a saved person. This love includes a love for His word in every detail, not just the parts we prefer.
Hell is reserved for all people who are not saved. (There is no possibility of redemption once a person dies). Paul advises his readers of these two destinations and the very different ends of man. He clearly tells us what the unsaved are really like. He refers to their heart condition, not to their outward image, as seen by other men. The outward image of men can often be genial and good, but their hearts are steeped in sin, black and heading for hell.
As Paul says, God is no respecter of persons. He judges according to His own law, and will never deviate from it. Unlike us, God is not swayed by emotion. If we live and die as unbelievers, then we will automatically be destined for hell. If we live and die as saved men, then we head for Heaven, even if we make many mistakes, or sin, along the way. The reason for this is that our salvation depends not on our choices or activities, but on God’s election of our souls in eternity, predestinating us to glory.
Paul speaks of Jews who dishonour God by their blindness. The same charges can be aimed at us all, who claim to be God’s children, if we likewise dishonour Him by our sin.
This Book was written by Paul to the Christians at Rome. Many Christians read scripture, but only glean superficial facts from it. They read the truths and try to apply them, but not with much success. I liken this to reading school texts as a pupil: doing just enough to get through the course to gain a pass. Unfortunately, many university students use the same tactic, thus wasting time, effort and God-given intellectual energy, resulting in mediocre passes.
Others, a very few, read more deeply and meditate on what they have read, trying to dig for the ‘nuggets’ only discovered by applying some hard work. These are the ‘A’ students. Even fewer are called by God to not just read and study scripture, but to teach it to others. They are not necessarily academically trained, but the Holy Spirit has given them a calling, so He also gives them the understanding to go with it. The sadness comes when the first type – those who do only enough to get by on – try to ‘teach’ those who are called! They give embarrassing ‘meanings’ but are convinced they have great insights, when they do not.
Some think that the Obadiah of this book was the governor/chief steward of king Ahab’s household, when the kingdom was experiencing intense spiritual degeneracy. (This is why the book is so apt to read today, when a similar degeneracy applies to the West). Matthew Henry does not agree that this Obadiah is the one employed by Ahab. However, like Daniel, Obadiah maintained his own life with complete faithfulness to the Lord.
Whoever he really was, the book describes a vision given by God to Obadiah, that Edom would be destroyed and Israel restored. Though the shortest book in the Old Testament it contains a weighty matter. He sees the capture of Jerusalem before it happened, and, in typical Hebraic fashion, he speaks of it as if it had already taken place. Obadiah lived about 400 years before Christ. He sees the Edomites joining forces with the Chaldeans and Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Israel and capture Jerusalem. For this reason, Obadiah was sent by God to declare His judgment upon Edom.
The prophecy was written just before, or about the time of, the destruction of Jerusalem. Edom is a type of God’s and Israel’s last foe, which makes it highly pertinent in today’s politico-religious environment, in which both Israel and Christians are surrounded on all sides by hateful enemies bent on destroying both. The conclusion is that in the end God will win, the enemy will be vanquished, and the kingdom will be supreme.
Edom (‘red’, and, through several roots, adam) is another name for Esau, whose descendants lived in a mountainous region called Edom, which ran from the head of the gulf of Akabah to the foot of the Dead Sea, a wild and rugged land, with fruitful valleys interspersed. The Edomites displaced the original inhabitants, the Horites, by war (and yet intermarried with them). They later opposed the kings of Judah and Israel, and refused to allow them free passage in their land, remaining hostile to Israel during its gradual decline, and waging war against it.
Though allied to the Chaldeans, Edom was slowly absorbed by Chaldean power until the Edomites eventually disappeared. Today, one of their chief cities, Petra, is barren and uninhabited, the people and language removed from time and history. The end of all who oppose God and His people.
By language and blood, the Edomites were closely related to the Israelites, which made their hostility to Israel and God all the more reprehensible. We see exactly the same hatred coming from the sons of Esau towards Israel, today, and, in the West, towards Christians. (2023 note: Hamas caused war between Israel and Islam).
Many Christians have the odd idea (borrowed from evolutionist propaganda and Higher Critical liars) that because we are ‘modern’ we are ‘more advanced’; therefore, those who lived at the time of Obadiah were ‘backward’ by comparison. The notion has no basis in fact; if anything (a view shared by ‘Intelligent Design’ science) the people of ancient times were far more advanced in intellect and achievements*. Their religious sense was far more honed than it is today. This is why the ‘minor prophets’ such as Obadiah should be heeded more closely. (*Today’s achievements are the product of millennia of accrued knowledge and activity).
Overall, I suggest we can read this book as a modern warning against all who oppose God and His people, but especially against those who claim to be ‘related’ spiritually – corrupt Christians, who join forces with evil, wicked movements... we know what these movements are. God will punish these groups of ‘believers’ who, instead of supporting God and His word, support the wicked men and women who oppose Him. They openly claim freedom for them, and call for legal recognition of their sin and their ‘rights’, even though God gives such people no rights at all.