At the end of Amos, the clouds of judgment broke and there were wonderful promises about the restoration of Israel. God would shake the nations like a sieve and not a single kernel (child of Israel) would drop through the cracks and be lost. And Israel’s crops would be so rich and fruitful. Then, did you notice?— Isaiah said the same thing in chapter 49.
Obadiah’s name means “servant of Yahweh” or “worshipper of Yahweh.” There are 13 men who have this name in the Old Testament, and it is very possible that the writer of this book is not one of those mentioned. Only two Old Testament prophetic books lack any information about the author: Obadiah and Malachi.
Obadiah refers to a time when the Edomites had gloated over a successful invasion of Jerusalem (vv. 10-14, 16), but this does not help much in dating the book, since invasions of the city happened at least seven times in Old Testament history. The Edomites lived in the inaccessible rock fortress of Petra— which is famously seen in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. From our vantage point, we may see the Edomites as being symbolic of all the proud enemies of God’s people.
In our first reading in Isaiah 49, I hope you noticed many poetic prophecies that remind us of Jesus. It is fascinating that most of these can be understood to refer to Cyrus as well! After all, Cyrus did release the captives of Israel to return again to their land. Alternatively, some of the prophecies may refer to the nation of Israel or even Isaiah, as the Lord’s servant.
Yesterday we heard the letter to the church at Ephesus— the church that lost their ‘love’ (in a literal translation). So the question is, they lost their love of who? The GNT specifies the implicit object ‘Me’ (meaning Jesus). NLT chooses another good option: It makes good sense to say that the love was for Jesus and for one another, since the two go hand in hand!
Secondly we heard about the poor and persecuted church in Smyrna. Their church is exceptional because there was no word of rebuke for them. Jesus just urged them to keep on being faithful.
Jesus ends each letter just like he ended his parables— which I paraphrase: “Ya’ got ears, don’t ya?! Well then pay attention …”
Remember what Isaiah said about people who have grown deaf!
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