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Obadiah and Jersey folk

For the day of the LORD is near upon all the nations. As you have done, it shall be done to you; your deeds shall return on your own head.          Obadiah 15


The Jersey Archive contains old writings and records – and very interesting they are, especially for family historians. But the most comprehensive history and writings of any group of people on earth is the national archive BCE of the family and nation of Israel. They preserved it through thick and thin until Jesus came in AD 0.


Then the followers of Jesus said – your books are our books because they are all speaking so much of Jesus Christ on Nazareth. So the present followers of Jesus read these books and include them all in their Bible.


One sentence from that archive is in bold above. It’s from a book written (probably) around BC 586. You may recognise and agree with its sentiments. Indeed similar words are often repeated to our children as a maxim for sound behaviour, “Do as you would be done by!”


The preserved writings of Obadiah comprise only 22 sentences in English translation. What gave rise to this sentence number 15 above?                                                        

In BC 587, one year earlier than Obadiah’s one-side-ofA4, a nation called Edom (all Edomites being descendants of Esau who lived around 1800 BC) had watched as the nation of Israel (all Israelites being descended from Jacob, Esau’s brother) had been decimated by the swords of the Babylonians. This punishment of Israel was from the LORD – just and righteous.


Is there anything wrong with watching the suffering and downfall of others? Maybe not – but should one not help them? Is there anything wrong in sitting on one’s hands to watch the suffering and downfall of the family of one’s own brother? It’s worse than that.


Worse, Obadiah records these things –

·         Edom watched whilst Jerusalem, Israel’s capital city, was razed.

·         During that, Edom entered Jerusalem and set the Temple ablaze.

·         Edom looted whilst Israel was ransacked by the Babylonians.

·         Edom captured those Israelites who escaped -  and delivered them over to the Babylonian soldiers.


That’s why Obadiah, on behalf of the LORD, spoke the words in bold above to Edom.


Where do Jersey folk stand with regard to their brothers and sisters, human beings? We may not use military weapons but we certainly use economic and commercial and legal force and guile. “We’ve got to live.”


Obadiah’s A4-sheet records this perspective of the God of our Lord Jesus –

·         The Edomites thought they were impregnable because they lived in a very secure environment – above others;

·         The Edomites thought they had powerful allies who would look after them – unlike the Israelites.

·         Edom’s allies were deceiving them by peaceful words but were setting traps whilst eating with them.

·         Edom’s powerful allies would, in turn, actually force the Edomites out to the very border of Edom’s own lands.


Tough stuff. But there’s more – one more thing of major, major significance. The LORD made it clear to Obadiah and, through him, to the whole world, that the LORD would save a few of the people of Israel – his people - but none of the people of Edom.


He would cause some of the Israelites, who had been (justly in God’s sight) taken into concentration camps and exiled into suffering, to be restored to their own land and to have everlasting peace and blessing there.


When they turn back to him that will be the outcome – forgiveness and everlasting blessing. Such are always the purposes of God for His people, for those who turn to Him and live by faith.

‘No one is redeemed except through unmerited mercy, and no one is condemned except through merited judgment’ (Augustine of Hippo, Christian Theologian, 354-430)
‘Those who will not deliver themselves into the hand of God’s mercy cannot be delivered from the hand of his justice.’  (Matthew Henry, Bible Commentator, 1662-1714)
Richard Syvret

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