“Going Up?” – One Year Bible Reading – December 13

Old Testament:   Obadiah 1-21

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Obadiah 1-21   How Bad You Are

None of the prophets really were minor.  The smaller books are said to have been written by “minor” prophets only because they are shorter.  The book of Obadiah is only one chapter long.  We know nothing about Obadiah except that his name means “servant of the Lord.”  Even the date in which he wrote is questioned (841 or 586 B.C. depending on which battle is referred to in vv. 11-14 against Israel, see Ryrie).

The  book of Obadiah is essentially an oracle about Edom.  Edom is the nation that grew from Esau who was Jacob’s twin.  Jacob had God’s favor but Esau did not.  Esau sold his birthright for a “messe of potage” (cf. Gen. 25:29-34).  The phrase “messe of potage” is not actually used in a Bible translation though it can not be denied that the affair has caused a mess through the centuries (Shakespeare and others used the phrase). Ryrie cites disputes between Edom and Moses, Saul, David, Solomon, Jehoshaphat  and Jehoram (Num. 20:14-20; 1 Sam. 14:47; 1 Kings 11:14- 17; 1 Kings 11:14-25; 2 Chron. 20:22; 2 Chron. 21:8).

McGee sees the struggle of Esau and Jacob as representative of the inner struggle in a Christian between the old nature and the new nature (cf. Gal. 5:17).

The “clefts of the rock” in verse 3 is a reference to the rocks of the city of Petra, some of which were 2,000 ft. high.  They thought they were impregnable but they weren’t (cf. Prov. 16:18).  In verse 11, Edom “stood aloof,” in verse 12 they, “gloated” over Israel’s captivity (cf. Prov. 24:17), in verse 13 they participated in the looting of Jerusalem, and finally in verse 14 they blocked the roads so the Israelites could not escape.  We may think that this book is insignificant because it is not about Israel or Christians.  However, it shows that every nation will be judged by the fashion in which they treat Israel and whether they exhibit God’s righteousness (cf. Gen. 12:3).

The final section of Obadiah concerns the “Day of the Lord,” the concept Joel introduced.  It a time of judgment for any nation at any time but had its ultimate fulfillment in the seven year tribulation, “time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7), that precede’s Christ’s thousand year reign on earth (Rev. 20:4).  There are no Edomites anymore (cf. Isa. 34:5-17).  The oracle about the end times concerns all nations who have crossed Israel.

The Negev is the southern part of Israel which had been inhabited by the Edomites (vv. 19-21).  Israel will inhabit that area during the Millennium.  The “believers” in v. 21 are most likely the believing rulers of the time.  They will rule over the land once occupied by the Edomites from the top of Mount Zion.  Ultimately, Christ will be the ruler (v. 21c).

New Testament:  Revelation 4:1-11

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Revelation 4:1-11   Going Up?

Chapter four begins the three parts of the book of Revelation.  The first part was chapter one, “the things that you [John] had seen” (Rev. 1:19a).  The second part was the exposition of the churches, “the things that are” (Rev. 2-3, Rev. 1:19b).  The rest of the book concerns “the things which will take place after these things” (Rev. 1:19c).

“After these things” and “immediately I was in the Spirit” are phrases that indicate the Rapture of the church when it will be sucked up to Heaven just as John was (cf. 1 Thess. 4:16-17; 1 Cor. 15:51-54).  When John arrived in Heaven, he saw Jesus on His throne (v. 2b). John does His best to describe the beauty of the Lord using imagery from jewels (v. 3).  There were twenty-four elders around the throne sitting on their own thrones, most likely the twelve patriarchs and twelve apostles representing saints from the Old and New Testament (v. 4).

In verses 6 – 8 we see beings similar to the cherubim angels in Ezek. 1:4-14 and 10:15-20.  They seem to symbolize the four representations of Christ in the Gospels.  The Lion represents the “lion of the tribe of Judah” (cf. Rev. 5:5) and the Jewish nature of the Gospel of Matthew.  The calf represents the servanthood theme of Mark.  Luke’s emphasis on the “Son of Man” is represented by the face of a man.  The eagle suggests the deity of Christ featured in John.

The four living creatures worship Christ in verse 8.  Our hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” is derived from this verse.  The twenty-four elders in verses 10 -11 worship the Father.  They throw their crowns before Him (v. 10b).  Though there are several crowns mentioned as rewards in Scripture (2 Tim. 4:8; James 1:12; 1 Pet. 5:4; Rev. 2:10; 3:11) that believers will receive at the bema seat, they will all be thrown before Him in worship.  McGee thinks we might wear the crowns for a while then wonder what we’re doing wearing crowns in Heaven and then throw them at Jesus’ feet.  Makes sense to me.

Notice that the elders praise God for creating all things.  The “theory” of evolution in any form, in our day of Laodicea, robs God of his glory.  But in that day, He shall receive full glory.

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