Precious Promises: Seeing the Future Through the Eyes of a Prophet

AN EXPOSITION OF OBADIAH 1:17-21

17 But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.

Beginning in verse 17 several precious promises are given that concern the salvation of the Old Testament Church symbolized by spiritual Judah.

The prophet declares in verse 17, “But upon Mt. Zion shall be deliverance.” Here is the first promise.  

For Jews in captivity, this would be a wonderful promise of hope. Mt. Zion was where the Holy Temple was located. Mt. Zion was the place of worship. Mt. Zion was where God met with His people. There was salvation to be found in Mt. Zion.

Historically, the Jews of the Babylonian Captivity took hope when they read the words of the prophet and they did return. Wave upon wave went back to Jerusalem from the land of bondage after seventy years of captivity.

Other generations also took hope during difficult days. For example, had a Jew, after the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, read the prophet Obadiah, the heart might have been encouraged that yet again, the time would come when the Jews would return to the land. And they would have been right! Since 1948, many Jews have literally found deliverance and safety in Mt. Zion.

In a larger sense, the deliverance of the Jews is typical of the redemption the Church enjoys in Christ. Spiritually, Mt. Zion speaks of heaven in eternity and the place of worship in time. A remnant shall always be found upon the holy mountain. As a spiritual nation, the Church might know something of temporary conquest.

In Britain, the Church of England is being surrounded by Islamic Fundamentalism. Still, God has a remnant that worships the true God. 

In America, formalism, ritualism, and ecumenicalism have united with liberalism to encroach upon the Church.

Nevertheless, God has a remnant and a multitude more have found salvation upon Mt. Zion.  No matter how dark the days may become politically, socially, or spiritually, the Church can look to the future with confidence that there will be deliverance upon Mt. Zion.  

As there will be salvation so there will be sanctification. The Bible text says, “and there shall be holiness” (1:17).

It is easy to despair over sin.  We struggle and struggle against sin. We make resolutions. We read books. We weep at the altar. And still we sin.

We grow afraid for we have read that without holiness no one shall see God. Sometimes we despair for we sense that sin has made a hypocrite of our faith.  There is public behavior but private sin.

We feel we are a spiritual schizophrenic. Our heart is divided. Our lives are compartmentalized so that there is spirituality but there is also shame because of sin. We believe that we are alone in our struggles. All others seem to be so much better. And we wonder if we know anything of true salvation.

It seems as if Satan can take us captive at his will while on other occasions there is resistance to sin and great love for the Lord. We wonder what the future holds. The prophet encourages our heart for the promise is given, “And there shall be holiness.”

This could not be said unless there is to be a divine operation. Our hearts take courage. If salvation is of the Lord, so is sanctification. As Christ works our salvation, so our sanctification will be according to grace.  1 Corinthians 1:30 declares, “But of him [God] are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” All God’s people can look to the future for holiness. While the struggle against sin continues in the flesh, the promise is given, “And there shall be holiness.”God has spoken. It will come to pass.

17 But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.

The second promise Obadiah gives to the Church the promise that both salvation and sanctification shall spread for, “the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.” 

God is determined to save both Jew and Gentile. And so, the day came when the heart of the Gentile lady named Lydia was opened and her whole household was saved.

The woman at the well of Samaria drank from the Living Water and went and told the men of the city how to be saved.

Peter and then Paul met Jesus and later preached to the Gentiles who brought their honor and glory into the New Jerusalem.

“And the nations of them, which are saved, shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the Earth do bring their glory and honor into it (Rev. 21:24).  And there is more. God has promised an inheritance for His people.

A new home.
Eternal life.
A new name.
A new body.
A new heaven and a new earth.
A new government of righteousness.
A reunion with loved ones.
The promise of seeing Christ.
The promise of sitting at a banquet table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

After each one of these things, it could be written, “And the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.”

18 And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it.

There is a third promise. In the future, as Obadiah saw, the Church shall judge its enemies (1:18). “And the house of Jacob shall be a fire [of judgment], and the house of Joseph a flame, and Esau [the enemy], for stubble.”  All the New Testament writers agree the Church shall one day judge the angels, and judge the world.

Finally, the Church shall not only be saved, sanctified, secure in its possessions and, sit in judgment, it shall also see its borders expand, verses 19-20.

19 And they of the south shall possess the mount of Esau; and they of the plain the Philistines: and they shall possess the fields of Ephraim, and the fields of Samaria: and Benjamin shall possess Gilead.

20 And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; and the captivity of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the south.

21 And saviours [judges] shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD’s.

Historically, the prophet Obadiah predicted that Judah would one day return to the land and expand her territory in the South (Edom), West (Philistines), North (Ephraim and Samaria) and East (Benjamin, on the other side of the Jordan).

Spiritually, the prophet sees that the Church shall know great triumph too. And it has!

Starting small in Jerusalem, the Church has gone into Judea, Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the world.

This has happened because, according to Obadiah 1:21, God has already sent forth saviours in the form of preachers of the gospel. While unbelievers are judged by the gospel, it is still salvation to all that believe.

According to Obadiah, the future is full of hope and glory for the Church. We are invited to see the future through the eyes of the prophet.

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