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How do Christians understand the vision of Obadiah? Is this an end time prophecy? If so who is Edom today? If they believe this was already fulfilled in the past and Edom no longer exists then why do we not see that the kingdom has already been established as the vision concludes?

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    – agarza
    Commented Mar 11 at 2:44
  • This article is helpful: gotquestions.org/Edom-Obadiah.html Commented Mar 11 at 5:14
  • @PaulChernoch given the content of the webpage you linked to I’m guessing you ascribe to the view that Edom has already been destroyed. But you didn’t answer the second half of the question. How do you explain that the kingdom has not come? The destruction of Edom is intrinsically linked with the coming of the kingdom in Obadiah. Commented Mar 11 at 5:20

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Historical Overview: The Edomites were descendants of Esau, the twin brother of Jacob and grandson of Abraham. In the fifth century B.C., a people called the Nabateans defeated the Edomites and forced them from the city of Petra. Some first-century leaders, such as Herod the Great, still traced their ancestry to Edom, but all mention of Edomites fades after the Jewish Wars of that era. At the end of the 4th century, Jerome referenced the land of Idumea (Edom), but the people of the region had long since disappeared.

This source provides extensive background information on Edom as well as references to the Bible and the Tanakh:

The Edomites first established a kingdom ("Edom") in the southern area of modern-day Jordan and later migrated into the southern parts of the Kingdom of Judah ("Idumea", modern-day Mount Hebron) when Judah was first weakened and then destroyed by the Babylonians in the 6th century BC... Most of its former territory is now divided between present-day southern Jordan and Israel.

You ask if Christians think Obadiah is an end time prophecy. Not to my knowledge, but then I’ve only been a Christian for 40 years. Although I am aware that one group of Christians think that Obadiah verse 21 points to the coming of the Christ and the deliverance of Zion in the last days, they are very much in the minority. As far as I am aware this is not a view upheld by mainstream Christian denomination.

There is one reference to the coming “day of the Lord” in verse 15:

The day of the LORD is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head.

This warning applies to ALL nations, and not just to Edom. There was a literal fulfilment with regard to Edom but the end-time day of the Lord and the establishment of His kingdom is some time future.

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On 14th December 2002 I took shorthand notes of a lecture on the book of Obadiah, given by John L. Mackay. He was a graduate of Glasgow, Oxford and London universities, and became an internationally respected Old Testament scholar, providing practical exposition and application of doctrine in his lectures. I transcribed my notes, which are now before me. This answer is extracted from the relevant bits. First, a bit of historic background, with the prophecy having two possible dates as to when it was written, either 480 B.C. or around 586 B.C.:

"The focus is on the future life of Judah in the south that prevailed for many centuries. Edom was constantly hostile to Israel, right from coming out of Egypt. David had brought them into the kingdom but they asserted their independence. At the time of the Babylonian invasion of Judah, before the siege of Jerusalem started, they devastated the land in the south of Judah. After that, the Edomites moved into that area. They were almost like Babylon's allies. Idumea became the name of that land."

The prophecy only has 21 verses, yet contains four significant themes:

1.Divine condemnation of pride: Edom trusts in her sages, her wise men. This pride will lead to her destruction. Pride distorts human perceptions of the present and the future.

2.The Law and retribution: Vs. 15, "As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head." God's judgment is never arbitrary. It matches in severity and kind to the offence perpetrated. "The fruit of your doings" is what vs. 15 means by "your deeds". We reap what we sow - Gal. 6:7. Obadiah repeats the word 'day' nine times (vss. 11-14). The Day of the Lord in vs. 15 is compared with those "days" of the nations, reinforcing the message of retribution.

3.The Day of the Lord: God will decisively intervene in the nation' affairs. Each time he does, that is "a day of the Lord" and there will be a final, ultimate Day of the Lord.

4.The restoration of the Lord's people: He is never prepared to let their sin have the last say on the day of their destiny. Is this an O.T. picture of the future?

Just as the Day of the Lord spoke of a particular time in history past when God intervened in judgement, yet the Day of the Lord will be a final coming of the Great Day, so here is a prophecy that at one level looks to the physical land of Palestine - is that an aspect of the meek inheriting the earth? Covenant theology favours those prophecies having a measure of validity in olden times to finding their fulfilment in the Church of Christ."

He leaves the question unanswered. Yet elsewhere in the notes he makes the point that Obadiah is giving this oracle of God against the nations - plural. The recipients of the oracle were "God's people, to encourage them in the face of opposition and hostility. Doom is to come on the nations [plural] because of their treatment of God's people. It was also a bold assertion of the Lord's universal dominion which was not an obvious thing in those days where each nation had its own array of deities responsible for particular areas. This reminded God's people of his covenant love for them and his commitment to them."

Not contained in my notes, but thrown in here at no extra charge, is that national groups can change their names, merge, move to different geographic locations, or even be subsumed in myriad other nations so that they are no longer identifiable as a distinct nation. The name "Edom" with respect to any coming fulfilment on the future Day of the Lord might well stand for all and any peoples (plural) who show ancient Edom's characteristics in the time of Obadiah. To get hung up on identifying just one nation by its name is to miss the final point of the future Day of the Lord. Why? Because as the ultimate end-time prophecy in the book of Revelation shows, names come to represent identifying characteristics. And, by then, things have gone global, with no group on Earth free from the wrath of the Lamb when he returns to judge the whole world. Nobody will escape divine retribution, apart from those whom he identifies as belonging to him - his people, called in the New Testament, spiritual Israel, which is made up of both Jews and Gentiles.

This answers the second query raised. It's not a literal earthly kingdom with nations called Israel, or Edom, or whatever, that the final fulfilment points to. The Kingdom of God is heavenly, with Christ as its King. Presently, he is enthroned in heaven, but when he comes to usher in the Day of Resurrection and Judgment, the entire world, with all its nations, will so tremble that they will cry out for the mountains to fall over them, to hide them from the wrath of the Lamb. But those who already belong to him by faith are spiritual Israel, and they will be delivered. Only after that will the old Earth be consumed with fire, then "a new heavens and a new earth, in which dwells righteousness" will replace the old Earth. This future righteous judgment of God is explained in 1st Thessalonians 4:14-5:3; 2nd Thessalonians 1:4-10 & 2 Peter 3:7-13. No nations are named. All the nations will be judged, and - don't forget - "Judgment must begin at the house of God" 1 Peter 4:17.

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  • So you ascribe to replacement theology? The creator has gone back on his word to the patriarchs and made the citizens of Rome his chosen people rather than the descendants of Yaakov? Commented Mar 11 at 12:08
  • @Yaakov Tzir No, I don't. Kindly stop trying to pigeon-hole people like that. I am not here to defend 'replacement theology' let alone promote it. God will never go back on his promises, either in the Old Testament or the New. "Citizens of Rome" is your phrase, not mine, and I do not identify with that. I am a citizen of the Kingdom of God, with Christ as its King, and it embraces both Jews and Gentiles.
    – Anne
    Commented Mar 11 at 12:50
  • What would be the law code of this kingdom? Would it be an anarchic society? Or would Rome or whatever you see ans its successors get to dictate the new law code? I am presuming you believe that the Torah has been nullified. Commented Mar 11 at 12:54
  • @YaakovTzir As you are new to this site, please note that comments are not for starting debates, arguments, or trying to prove the OPs point of view to be correct. That sort of thing can get Qs closed down. Therefore, I will not respond to your further Qs to me personally, because I don't want to see your main Q closed down. I hope you soon get into the swing of how this site works. Click the links that explain that.
    – Anne
    Commented Mar 11 at 13:00
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    Up-voted +1. Excellent point that prophecies may prophesy of characteristics and may label those characteristics with the current and contemporary nation displaying them.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 12 at 15:53

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