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labourer lives in security and sees a full return for his toil! God is there, guiding all things to a good end. May we, O Lord, be these labourers, these dwellers, ever busy in cultivating the ground of our hearts, yet looking to Thy grace for fruitfulness ! May we build again the ruined edifice of faith for souls to inhabit safely ! May we have the gift of perseverance, to abide for ever in Thy covenant ! May Thy Home enfold us here and hereafter !
'O happy Land, where true repose
And peace await for ever, Where Thou Thine own dost give to drink
Of joy, as from a river !'
M HE vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord God concernT ing Edom; We have heard a rumour from the Lord, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle.
God sends a message by this Prophet, of whom we know no more
than his name. Some have thought that he was the same as Ahab's steward, beloved of God, who served and saved prophets (1 Kings xviii. 4). Some that he was that 'prince' whom King Jehoshaphat employed, with others, 'to teach in the cities of Judah? (2 Chron. xvii. 7). They had the book of the law of the Lord with them, and went about through the cities of Judah and taught the people.' But of all this we know nothing for certain. All we know is, that God sent him to deliver a threatening message against Edom. Most of the other Prophets take up and re-echo the same message. My God employs many servants :
Thousands at His bidding speed';
some willingly, others are unconscious or reluctant instruments. Be it mine to know my Master and carry out His wise purposes with a willing heart. His battle against wickedness is proclaimed, and I am bidden to stand forth on His side.
2. Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised. 3. The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground? 4. Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord. Who are these secure dwellers in rocks who look down con
temptuously upon the foe? None can approach them, none can
Esau persecutes Jacob
spoil them. Is not this the utterance of spiritual pride? Here is great influence, great renown, a position inaccessible to time or chance. Here all is secure and at peace. What can interfere with this glory?
5. If thieves came to thee, if robbers by night, (how art thou cut off!) would they not have stolen till they had enough? if the grapegatherers came to thee, would they not leave some grapes ? 6. How are the things of Esau searched out ! how are his hidden things sought up! 7. All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border: the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee; they that eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee: there is none understanding in him. 8. Shall I not in that day, saith the Lord, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau ? 9. And thy mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter. Here are robbers who spare nothing. They ransack every hidden
corner for treasure. Here are confederates who have turned traitors and use their intimate knowledge of the place to ruin their friends. Here is wisdom confounded, and strength brought to weakness. In Esau thus ruined, betrayed, dismayed, I see the downfall of those who like Esau trust to their own strong arm and worldly prudence, despising Divine grace. Let me, Lord, like the true Jacob, trust in Thy Mercy, Thy unseen Love. Esau in the old history had four hundred warriors, a citadel among rocks, a living won by the sword. He despises those who live as strangers and sojourners on earth, looking forward to somewhat that earth cannot give. That is the inheritance of Jacob.
10. For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever. II. In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them. 12. But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress. 13. Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their
Retribution on the Unmerciful
calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity; 14. Neither shouldest thou have stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his that did escape ; neither shouldest thou have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress.
Remember the children of Edom, O Lord, in the day of Jerusalem' (Ps. cxxxvii. 7). They stood apart from God's people, rejoiced over their downfall, robbed their goods, cut off their fugitives. They had no pity for God's Church in its day of distress. These are false brethren, who hate God's servants, corrupt Divine Truth, lead souls away from faith, laugh at holiness. O my soul, stand not thou with them. Let the troubles and anxieties of God's heritage find sympathy with me. “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.' Triumphs of grace shall be a delight to me; scoffs at truth, defeats of grace, shall be grievous in my eyes.
15. For the day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen : as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head. 16. For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been. Here is the day of retribution, which all the Prophets foretell.
Instead of intoxicating draughts of triumph shall come bitter draughts of 'deadly wine.' The foemen exulted over the downfall of God's Church, drank to its confusion ; but God makes them drain a cup full of bitterness. In the Hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture ; and He poureth out of the same' (Ps. lxxv. 8), a cup of vengeance for His foes, but of comfort for His friends. To these latter it is the cup of salvation. They turn to sweet the bitter that is in it.
17. But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness ; 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. 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
Mount Zion victorious
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. The spiritual sense of these promises is disclosed to us in the Acts of
the Apostles. There we read how Mount Sion was made holy by the Spirit of God, and from it proceeded those who invaded, who enkindled, who annexed other countries. Those who had been in captivity to their own fear, to superstitious practices, to the tyranny of evil custom, were made free by Christ Jesus and joined to His ransomed ones. Let us, Lord, be so enkindled, so enthralled, that nothing in us may resist Thy victorious grace. The Psalmist indeed cries out (Ps. lx. 9), 'Who will lead me into the strong city? who will bring me into Edom ?' But no hearts are inaccessible to Thee.
21. And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau ; and the kingdom shall be the Lord's. Here are two mountains set over against one another, Mount Sion
and the Mount of Esau. They wage long warfare, but Mount Sion triumphs at last. Saviours and judges arise from her and win the victory. God's kingdom is set up over all the earth. His enemies become His servants. May I, O Lord, in the day of Thy triumph be found on Thy side! Let my life and words be spent for the welfare of Thy kingdom! Those who set themselves against Thee shall rue their folly at last.