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Short Solitude

Do you cherish quiet, alone time? It can be a great benefit to calm and focus the soul. Don’t push it away with noise of music and voice, dear reader. Lean into contemplative moments of quiet. It will make your time with others more enjoyable and meaningful. I had a short time in the woods to quiet my spirit. Check out my pictures and reflections at Laurel Falls.

I have nearly completed an abridged version of John Owen’s book, “The Glory of Christ.” (1) The book lifts your gaze from the mundane and glitzy things of this Earth to a deeper vision of who Christ is in His humanity. Theologically I did not learn much but devotionally I was challenged to a new level of pursuit of God.

On page 33, Owens writes, “It is impossible that someone who never meditates with delight on the glory of Christ here in this world, who does not make every effort to behold it by faith as it is revealed in Scripture, should ever have any real gracious desire to behold it in heaven.”

This statement and similar ones jolted me. Though the statement above could be applied to all Christ is in His divinity and humanity, Owen spends most of his time talking about Jesus’ humanity. Why do I not meditate and revel in the glory of Christ’s humility, willing submission, lowliness of life, and cruel death. Why could I not? As I read these things I came to realize the problem was not in ignoring or undervaluing what He did for me. Rather, I did not understand these things to be glorious. Glory in Hebrew is Kabod, meaning “heavy”. So, God’s glory is heavy or substantial. We think of brightness and omnipotent and exalted and incessantly praised and sovereign. These things come to mind when I think of the glory of God. Here Owens was urging me to see poverty, humility, and submission to death as glorious. Considering His willingness, facility, and power in carrying them out, indeed, they are glorious. I was pushed to consider them in a different way.

In consideration of my need for a mindset shift about how I considered Christ’s glory, I wrote the following poem:

Glory in lowliness
Who would have thought?
Supreme humility
Salvation brought

Glory seen in brightness
I would have thought
But here He was in flesh
No fanfare sought

Glory means weightiness
Substantial thought
Yet His work as Savior
Our poor souls bought

Glory submissiveness
Opposing thought?
But here He was dying
Salvation wrought

Glory in humbleness
Meek in all thought
His pattern and decree
While here He taught

Glory of God’s likeness
Oh blessed thought
In all He is and did
Him we exalt

  1. “The Glory of Christ” by John Owen, abridged and made easy to read by R.J.K. Law, first published 1684, abridged edition 1994, reprinted 2018, Puritan Paperbacks. (Not a very proper bibliography, but more than enough to find it online.)

One of the most practical results of good theology is a strong sense of hope and assurance. With these one may have peace, joy, and concern for others. I have not always had these, not because my stated theology was bad, but because my practical theology was. Let me explain. I can affirm what the Bible says, but if for whatever deep or hidden reasons I do not believe it so as to affect my feelings and actions, my stated theology is not my practical (aka: real) theology. The place where theology frequently shows itself awry is in the area of hope for eternity and assurance of salvation. Without confidence in where you will be in the afterlife, you have not confidence for living.

Does God exist? What is He like? What is the fundamental nature of man? Does man need to be rescued from sin? Is there an afterlife? Is there a heaven and a hell? Is there only one way to salvation? What is the way to salvation? These are fundamental questions of life. The Bible clearly speaks about all of these and more. It says that the above yes/no questions are all answered, “Yes!” Two of three of the other above questions may most simply be answered, “Jesus” (John 1:18, 14:6), and the third one, “in God’s image but broken.” (Genesis 1:26-27, Romans 3:23)

With that basic foundation, can a person be confident that they are saved and will remain so into eternity? Clearly, I John 5:13 says you may know. The remainder of this article is to explain from Scripture how I know that I will remain in this condition of “saved”, headed to heaven, and why I have confidence. I have been considering this blog entry for several months now, but I could not bring myself to complete it because the task seems so daunting. I have now written because I realized that I don’t have to nor can I write an exhaustive or even complete treatise on the subject. That is OK. I want to encourage others and myself, not write a book on theology.

Romans 8:28-39 says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

But what if I quit loving God? If you belong to Him, you will not do that. How do I know? Read the passage. Second on the list of those whom “God causes all things to work together for good” are those “who are called according to His purpose.” In reference to Israel, Paul says, “The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29), but the idea may be applied to all who fall under His purpose. Notice the progression following, listed in past tense. “He foreknew.” As it says in Romans 9:11-13, “for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” It was not by anything that Esau or Jacob did but by God’s choice, which is a part of foreknowledge in that it involves predestinating, the next on the list. The next part of the sequence was calling. He then justified and finally glorified. In our time limited existence, glorified has not yet happened, but in God’s time scale it is a done deal. So how do you undo by your unbelief what God has already done and declared completed? You don’t! Those who turn back could not have ever been saved and were self-deceived, because “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

Then God has Paul solidify the assurance by declaring that nothing can separate us from the love of God. The logical progression of the argument ensures that you know that no one or nothing physical or spiritual can rob God of you and therefore you of God. I find it most satisfying and interesting that He ends the list of things that cannot separate us from Him with “nor any other created thing.” (v.39) Are you, dear reader, a “created thing”? Can you separate yourself from God? I think not. Those whom God has chosen are confirmed. Those who separate themselves from the things of God were never His to start with. I am so thankful that I am His and that I am held firmly in the grasp of His mercy and grace.

A word of caution to those who feel self-satisfied with their assurance but show little or no evidence of a change in living. You are deceived. If I tell you that I have a red Lexus in the parking lot and you go out and do not find a red car nor a Lexus, then I have deceived you. Red and Lexus do not make them my car, but are mere evidences that the car is mine. So, if I say that I am a Christian, though I am not nor could I be saved by good works, then I must exhibit good works as evidence that God has gotten a hold of me and saved me. Am I being changed into a trajectory toward God and His ways, even with fits and starts and setbacks? Then I may have assurance that God has worked His work in my heart and I will persist in believing and persevere in salvation, already seen as glorified by God. Am I lacking in these evidences? Then I had better be crying out for God’s mercy and grace in my life so that I may see this sanctifying change, even if ever so slowly.

I had not to this point ever spent any significant time at Appomattox. If you could only go to one Civil War site to get an understanding of the war, I would say spend no less than two days at Gettysburg. But if you want a better understanding of how the war ended and what the following days looked like, visit Appomattox.

Now the actual site name is Appomattox Courthouse. The nearby town of Appomattox was originally Appomattox Station where a separate battle occurred. Using the correct name reduces confusion but not entirely. When you refer to Appomattox Courthouse, it might be assumed that the surrender meetings and signature took place in the courthouse, but that would be incorrect. It was so named because the little town of just over 100 people included the county courthouse. The signing took place in parlor of a local house. Though I went over the property, history, write-ups, and people of the scene with decent thoroughness, I cannot quite say the same for my photographs. To see what I did manage to record, click on “Conciliatory Surrender“.

Outdoor Birthday

I told my granddaughter that I was getting to do two of my favorite things on my birthday. Firstly, I was getting to go on a hike somewhere that I had never been to before, and secondly, I was getting to do something with her. She had been to this location twice before but had not made it to the top. I kept talking up the idea that she would make it this time. It was a challenge that took us about 2 1/2 hours to complete. That doesn’t include the mile hike in and out and the 1/2 mile hike down beside the boulders. The place we went to, and where you may click to see pictures, was God’s GravelYard (OK, they called it Devil’s Marbleyard on the map and signs but we decided to rename it since the earth belongs to God and none of the boulders were spherical.).

Thank You for

The radio preacher reminded me that thanksgiving is not just a privilege but a command. As 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I reflected on how much and how well that I thank God. Though I sometimes do more and frequently when singing hymns, I too often reduce my thanksgiving down to a quick prayer before a meal along the lines of “Thank You for this food and for this day.” In itself there is nothing wrong with the phrase, but it is trivial when repeated. Given all that God has given me, it is a wholly incomplete thought. So, I began to write a poem. As a few verses came, I then realized that it would be hard to say that this poem was ever really at an end. His gifts and goodness are infinite, and I could never thank Him for all that He is and all that He has done. That’s OK. I can start and continue and perhaps I have covered a few categories.

Thank You for this food and for this day
For all provisions along the way
Thank You for Your presence all the time
For Your wondrous attributes sublime

Thank You for this recent year gone by
For blessings, for trials that make us sigh
Thank You, too, for many times of rest
For faith, strength, and refuge in each test

Thank You for true fellowship in church
For prayers and good help when in a lurch
Thank You for the Word preached unashamed
For witnesses of fame and unnamed

Thank You for purpose and work to do
For times to say and live what is true
Thank You for Your Word to contemplate
For times to retreat and recreate

Thank You for those to love and be loved
For people to reach who are unloved
Thank You for the Gospel that saved me
For the blood of Christ that set me free

Thank You for beauty in all You’ve made
For Your glory that will never fade
Thank You for this world’s wondrous design
For Your knowledge and power divine

Thank You for heaven we will enjoy
For no more sin our peace to destroy
Thank You for eternity with You
For no more sorrow and all things new

Beyond Christmas

Perhaps it is a funny name for a poem before Christmas, but I do not mean chronologically beyond Christmas but rather conceptually beyond Christmas. The baby in the manger is a good historical reality and symbol for the humility of the divine Son of God, but it is only the beginning and by no means to the focus of His coming. As a lady reflected to me the other day, “We should always connect Christmas to Easter.”* For that matter I would add, we should connect First Advent to Second (judgment and heaven), and to Passover (the Cross), and to Resurrection. It is important and essential that we know and believe Jesus is fully God and fully man, as the Christmas story conveys, and why that is important in God’s salvation plan.

It has been quite some time since I have written a poem for Christmas. If you want to read my last ones, click on “Advent Colors” and “Tabernacled Among Us“, and then click on “The Fullness of the Empty” for a short commentary that explains much of what is intended to be conveyed in the following poem.

Just a little note to say
That we remember the day
Christ came to Earth as a man
To fulfill God’s saving plan

In the manger there He lay
All for us our sins to pay
Lived a life utterly pure
By His death made us secure

Exalted divinity
In fragile humanity
Perfect substitute we trust
By faith we can and we must

As man could die in our place
As God rescue Adam’s race
The little babe of Bethlehem
Came here sin and death to stem

The first noel angels sang
From David a Savior sprang
Peace and joy to Earth He’ll bring
With hope the ransomed will sing

Gold a present for the King
He has come, let the bells ring
Speaks of glory of divine
Never tarnish, always shine

Frankincense, means for the Priest
To please God well for us least
Our sins are gone, we rejoice
Loudly give our praise voice

Myrrh encases the Savior
Who died for our behavior
Symbol of a true wonder
Death could not hold Him under

Unto us a Son given
With death and hell has striven
Next time He will rule outright
With one word put foes to flight

Merry Christmas and a new year of knowing God better and following Him more closely.

*I am quoting, but I no longer use that term. I prefer Resurrection Day and I regularly use the term First Advent.

I haven’t much to say here other than click on “Little Blessings in the Day” to see pictures and read a little of what has happened in the last week.

Exercising and staying in shape is such a relentless, daily task. I don’t mean tedious, though if you don’t enjoy it or sufficiently appreciate the results, it can be. I mean that any let up in the pursuit of staying in shape is met with more likelihood of not staying thus. And I am not even talking about the psychological difficulties, though the tendency to give up or give in is ongoing. I refer instead to the accelerated decline in fitness with each occurrence of inconsistency. I am finding, as I may have been able to guess, that age is a factor trending towards an accelerated acceleration of decline, a real Jerk (1) if you ask me.

Now, I am not the giving up kind, so, I am always thankful for an opportunity to get up, dust off my behind, and jump into the saddle again. After three weeks of minimal exercise because of responsibilities and poor health, I went for a little hike with my middle son. It would have been longer, but neither of us had the stomach for a creek crossing in cold weather. The woods were quiet, the stream bubbling, and the conversation good. See my few pictures at Diminutive Falls.

  1. Physics term, look it up

Forte

My friend emphasized the word “Forte” as he described the good properties of the product. The product was Garlic Forte to be exact. Now to you or me that may seem obvious, but it must not have been to him, because when I said, “That must be loud”, by which I meant intense, he didn’t catch my drift. I explained that forte means “loud” in music, like the opposite of piano. He replied, “I never knew that.” No big deal, because it is a trivia fact if you have not been trained in music. But it set me to thinking about the real meaning of the word, its origin in music and elsewhere.

The Fortepiano was invented by an Italian chap named Cristofori in 1698. (1) I knew from my own piano training as a boy that the pianoforte, or piano as it became to be known, was so named because it struck the keys with a hammer so that it could be played loud (forte) or soft (piano) whereas its precursor, the harpsichord, plucks the strings at a more or less constant volume.

But why would an herbal product be called “Forte”? The word more generally means “strong”. And to say, for example, that “Talking is his forte”, is frequently said as “Talking is his strong suit.” So, Garlic Forte is strong or concentrated or effective or odiferous garlic. Well, I guess you could soften things down a bit and use Garlic Piano, but someone might note that you are playing a Musical Joke. (2)

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fortepiano
  2. K.522 by Mozart

Efficacious Security

I have most of my life struggled with a sense that maybe God doesn’t care. I know from Scripture, experience with answers to prayer, blessings, and encouragements from numerous people over years of time that He does care, but still, though less now, there is this occasional nagging question in my heart as to whether He cares. I no longer believe that it is a lack of faith, because it is by faith that I quickly dismiss it by replacing it with truth.

You see, I have long known that God is able. Both my study of Scripture and experience of His grace confirm that. Sometimes I am tempted by the thought that He is not willing. Recently, I was again thinking about these things because I am reading “The Glory of Christ” by John Owen wherein he speaks of Christ being willing and able to help us. The word that came to my mind was efficacy. Suddenly it seemed to me that efficacy is the connecting bridge between willing and able. Efficacy, “the ability to produce a desired or intended result”, connects intent and ability. God accomplishes what He intends. He would not accomplish it if He did not intend to do so. When He intends to do so, it is accomplished to the extent that He speaks something into existence which was not. He did so in creation; He does so in salvation.

Also, I have long been amazed by a transcendent God who cares about an insignificant human like me. Only, based on His free sovereign grace, I am not insignificant.

Most efficacious He
Who speaks a thing and it comes to be
With a thought or His hand
It hastens to move or firmly stand

In Him power resides
Infinite, sovereign, above all rides
Yet with kindness and truth
He defends, provides, renews our youth

A picture of His grace
Power condescends for Adam’s race
Willingly was humbled
In flesh and death for us who stumbled

Willing and able He
With the greatest of all need are we
The efficacy is real
How thankful we for this hope and seal

Sixer Seven

I missed out on the Mt. Collins/Clingmans Dome hike, which is OK because I did the hike from Newfound Gap to Clingmans in the winter of ’82 with a foot and a half of snow. I spent the night at Mt. Collins Shelter. I spent the next night under a rock overhang because the drifts prevented me from making it to Spence Field Shelter. But I digress. This hike with my daughter and son-in-law last Saturday was for the purpose of going to Mt. Kephart, a 6217′ knob just off of the main ridge toward Mt. LeConte. We added in a few other notable views, The Jumpoff, the highest single drop in the Smokey Mountains N.P., and Charley’s Bunion, a bare rock with an expansive view, for a total of 9 1/4 miles of hiking. For the pictures of this seventh six thousand foot peak that my daughter has hiked to, click on Mt. Kephart.

g,p,s

This article is tied very closely to a previous gps entry.

gps, Gracious Providential Serendipity, is good, but we should not live life in expectation of its provision all of the time. God is the source of all that we need, but we are to be diligently involved in acquiring what He provides. When it comes to the knowledge that I need for living and succeeding at what God has called me to, I need His gracious providential guidance. I see that it comes in two forms, gracious providential preparation and gps. The preparation may be events, enjoyable or difficult, that I had no part in bring about, but I need to make full use of opportunities to research and study and review and question and memorize and use knowledge available to me. God provides the mind, time, circumstances, and knowledge. I need to engage all of them. When all of that does not yield the knowledge that I need for some occasions, then I need gps.

In summary it seems to me, g (guidance) from God has these two corollaries, p (preparation) and s (serendipity). At least that is the way I am thinking about it now: g, p, s. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15, KJV), certainly with God’s Word but also in all endeavors for your King.

Gathering of the Clan

The meal, the conversations, the flag football game, more talking, more eating, renewing and strengthening family ties, becoming acquainted with new friends, and even a little football watching was done. I hope that your family had a relaxing and enjoyable time together. Holidays can be stressful. We so need to focus on what matters: our relationship with God and attention to His Word, His multiple provisions for us, our relationships with family and friends, and our and our nation’s life before God. Be thankful to God and diligent to please Him, friend. Check out our celebration of the day at “The Big Meal.”

If you have followed this blog for any period of time, then you know that there will always be one or more post-Thanksgiving entries. There are rich traditions developed around this holiday in my family. I have been realizing how valuable that is to the next generations. The big meal and afternoon flag football game have been a staple for two generations now. Seriously, my nephews and niece and my children and their children have been doing this with us for nearly 40 years now. There has to be a time when the traditions are passed down to the next generation, and changes, deletions, and additions are inevitable. Thus far the changes have been almost exclusively additions. This year we added going to my son’s house for Thanksgiving Day. Enjoy the pictures here of two children and their spouses and eight grandchildren. Another day I’ll share pictures of the big Friday meal.

Residual and Longing

Some things may best be unsaid, and I certainly don’t say all that I think here, but I am also sine ceres, “without wax” (1). The cracks in my pot show, and I am content for them to show if it brings glory to my gracious God who always causes me to triumph in Christ Jesus so that the knowledge of Him may be in every place (2 Corinthians 2:14).

In years past I was chronically depressed. For many of those years I would not even have characterized my condition as such, not knowing what ailed me. I was a believer and follower of Jesus, but did not know joy or peace. My confidence in belonging to Him has grown over the years, but my sanctification has not kept pace. I can relate to Bono of U2 in this (2). Depression and anger no longer control me and are infrequent strangers who pass me by in my travels. One area of particular growth for me is the area of peace. Because of the blood of Christ, I have peace with God (Colossians 1:20, Hebrews 13:20), but I have not always felt that peace. Increasingly I do. A frequent reader of this blog could discern that an area that I long to see growth in is the area of joy. It is after all a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). I get joy in little fits and starts, particularly when I am singing hymns about the grace and mercy of my Lord, but it is not the consistent nourishment of my soul.

So, a combination of conviction for sin and the sermon last Sunday precipitated the following verse (3):

Moments of sadness flood over me
Phosphenes of despair fleetingly see
From these vestiges may I be free
Satisfied and joyous in Christ be

I want to hasten to say how thankful that I am for God’s patience, provision, and presence. I am not who I should be, but I am not the man I once was. God is faithful (Philippians 1:6).

  1. https://banneroftruth.org/us/resources/articles/2008/sine-ceres-without-wax/
  2. http://jonathandodson.org/2006/10/sanctification-bono-barth/
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phosphene The remembrances of past failures probably are the external stimuli that bring about the sensations of despair.

Morning Quick Out

If the park had opened before 8:30, we would have been there earlier. Even so, we waited at the gate for 10 minutes and watched a rafter (flock) of turkeys, and then on up the road a Coyote scampered across the road. A half-dozen other cars came in at gate opening. They all gathered to talk in the parking lot. They seemed to be regulars who knew each other. For the other things we did and saw click on Bays Mountain Morning Hike.

I Peter 1:3-9: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.”

The bold type I added to point out that the best reason to rejoice is contained in this passage. For those of you who believe in and follow Christ as your Savior and Lord, your faith brings with it an assurance of being one day in heaven in the presence of God. A joy inexpressible is one that wells up despite the circumstances and beyond ability to explain. It is full of the glory we see in Christ, both for who He is and what He has done.

Paul gets a bit redundant when he is talking about the security of our home in heaven. He says our inheritance is imperishable, will not fade away, reserved, protected by the power of God. “In this” refers to what? The “this” is the soon to be revealed inheritance of heaven, most notably the presence of God. For though we do not see Him now, we are among the “pure in heart”, who “shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8) By no merit of my own, but only by His free, sovereign grace am I afforded in heaven a place.

Heaven is mine, I will rejoice
To thanksgiving and praise give voice

Believe the truth and love God’s Son
Salvation eternally done

Focus my mind on things above
Nurture, rekindle my first love

And when trials come, I will rejoice
For heaven is mine by His choice

Persevere will I by His strength
And rejoice in heaven at length

Mercy in the Contrast

Some of my deepest moments of awe come when I consider the contrast between who I am and who God is. In all of His nature and all of His ways He is wholly other and above me. And then to think that His mercy is so gracious toward me. Lean into the contrast and be in awe of God and His marvelous mercy and great grace.

God is transcendent, we are not so
Yet he condescends to us below

High and exalted; humble and low
Not to be faulted, if You cared not so

Holy and righteous; sinful condemned
Grace most amazing toward those who sinned

Having all knowledge; foolish unwise
Imparting truth, discerning all lies

Glory and honor; guilty with shame
Growing in blessing, glory and fame

Hard Words

Why did God include Obadiah in the Scriptures? Afterall, the judgements cited are repeated in Jeremiah 49, though who is repeating whom is not known since the date of Obadiah’s writing is uncertain. The book is very short, fewer verses than Jude, though a few dozen more words. Its purpose at the very least is to introduce or reiterate and confirm the judgements determined for Edom and clearly delineate why.

Verses 15-17 are key to the book:

“For the day of the Lord draws near on all the nations. As you have done, it will be done to you.
Your dealings will return on your own head. Because just as you drank on My holy mountain,
all the nations will drink continually. They will drink and swallow and become as if they had never existed. But on Mount Zion there will be those who escape, and it will be holy. And the house of Jacob will possess their possessions.” Obadiah 15-17

God is making use of Edom as an example of how He deals with any and all nations that tamper with His Chosen People. Edom and Israel are closely related by blood, history, proximity, and interaction, but they are treated identically to any unbelieving nation that harms Israel and will receive the same treatment at the hand of God. At this level it seems straightforward.

The understanding of God’s determination turns on the metaphor of drinking. Jeremiah 49:12-13 says, “For thus says the Lord, “Behold, those who were not sentenced to drink the cup will certainly drink it, and are you the one who will be completely acquitted? You will not be acquitted, but you will certainly drink it. For I have sworn by Myself,” declares the Lord, “that Bozrah will become an object of horror, a reproach, a ruin and a curse; and all its cities will become perpetual ruins.” From the context it is obvious that the cup that Bozrah, the capitol city of Edom, will be forced to drink is not pleasant. It is a cup of judgement. The Lord more clearly defines the nature of this cup in Jeremiah 25:15-16: “For thus the Lord, the God of Israel, says to me, “Take this cup of the wine of wrath from My hand and cause all the nations to whom I send you to drink it. They will drink and stagger and go mad because of the sword that I will send among them.” The cup is for Babylon, but verses seventeen and following tell of the many other nations who will have to drink it.

The tenses of the verb in the Obadiah verses cited above arrested my attention. In order they are “drank”, “will drink”, and “will drink”. Understanding that Edom will drink of God’s judgement and that all nations will likewise partake, is, as I said, straightforward. But what is it that Edom “drank”. Is God from His eternal, non-time bound perspective speaking of Edom’s future judgement as though it has already happened? I think that the detail of the passage says otherwise.

“As you have done, it will be done to you.” (v.15) In the metaphor of “drink”, I believe that the passage is saying that as you, Edom, did harm to My People, I, God, will do harm to you. How had Edom drunk? Verse 10 says, “Because of violence to your brother Jacob, you will be covered with shame, and you will be cut off forever.” Then the prophet lists the things that they should not do which they later did when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem. The cup that is drunk is one of wrath. Edom got their fill of scoffing, looting, enslaving, and cutting down escaping Israelites. They would receive the same punishment and more from God since they would “become as if they never existed” (v.16), like the nations.

The application to the United States as one of the nations is obvious. God will not ignore the many evil things that America has done and is doing to many peoples including their own. To name but a few, recall our proxy wars, setting up tribes (Taliban for instance) and turning around to destroy them, broken treaties, the many ways we poison our food, water, air, and soil for profit, sex trafficking, and abortion. Persecution of God’s People, the Church and the remnant of Israel, by America has begun and will intensify. God will not turn a blind eye concerning all of this evil. We will be judged like all the other nations who have not acknowledged Him and have hurt His People.

The judgements listed in Obadiah for Edom and the nations are further tied to the day of the Lord which includes God’s blessing of Israel. It is hard to sort out what parts of what verses refer to Edom and Jerusalem in the past and which are reserved for the future but based on the immediate and wider context of eschatological Scriptures, God is not done with Israel or the nations. And it is abundantly clear when the last verse of Obadiah says, “The deliverers will ascend Mount Zion to judge the mountain of Esau, and the kingdom will be the Lord’s.” (Obadiah 21) Take note of similar statements at the end of Joel 3, Amos 9, Zephaniah 3, and all of Zechariah 14, not to mention numerous times among the “major” prophets. The day of the Lord is a time of setting things right by fulfilling promises for judgement of sin and completing all of the blessings God has promised but not yet fulfilled. God be praised for His infinite knowledge, righteousness, and power. He has made known what His plans are for mankind.

Overflows from the Heart

"But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart…" Matthew 15:18

CreatorWorship

Pointing to the One who made, saved, and sustains