The Promised P's
I. If there’s one thing we Midwesterners know—or if you’ve just moved here, you’ll soon come to learn—it’s winter. We know, or you’ll learn, how to dress, how to drive, and how to clear a driveway when it snows. The longer you spend time here, the more intuitive you’ll be to when snow will fall and how long it will stay. This year, we had our first snow fall in October. Even though it was officially STILL fall, winter had already come. That first snow fall was like an announcement that said, “Winter is here!” even if it’s still fall. This is close to the reality that Christians live in. Redemption has ALEADY been accomplished and we are ALREADY a part of the kingdom of God. But we have NOT YET come to the fulfillment of time. The day of the Lord has NOT YET come.
II. Last week, we considered the day of the Lord through Obadiah. We now know that the day of the Lord will show God’s sovereignty and imminence, and will bring just judgement and hope. But that is not all that God has spoken through the prophet Obadiah about this imminent day. The coming day of the Lord finds its end in the promise of verse 21 that the kingdom will be the Lord’s. But what does this kingdom look like?
III. Obadiah begins to reveal the answer in verse 18. Let’s look at that together. If you haven’t already turned to it, Obadiah 18 is found on page 772 of your ESV chair Bible. We read, “The house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau stubble; they shall burn them and consume them, and there shall be no survivor for the house of Esau, for the Lord has spoken.” In this verse, the house of Jacob is referring to the whole kingdom of Israel. The following phrase, “the house of Joseph” makes this explicit. God is including the northern kingdom as part of the fire that will consume Esau. This inclusion is remarkable for Obadiah’s audience because the northern kingdom had been conquered already by the Assyrians. By including the house of Joseph, God was promising an act of restoration for this northern kingdom at the same time that he was promising to restore the freshly conquered southern kingdom.
IV. As God restores the entire nation of Israel, he promises that the house of Esau shall be stubble and that they shall be burned and consumed. The word “stubble” is also translated as “chaff.” In the ranching and farming community we’re in, I probably don’t have to explain that stubble or chaff are the left over and worthless husks of grain that have been separated from the seed. Also, I probably don’t have to explain that these ignite easily and burn quickly. But what I would like to point out is that these four lines in verse 18 point directly to the 5th line—“there will be no survivor for the house of Esau.” The house of Esau will be ravaged so quickly and so completely that no survivor will be left to it. And this will not happen because of the strength of Israel nor the weakness of Esau. It will happen because the Lord has spoken.
V. Edom, which has caused so much trouble for Israel because of their pride, will be destroyed. No longer will God’s people have to deal with enemies. There will be peace in the kingdom of the Lord. Today, we are going to find four attributes to the kingdom of God. Each of these attributes will begin with the letter “P.” This is the first “P” of the promised kingdom of the Lord—there will be peace. There will be no enemies left to antagonize God’s people. There will be peace.
VI. The second “P” is found in verse 19. Look at what it says, “Those of the Negeb shall possess Mount Esau, and those of the Shephelah shall possess the land of the Philistines; they shall possess the land of Ephraim and the land of Samaria, and Benjamin shall possess Gilead.” Verse 19 carries forth the idea presented in verse 17—the house of Jacob shall possess their own possessions. In this case, the possessions they will possess is land. Land has always been viewed as a gift from God. In Deuteronomy 1, we read how God gifted the Israelites the Promised Land. This promised land would be a place of rest where God himself would dwell. Here, God is promising through the prophet Obadiah to restore this land to his people. What a great hope and promise this is for a people experiencing such turmoil! Verse 19 reveals that God is expanding the promised land in all directions—to the south with the Negev, to the west with the land of the Philistines, to the north with the land of Ephraim and Samaria, and to the east with the land of Gilead. God is marking off a PLACE for his kingdom. That is our second “P” today. The kingdom of God is marked by a Place.
VII. Now, how should we understand verse 20? Look at it with me. It says, “The exiles of this host of the people of Israel shall possess the land of the Canaanites as far as Zarephath, and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad shall possess the cities of the Negeb.” Verse 20 presents a puzzle because possessing the land of the Canaanites was already taken care of in verse 19. To solve this puzzle, I’m going to use the NASB translation that gives us a more accurate translation of the Hebrew. Verse 20 in the NASB says this, “And the exiles of this host of the sons of Israel, Who are among the Canaanites as far as Zarephath, And the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad, Will possess the cities of the Negev.” Rather than possessing the land of Canaan, it is calling the exiles out of these areas to return and resettle in the place that God is providing. God is promising in verse 20 to gather his people in to his kingdom. The kingdom that is marked by Peace and a Place will also be marked by God’s PEOPLE. That is our third “P” today. The kingdom of God is marked by God’s People.
VIII. Now… we come to the final verse in Obadiah. Verse 21 says this, “Saviors shall go up to Mount Zion to rule Mount Esau, and the kingdom shall be the Lord's.” Notice that the word “savior”—also translated “to deliver”—is in the plural form—“saviors” or “deliverers.” This word is a verb—specifically, a Hiphal participle verb. Hiphal verbs in the Hebrew are “causal verbs” meaning that it is causing something to happen. Literally, then, this word “to save” or “to deliver” means “those causing deliverance.” The action of saving or delivering others is such a core part of who these people are that this is why they are called “Saviors” or “deliverers.” It is this active deliverance that sets these people apart to occupy that place which is holy and to rule over Mount Esau.
IX. How different this is to the Edomites who, in verse 14, were capturing and killing survivors! These Saviors are in direct contrast to them—they deliver others. And notice the direct link between Mount Zion being ruled by deliverers in verse 21 and Mount Zion being a placed marked by deliverance in verse 17. Those marked as causing deliverance will occupy the place of deliverance and rule Mount Esau. The word, “to rule” means to judge or govern. This Hebrew verb is used to convey ruling in an administrative sense. Whatever deliverers may be given to rule the kingdom, ultimate authority belongs to the Lord himself. They will be in submission to the Lord who owns the kingdom marked out in verse 19. The kingdom shall be the Lord’s—he himself will be there. God’s kingdom will be marked by his PRESENCE. This is our final “P” of the kingdom of God. God’s kingdom will be marked by his Presence.
X. All of this leads to our first point for today. The kingdom of the Lord is marked by Peace, a Place, God’s People, and God’s Presence. The kingdom of the Lord is marked by Peace, a Place, God’s People, and God’s Presence. The day of the Lord has reached its climax in Obadiah. What begins with just judgement in verses 15-16, moves to hope in verse 17, and now ends with the promise that the kingdom of the Lord will be marked by Peace, a Place, a People, and God’s Presence.
XI. This is our BIG IDEA for today… We got to it early this time, didn’t we?… Obadiah 18-21 is summed up with this statement: The kingdom of the Lord promises 4 “P’s”: Peace, a Place, a People, and the Presence of God. The kingdom of the Lord promises 4 “P’s”: Peace, a Place, a People, and the Presence of God. This kingdom will find its ultimate fulfillment at the end of time when Christ will return and every tear will be wiped from our eyes. We will spend an eternity with the Prince of Peace, in the Place of heaven, as his People glorifying him, and in his Presence. [This is depicted for us today by Jensen and Miriam…]
XII. We will spend an eternity with the Prince of Peace, in the Place of heaven, as his People glorifying him, and in his Presence. But Christians live with the reality that the victory is ALREADY won even though we do NOT YET see this ultimate fulfillment. We ALREADY feel the chill in the air and have seen snow on the ground but winter is NOT YET here. How does this work?
XIII. Much like our first snow fall in October, the kingdom of the Lord is ALREADY here, but NOT YET fulfilled. How could it already be here? Well, it was inaugurated by Jesus. In Mark 1:14-15, Jesus announces at the beginning of his ministry that, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” The kingdom of God is at hand. It is near. As we saw in Obadiah 21, the kingdom of God is the place where God rules. Jesus, the ruler of his kingdom, announced and launched the kingdom of God during his life and ministry here on earth. His whole purpose on earth was to affect the promise laid out in Obadiah.
XIV. The first mark of God’s kingdom described in Obadiah was peace—a peace won by destroying the enemies that threaten peace. It’s no wonder, then, that his followers thought that when Jesus announced that the kingdom of God was near, that he meant a physical kingdom where the Roman authorities would be overthrown. After all, this seems to be what is described by Obadiah in verse 18. But Jesus reminds them that his kingdom is not of this world. AT LEAST NOT YET… He did not come to secure a national peace, but an ULTIMATE peace for those who trust and follow him. IN HIS FIRST COMING, Jesus came to destroy the ultimate enemy that everyone has in common—sin and death. And just as the destruction of Israel’s enemies was not determined on their might or Edom’s weakness, but on the Lord, SO TOO is the destruction of sin and death not determined on our strength or ability but on Christ and Christ alone.
XV. Jesus has completely conquered sin and death, securing the victory for us. This is why Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15, “Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God(!), who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The kingdom of the Lord was ALREADY inaugurated by Jesus. He has secured the first of the promised “P’s” for us: Peace. We have ultimate peace because our ultimate enemies of sin and death have been defeated.
XVI. The second mark of God’s kingdom described in Obadiah was a place—a place marked out by God himself. Jesus secures for us not only peace, but a place as well. Turn to John 14 with me. John 14:1-3 found on page 901 of your ESV chair Bible. Jesus is at the last supper with his disciples. He knows that these are his last moments with them before his crucifixion. Always loving and compassionate, Jesus seeks to reassure them. He says, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” Jesus kingdom is not of this world and he goes there to prepare a place for us. Those who believe and follow Christ ALREADY have a place prepared for them—even though they are NOT YET there. The kingdom of the Lord was ALREADY inaugurated by Jesus. He has secured the second of the promised “P’s” for us: a Place. Jesus himself has prepared a place for us.
XVII. Jesus has secured two of the Promised “P’s:” Peace and a Place. What about the third Promised “P,” a People? Keep your finger in John 14 and turn back a page or two to John 10:14-16. Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” Jesus is our good shepherd who is gathering his sheep from all over the world into his one flock where he will be their one shepherd. Those who believe and follow Jesus are his people that he gathers together. By Christ’s death and resurrection, Jesus provides the means for his sheep to be gathered and kept together in one flock. By his blood, we have peace. By his blood, we have the assured hope of a place being prepared for us. And now, by his blood, we are gathered in, called his people, and kept secure in his love.
XVIII. What great love the Father has lavished upon us! That we should be called children of God! And that is what we are. 1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” The kingdom of the Lord was ALREADY inaugurated by Jesus. He has secured the third of the promised “P’s” for us: his People.
XIX. The final promised “P” is found back in John 14:16-17. Look at it with me, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” The Holy Spirit has been sent to those who believe and follow Christ. God himself dwells within us. He is personally present in every single follower of Christ. He is changing us, molding us, sanctifying us to become more Christlike, to become more humble and less prideful, to rely on him, and to trust in him more and more each day. It does not matter where we are in the world, GOD. IS. WITH. US. God has gathered us as his people and he is ALREADY with us in this world. The kingdom of the Lord was ALREADY inaugurated by Jesus. He has secured the fourth and final of the promised “P’s” for us: his Presence.
XX. All of this leads to our second point for today: the kingdom of the Lord was ALREADY inaugurated by Jesus. The kingdom of the Lord was ALREADY inaugurated by Jesus. He has given us peace, has prepared a place for us, continues to gather his people, and is with us. God has made and fulfilled each of the promised “P’s” present in Obadiah.
XXI. So, we know that the kingdom is already here through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. We look forward to the day that we will be with him in paradise. But how should we live in this… NOT YET phase in the meantime? Just like when we know that winter is coming and we prepare for it by putting away any outside summer objects and getting the snowblower up and running, what should we be doing in this NOT YET phase?
XXII. Obadiah teaches us how to live in the NOT YET phase. This is our third point for today. Obadiah teaches us how to live in the NOT YET phase. Let’s return to the book of Obadiah to finish out our time today and to finish out our series on this minor prophet. How do we live in the NOT YET phase? Three weeks ago, we investigated Obadiah 1-9. We saw that God was very angry with the Edomites because of their pride. Pride is self-reliance and not God-reliance. They placed pride, trust, and security in their defenses, actions, ability to rebuild, wealth, allies, wisdom, and strength All of this is foolishness to God but…they were still proud of it. They strutted around with nothing on.
XXIII. Obadiah teaches us how to live in then NOT YET phase by focusing on WHAT NOT to do. While defenses, work ethic, money, allies, wisdom, and strength are all wise to have, none of these things should make us pridefully self-reliant. Obadiah 1-9 teaches that we must humbly trust in God alone for security. God is calling us to rely solely on him, to be a witness of calm and peace to others in the midst of the panic and chaos. In this NOT YET phase, we must humbly trust in God alone for our security.
XXIV. Obadiah reveals to us in verses 10-14 how pride grows to produce other sins. If we are prideful, it will be seen through our actions. Pride loves self instead of God or others. It can produce sins of indifference, calloused boasting, an opportunist mentality, and violence towards unbelievers AND our brothers and sisters in Christ. Again, Obadiah teaches us what to do by demonstrating WHAT NOT to do. Instead of indifference, we should be intentionally active in helping each other. Instead of calloused boasting, we should offer words of comfort and mourn with those who mourn. Instead of trying to benefit from others misfortune, we should compassionately help and offer grace. And instead of violence, we should seek to restore. This is how we should live in the NOT YET phase. God calls us to humility instead of pride. Humility is love of God and others more than self. We must humbly and actively serve our neighbors.
XXV. In verse 15-17, Obadiah points forward to a future day when the Lord shall come to justly judge and deliver his people. This day is near and will reveal the sovereignty of our God. We ALL deserve judgement, and we will ALL stand before God to be judged. But there is hope—a hope secured by Jesus—that those who follow Christ will be delivered. We looked at last week how important it was, then, to be deliverable. We must fully trust in God’s gift of salvation—his gift of grace—that He alone did everything for us. Jesus drank the cup divine wrath completely. There is not a drop left for those who believe in him. Because of Christ and Christ alone, when we stand before God to be judged, God will see Christ’s righteousness and deliver us to a place marked by deliverance and holiness. But this good news should not be kept to ourselves. In this NOT YET phase, we must humbly proclaim the Gospel as we await the day of the Lord.
XXVI. Finally, in the final verses of Obadiah, we are taught what the kingdom of the Lord looks like. This kingdom will be marked by Peace, it will be a Place, it will be occupied by God’s People, and we will see the manifest Presence of God himself. In this NOT YET phase, We must humbly trust in the promise of the FULFILLED kingdom of the Lord.
XXVII. Our third point is that Obadiah teaches us how to live in the NOT YET phase. How do we live in the NOT YET phase? We must humbly trust in God alone for our security. We must humbly and actively serve our neighbors. We must humbly proclaim the Gospel as we await the day of the Lord. And we must humbly trust in the promise of the FULFILLED kingdom of God. Instead of pride, we must humbly trust.
XXVIII. This means that in the midst of a contentious election, prayer is so important. To turn to God and not only admit that He is in control, but to fervently pray that He would guide those who are making decisions and that truth would reign. Humbly trusting in God alone means that if a diagnosis comes… that knocks the breath out of us… that we turn to God in prayer and to His word. He seeks to comfort us and to walk with us through our diagnosis or the diagnosis of a loved one. Humbly trusting in God alone means that if the harvest doesn’t come in, if the cold hurts the livestock, if the career you loved is eliminated, that we would turn to God in prayer, turn to his word, and rely on the community of people he has gathered into his kingdom—meaning, the church. We were never meant to go through life alone. We need to rely on each other and extend grace and compassion to one another. Because we humbly trust God, we should humbly trust his people. And finally, humbly trusting in God alone means that when the world sets up every obstacle to hinder the proclamation of the Gospel and the making of disciples, we move forward praying that God would remove those obstacles. We turn to God and trust in him. We must humbly trust in God alone for our security.
XXIX. We live in the NOT YET phase right now, but this will not always be the case. Followers of Christ have an assured hope that they will spend an eternity with God in heaven. And heaven is an incredible place. Revelations 21:3-4 says this, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
XXX. No more death. No more good-byes. No more grief. No more sorrow. No more sin. And no more pain. In Heaven, we will walk on streets of gold beside a crystal sea. In Heaven, there will be a family reunion. We will be reunited with those who have gone on before us. In Heaven, we will experience peace that is beyond comprehension. We will finally see the great love of God in all of its glory. Most importantly, we will be with Jesus. And the kingdom shall be the Lord’s.