Obadiah 1:10-14 Yahweh is Sovereign

This is the sixth lesson in a series of lessons on the book of Obadiah. In this lesson I show that Obadiah illustrates the sovereignty of Yahweh.

Watch the video or scroll down to read a transcript.


Thanks for visiting Bible Mountain. This is the sixth lesson in a series of lessons on the book of Obadiah. In this lesson, I’m going to look at verses 10 through 14 and talk about the sovereignty of Yahweh. 

Wikipedia has this definition of sovereign: “Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories.”

When we talk about the sovereignty of Yahweh, we mean that Yahweh is the highest leader. He’s the highest authority. Nobody can tell Yahweh what to do. Nobody can prevent Him from doing anything that He wants to do. 

The book of Obadiah can be roughly divided into three sections. The first section is the first nine verses and that tells us that Edom was going to be punished. The second section is verses 10 through 14. That tells us why Edom was going to be punished. The third section is verses 15 through 21. That focuses on future things, the end times, how the conflict between Jacob and Esau would come to an end.  

In this lesson, I’m going to focus on the middle section. This is the section that tells us why Edom was going to be punished. In seeing why Edom was going to be punished, we see an illustration of the sovereignty of Yahweh. 

What I’m going to do in this lesson is start by looking at verses in Genesis which tell us about the beginnings of Jacob and Esau. Then I’m going to read Obadiah and see the punishment that was declared upon Edom and also the reason why Edom was going to be punished and we’ll see how that illustrates the sovereignty of Yahweh. Then at the end, I’m going to read some verses from Malachi and Romans which state very explicitly that Yahweh is sovereign. 

Gen. 25:21 Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD answered him and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If it is so, why then am I this way?” So she went to inquire of the LORD.

23 The LORD said to her, 

“Two nations are in your womb; 

And two peoples will be separated from your body; 

And one people shall be stronger than the other; 

And the older shall serve the younger.”

We see here that Yahweh told Rebecca she was going to have two sons and the older would serve the younger. Yahweh made this decision before the boys were even born.

Gen. 25:24 When her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25 Now the first came forth red, all over like a hairy garment; and they named him Esau. 26 Afterward his brother came forth with his hand holding on to Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob; and Isaac was sixty years old when she gave birth to them.

We see in these verses the birth of Esau and Jacob. We see that Yahweh declared before they were born that Esau the older would serve Jacob the younger.

Gen. 25:29 When Jacob had cooked stew, Esau came in from the field and he was famished; 30 and Esau said to Jacob, “Please let me have a swallow of that red stuff there, for I am famished.” Therefore his name was called Edom. 31 But Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.” 32 Esau said, “Behold, I am about to die; so of what use then is the birthright to me?” 33 And Jacob said, “First swear to me”; so he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. 

Let me draw attention to the fact that Esau sold his birthright to Jacob.

Gen. 25:34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew; and he ate and drank, and rose and went on his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

Esau sold his birthright to Jacob. 

Gen. 27:1   Now it came about, when Isaac was old and his eyes were too dim to see, that he called his older son Esau and said to him, “My son.” And he said to him, “Here I am.” 2 Isaac said, “Behold now, I am old and I do not know the day of my death. 3 “Now then, please take your gear, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me; 4 and prepare a savory dish for me such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, so that my soul may bless you before I die.”

We see here that Isaac intended to bless Esau. Whether Isaac did not know that Esau had sold his birthright to Jacob, or if Isaac was just ignoring that fact, we don’t know. The Bible doesn’t tell us. However, let me point out that Isaac’s intent was to bless Esau. Keep in mind, Yahweh had said the older would serve the younger, and to a certain extent, giving a blessing to the older would have been contradicting what Yahweh said was really going to happen. Let’s continue reading. 

Gen. 27:5   Rebekah was listening while Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game to bring home, 6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Behold, I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, saying, 7 ‘Bring me some game and prepare a savory dish for me, that I may eat, and bless you in the presence of the LORD before my death.’ 8 “Now therefore, my son, listen to me as I command you. 9 “Go now to the flock and bring me two choice young goats from there, that I may prepare them as a savory dish for your father, such as he loves. 10 “Then you shall bring it to your father, that he may eat, so that he may bless you before his death.”

We see in these verses that Isaac was old and ready to bless his son. He intended to bless Esau. Rebecca conspired to have Isaac bless Jacob instead. Her deception was successful. Isaac did indeed bless Jacob. Here is the blessing with which Isaac blessed Jacob, 

Gen. 27:28 Now may God give you of the dew of heaven, 

And of the fatness of the earth, 

And an abundance of grain and new wine;

29 May peoples serve you, 

And nations bow down to you; 

Be master of your brothers, 

And may your mother’s sons bow down to you. 

Cursed be those who curse you, 

And blessed be those who bless you.”

Part of the blessing was that Isaac said that Jacob would be master over his brothers. His mother’s sons would bow down to him, which meant the older would indeed serve the younger. Esau would serve Jacob. 

Notice the last two lines. That was a promise that Yahweh had given to Abraham. Yahweh told Abraham that anyone who blessed him would be blessed and anyone who cursed him would be cursed. We see that through this blessing, Isaac gave that same promise to Jacob. Anyone who blessed Jacob would be blessed, and anyone who cursed Jacob would be cursed. Keep in mind it is the younger son who received that promise, not the older.

That is the blessing Isaac gave to Jacob. After the blessing, Esau came in from the field and Isaac and Esau discovered that Isaac had been tricked into giving the blessing to Jacob instead of Esau. Esau still wanted a blessing and he begged for a blessing, but Isaac had nothing left to give Esau. This is what Isaac said to Esau. 

Gen. 27:39    Then Isaac his father answered and said to him, 

“Behold, away from the fertility of the earth shall be your dwelling, 

And away from the dew of heaven from above.

40 “By your sword you shall live, 

And your brother you shall serve; 

But it shall come about when you become restless, 

That you will break his yoke from your neck.”

We see here that Isaac told Esau very bluntly that Esau would serve his younger brother Jacob. That is just as Yahweh had told Rebecca it would be. Isaac also said there was going to be a point in time when Esau would break free from under his brother. We’ll see the fulfillment of that in verses we’re going to read later. 

There was not a blessing for Esau. Instead, Esau was told that he would serve his younger brother Jacob. 

After the blessing, Jacob and Esau separated. Jacob stayed in the land that had been promised to Abraham and Isaac. Esau, meanwhile, moved southeast into an area of land that is today part of the country of Jordan. 

After that Jacob and his descendants moved to Egypt because of a famine. They were there for 400 years. During that time, the descendants of Jacob became the Israelites. The descendants of Esau became the Edomites. Eventually, Moses came along and led the Israelites out of Egypt. He led them to Mount Sinai and gave them the Mosaic law. 

They wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, and then it was time for the Israelites to return to the promised land. They had to travel around Edom, but eventually they got to the promised land. 

They were in the Promised Land for several hundred years without a king. Every man did what was right in his own eyes. Eventually, David became king. We read the following about David and Edom. 

2Sam. 8:13   So David made a name for himself when he returned from killing 18,000 Arameans in the Valley of Salt. 14 He put garrisons in Edom. In all Edom he put garrisons, and all the Edomites became servants to David. And the LORD helped David wherever he went.

This was a fulfillment of the promise that Esau would serve Jacob. The descendants of Esau were the Edomites. The descendants of Jacob were the Israelites. David was king of the Israelites. We see here that the Edomites served David, an Israelite; thus, in this way, Esau was serving Jacob. 

David’s descendants ruled as kings for several generations. Eventually, we read the following in 2 Kings.

2Kings 8:20   In his days Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah, and made a king over themselves.

22 So Edom revolted against Judah to this day.

This was a fulfillment of what Isaac had said to Esau, that when Esau became restless, he would break the yoke of Jacob from upon his neck. Edom revolted against Judah and did not have to serve Judah. 

That brings us to the book of Obadiah. Let’s read the first nine verses of Obadiah and see that punishment was decreed upon Obadiah

Obadiah 1:1  A vision of Obadiah: Thus said Yahweh my Lord to Edom. We heard a report from Yahweh, and an envoy was sent among the nations, “Arise and let us stand against her for war. 2 Behold, I made you small among the nations. You were very despised. 3 The pride of your heart deceived you, the one dwelling in the clefts of the rock, saying in his heart in the height of his seat, ‘Who can send me down to the earth?’ 4 Even if you are soaring as high as an eagle and even if your nest is placed among the stars, from there I will send you down”, declares Yahweh. 

Obadiah 1:5 If thieves came to you, those devastating at night, how would you be ruined? Would they not steal only enough for them? If gatherers came to you, would they not leave some gleanings? 6 How will Esau be searched? His hidden treasures will be grazed bare. 7 All the men who signed your agreement will send you as far as the border. The men at peace with you will deceive you and have power over you. They will set an ambush against you for your food. There is no understanding in him.

Obadiah 1:8 “Will I not on that day,” declares Yahweh, “destroy wisdom from Edom and understanding from Esau?” 9 Then your mighty ones will be dismayed, Teman, in order that each man will be cut off from the mountain of Esau by slaughter. 

Those verses contain a declaration that Esau was going to be destroyed. The next group of verses tell us why Edom was going to be destroyed.

Obadiah 1:10 Because of violence to your brother Jacob, shame smothers you and you will be cut off forever. 11 In the day you stood far off, and in the day strangers captured his wealth and foreigners came to his gate and cast lots over Jerusalem, you also were as one of them. 

Obadiah 1:12 Do not gaze in your brother’s day at the day of his misfortune, and do not rejoice over the sons of Judah in the day of their destruction. Do not let your mouth boast in the day of distress. 13 Do not enter the gate of My people in the day of their calamity. Also you, do not gaze at his misfortune in the day of his calamity. Do not take away his wealth in the day of his calamity. 14 Do not stand over the crossroads to cut off his fugitives and do not capture his survivors in the day of distress. 

Edom was punished because they participated in plundering the Israelites. David and the Israelites were not punished when they turned the Edomites into servants. However, the Edomites were punished when they plundered the Israelites.

What we see in all this is that Yahweh favored Jacob over Esau. That favoritism started back before the boys were even born. When the boys were still in the womb, Yahweh told Rebecca the older would serve the younger. This is an illustration of Yahweh’s sovereignty. He chose one over the other, not because the one did anything good or bad, but He made that choice simply because He is Yahweh and He can do anything He wants. 

Now let’s look at some verses to see this stated very explicitly.

Mal. 1:1    The oracle of the word of the LORD to Israel through Malachi.

Mal. 1:2   “I have loved you,” says the LORD. But you say, “How have You loved us?” “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the LORD. “Yet I have loved Jacob; 3 but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness.”

This states that Yahweh favored Jacob over Esau. We also see this stated explicitly in the book of Romans.

Rom. 9:10 And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; 11 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, 12 it was said to her, “THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER.” 13 Just as it is written, “JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED.”

Rom. 9:14   What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

This is a clear statement that Yahweh is sovereign. Nobody can force Yahweh to do anything He does not want to do. Nobody can prevent Yahweh from doing something He wants to do. Yahweh is the highest power, the highest authority. The book of Obadiah helps to illustrate this because the book of Obadiah tells us about Edom. The story of Jacob and Esau is one of the stories throughout the Bible that the Bible uses to teach the sovereignty of Yahweh. Obadiah is part of that story because it tells us that Edom was punished because they plundered the Israelites. That was wrong because Yahweh favored the Israelites over the Edomites. 

The lesson out of all this for us is that Yahweh also has sovereignty over our lives. Just as He chose Jacob over Esau, so too Yahweh can make those kinds of choices today. He can favor one person over another. 

As all of us go through life, we face various things that are not fair. We face obstacles. Some people have things that we don’t have. Some people don’t have obstacles that we have. Life is not fair, but we have to keep in mind that ultimately Yahweh is the One who made the choice of who has what. Any unfairness we see in our lives is the result of decisions that Yahweh made.

Yahweh is the Creator. It is His right to make those decisions. We are mere servants of Yahweh. We are here to serve Him. Amidst the unfairness of life and amidst the obstacles of life, our role is to serve Yahweh to the best of our ability and accept the fact that Yahweh has a reason for the choices that He makes. It is our role and duty to serve Him. 

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Scripture quotations from Obadiah taken from a translation by Bible Mountain.

“All other Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®,
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973,
1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission.” (www.Lockman.org

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