“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.” Obadiah 15 NASB
Done – Obadiah is a tiny book in the Old Testament. Only 21 verses long, it is the description of a vision given to the prophet Obadiah. In this verse, the same Hebrew word is used twice. The word asah means “to do” or “to make.” It has both a general sense and a special ethical sense. In the general sense, it can be used in any context where a creative action takes place (to make, fashion, accomplish or do). But when it is used to describe God’s acts in history, it emphasizes God’s complete control of the temporal span. God is both the creator of all life and the controller of all living. Everything works toward His purposes. His will is going to be done, no matter what. The only question for us is this: Are we cooperating with His will or inhibiting it?
This word is used extensively in the Genesis account of creation. However, it is never used to describe a creative act that brings something entirely new into existence (for example, the creation of the heavens and earth or of light). It is only used to describe objects and beings that are formed from something else (for example, it is used to describe the formation of Havvah from Adam). This difference is critical. It clearly shows that God’s creative acts fall into two categories. God’s creations are not simply extensions of something that already existed. When God started creating, nothing else existed at all.
Obadiah reminds us of something else that belongs to the realm of God’s actions in our history – the exercise of judgment. Notice that this verse is the reverse of the Golden Rule: What you have done to others will be done to you. There is a flipside to salvation. Judgment is coming, says God. It is inevitable and inescapable. Your life and mine will come under the microscope of God’s holiness. What we have done to others will become our own fate.
This is chilling and frightening. How many acts of deception, hostility, revenge, unfaithfulness, insensitivity, anger, jealousy, envy, greed or harm have I perpetrated on others, willfully or not? How will I survive Judgment Day when all of my own self-centeredness is distilled into a poison vile and offered for me to drink? Thank God, literally, that Yeshua’s atonement settled the account for me. I don’t have to fear Judgment, but I do have to live in the light of judgment. Setting aside the verdict of condemnation does not mean that God has no expectations. Obadiah pushes us toward Yeshua’s parable of the unmerciful debtor (Matthew 18:23 ff). Worthiness is still a matter of concern. God forgive me, I desperately need it.
Topical Index: Obadiah 15, Judgment Day, Matthew 18:23