Winners and Losers
The Bible teaches that all deserve punishment, and that God graciously intervenes in the lives of some, while he allows others to continue in the way in which they choose to go and suffer the consequences. Obadiah illustrates that concept. Both Edom and Israel deserve destruction. For Edom that destruction is permanent, as they justly deserve. For Israel, there is a period of punishment, but they will be restored.
The Edomites were the descendants of Esau. They felt very secure because their capital, Petra, was a seemingly secure city carved out of the rock at the top of the cliff. “The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock” (v. 3). But when God opposes people because of their sin, military security is of no avail. When Jerusalem was plundered, the Edomites joined in the plunder. We must not have “an eye for an eye” attitude, but perfect justice is for people to get exactly what they have given to others. “As you have done, it shall be done to you” (v. 15). God dealt with Edom in justice in the day of the Lord about which the prophets never tired of speaking.
Not so with Israel; it also deserved destruction. But having punished it for a time, God then restored it. This was grace, undeserved mercy. So also with us who are saved by Christ: we experience grace.