Eyes That See

“I Once Was Blind”

Obadiah Continued, and My Redemptive History Crazy Chiasm Idea.

This is continued from my post “Intro to Chiasms; Obadiah.”

If you were to ask my friends Porterhouse and V.M.P., they would probably tell you that I am O.C.D. when it comes to chiasms and typology.  So I think I should say that the chiasm is not at all the most important thing about the book of Obadiah.  The author clearly meant for it to be read from start to finish, so I think that if there is anything to the chiasm that I see there, then it is only helpful inasmuch as it helps us understand it in its natural flow from start to finish.

In the last post, I cut off after discussing up to verse 15, which I think is the main verse of the book of Obadiah.  I think that the chiasm works to highlight this verse by the first two sections and the last two sections pointing us towards the third and middle section, and by the middle section building forward to its last verse, 15. 

For the day of the LORD is near upon all the nations. As you have done, it shall be done to you; your deeds shall return on your own head. -Obadiah 1:15

In this post I would like to discuss how I think the chiasm helps us to understand Obadiah as it flows from start to finish.  I would also like to discuss a mystery that Obadiah leaves us with.  Last but not least, I would like to share a crazy thought that I had a while back in answer to the thought “why are chiasms prominent in the O.T.?”

So from start to finish, I think that Obadiah works something like this:  The first section- verses 1 through 4- establish the sovereignty of God over the nations and their armies.  The second section- verses 5 through 7- tell of the harsh judgment that the Lord promises Edom.  The third and middle section- verses 8 through 15- tell us of the “day of the Lord” in the immediate context (when Edom suffers the just punishment for its crimes) and points us to the ultimate “day of the Lord” (when the nations are judged and their deeds return on their own heads).  From there we see the Lord’s promise of mercy to Israel in the fourth section- verses 16 through 18- and the sovereignty of God over the land as He promises possession of it to His people in the fifth section- verses 19-21.

The problem that I have is in the fourth section, where God promises mercy to Israel.  God is God, and He can promise mercy to whom He pleases (Exodus 33:19, Romans 9:15).  But as I read the promise of mercy to Israel, I can’t help but think of the innumerable examples of the wickedness of Israel in the Old Testament.  Maybe saying that “I have” a problem is a bit misleading, since I also have a solution.  Maybe I should use the past tense there, but oh well.  The problem that I have/had is that Israel is no less wicked than Edom, but Edom is promised that “every man from Mt. Esau will be cut off by slaughter” (v. 9), “you will be cut off forever” (v. 10) and “there shall be no survivor for the house of Esau” (v. 18).  Conversely, Israel is promised only temporary judgment (v. 16), that they will possess their possessions (v. 17), and that they will be the burner rather than the burnee (v. 18).

So how do we get on the Israel side of that whole thing, rather than the Edom side?  By believing and repenting.  The Old Testament’s promised Messiah has come, and Paul tells us that everybody who confesses with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believes in their heart that God raised Him from the dead becomes spiritual Israel.  So, although we are all just as wicked as both Israel and Edom, we can have the possessions promised to Israel if we believe in Jesus and repent of our sins.  By His sinless life He became our spotless Lamb.  By His death we have eternal life.  By His righteousness we stand righteous before God.  Resign the folly of sin and turn to enter the joy of our Master.  He created you and every pleasure that you desire.  He knows you better than you know yourself.  He longs to satisfy you and does not want you to perish.  But your sins against His glory stand in the way.  Believe in Jesus and repent of your sins, and they will be covered by His precious blood and cast away from you as far as the east is from the west!

Briefly, my crazy chiasm idea:  Chiasms function to highlight something in the middle by corresponding outer sections.  The first and last sections correspond, and as the sections move towards the middle each closer section matches its opposite.  For example if there are five sections, then one and five will correspond and two and four will corresponds, with the main point highlighted by this pattern in the middle section.  Chiasms are somewhat prominent in the Old Testament, and I started thinking of possible reasons for that.  One possibility that I considered was that maybe all of redemptive history has been/is/will be a chiasm.  God is the ultimate author of the Bible, and this could be one possible reason for the prominence of chiasms.  The centrality of the Cross supports this hypothesis.  As does the Old Testament pointing forward to Jesus and His Cross and the New Testament pointing back to Them.  So from this thought I started thinking of ways that redemptive history has chiastically corresponding events before and after Jesus.

Some thoughts:  The way that prophecy ceased before and after Jesus highlights Him and that period.  The 400 year “intertestamental” period (between the OT and NT) in a way corresponds with the cessation of prophecy and of adding to the canon after the apostles.  There was prophecy before the intertestamentalperiod, so for this to work chiastically we would have to assume that we are in a period that matches the intertestamental and that prophecy will resume at some point to match the prophecy of the OT. 

I also thought about, but didn’t really look into, possible correspondence between the time in Egypt and the end times.  There may be some correspondence between the slavery and deliverance, as well as that the Lord will build up the antichrist to show the glory of God the same way that He did with the Pharaoh.  Superpower, built-up leader, slavery, and deliverance at the end to correspond with those things in Egypt at the beginning of redemptive history…?

The prosperity of the Old Testament’s end times or latter days and the New Testament’s second coming are often described with Edenic language. 

With all of that together, could it be that redemptive history shall travel from Eden to superpower/evil leader/slavery/deliverance to prophecy to silence to prophecy before Messiah (John the Baptist)/the Messiah/prophecy after the Messiah (apostles) to silence (to prophecy?) to superpower/evil leader/slavery/deliverance to Eden?


June 6, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. I got it!

    Comment by Gramzee | June 7, 2008 | Reply

  2. […] More on Obadiah I recently blogged a bit about Obadiah (here and here). […]

    Pingback by More on Obadiah « Eyes That See | July 20, 2008 | Reply

  3. Fun thoughts!

    I think regarding why Israel and not Edom that though it does have to do with faith and repentance, it was for the faith of Abraham and maybe David that Israel was not destroyed – God had promised Abraham that through him all the nations of the earth would be blessed = Christ, and that the eternal king would be from David’s line. It was for Abraham’s sake God had called them His firstborn nation!
    Israel as a whole probably won’t show signs of true repentance until they look upon the one whom they crucified, possibly when God’s bride drives them to jealousy! – Rom.11:11,12….
    “But if their slipping away is the riches of the world, and their default is the riches of the nations, how much more their fullness?”

    Comment by Ben | November 19, 2009 | Reply

  4. Also Deut. 32:21 regarding provoking to jealousy 🙂

    Comment by Ben | November 19, 2009 | Reply

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