PetraOne of the smallest of the OT prophetic books at only 21 verses, Obadiah brings a clear succinct message to the people of the nation of Edom. Edom had been an enemy of Israel since her beginning, even standing by with a grin on their faces as Jerusalem was sacked by the Babylonians. For this (and other grave sins), God sent the Prophet Obadiah to pronounce His judgment upon the nation of Edom.

Edom was known for many things, but possibly the most infamous was the city of Petra. Hewn out of solid rock, this desert fortress was considered by many to be impenetrable. To understand a bit about this famous stronghold, check out this brief description by Finis Dakes:

“Petra, the rock hewn stronghold capital of Edom, is mentioned several times in Scripture as the rock. Today it is referred to as the silent city of the forgotten past and the rose-colored city, half as old as time. It lies halfway between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba. It has one weird approach through a deep rock cleft 6,000 ft long. Its temples, numbering nearly 1000, cut into the rock of the great cliffs surrounding the whole city; it’s high places, courts, libation basins, and altars where the ancients worshipped; and its amazing color of all shades of red are exceedingly interesting. It has places of defense where one man could hold against an army. It has over 1000 monuments showing the influences of several races; an open theater seating 6000; many runlets, aqueducts, basins, reservoirs, and cisterns where water has been stored in times of siege; and several springs supplying water for the city.

For centuries Petra was a rich caravan city where merchandise of many nations was brought in and taken out by caravans to all parts of the earth. Goods were brought for storage in Petra, and re-routed to Arabia, Africa, India, and other lands. The city was so important that the Romans made two roads to tap its wealth. When Rome fell, its doom was sealed and Petra was abandoned save for a few desert tribesman. It passed unnoticed by the civilized world for more than 1000 years. In 1812, John Lewis Burckhardt, disguised as a Bedouin sheik, reached it and returned to tell of its mysteries. It had then become sacred to the Arabs and danger menaced any infidel who approached, until the country was open to travel by the British in World War I.”

For the Edomites, this strategic city was a sense of pride. That is why Obadiah declares, “The pride of your heart has deceived you, you dweller in the refuges of the rock, whose habitation is high, who says in his heart, Who can bring me down to the ground?” (Obadiah 1:3). As Obadiah prophesied, much to the shock of those alive in that day, Petra “The Rock” would eventually become a byword. “As you have done (to Israel), it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head” (Obadiah 1:15).

It can be very tempting to ignore the Word of the Lord when it seems to be delayed in coming to pass, but let me encourage you to not follow the fateful path of those who have walked before us. God’s Word will be completely fulfilled in its due time. What appears rock-solid and secure one day may very well be an abandoned tourist attraction the next.

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”Isaiah 40:8 AMP


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