The exiles of this host of the people of Israel shall possess the land of the Canaanites as far as Zarephath, and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad shall possess the cities of the Negeb. Ob 1:20
Ok, what is he up to with this verse? It is two or three words that caught my attention here. Granted, Obadia is talking about Israel coming back from Babylon, where they were in exile. But then, the old testament is a sign and shadow of the new. The history of Israel is strangely and marvelously paralleled by the history of the church.
The history of Israel starts with Passah and continues in Pentecost, just like the churches history.
But today, I am interested in the time of the exile and the return of Israel to the promised land.
About three hundred years after Christ the church decided to go into exile, and it took quite some time until God started to restore all truth. He started with Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin. Salvation through faith only. Sola fide.
But what has all this to do with our verse?
Well, let’s look at the names of the cities. Zarpat – in our translation Zarephath – and Negev.
Zarpat means refinement, while Negev means to have thirst.
The children of God are to take the land from the traders as far as refinement, and the children of the church that are separated shall posses the cities where they are thirsty.
Traders – Canaanites – reminds me of the traders in the temple that Jesus drove out. They had taken over the temple, just as the Canaanites had taken the promised land. And Sepharad means to be separated. Separated from their inheritance, from the land that was theirs.
Ok. The children of God, the church, were exiled and separated from their inheritance. But then they were brought back to the promised land that had been taken by the traders, the ones that turned religion into a trade, a way to make money and to secure power.
They came back to certain places. Let’s take a closer look.
Zarpat. This is where Elijah helped the widow and where God provided for both of them, even her son. Oil and flour does not stop. Oil – the holy spirit. Flour – provision. Bread – Jesus Christ.
But Zarpat also means refinement.
And the Negev. A dry place where you get thirsty.
God lead them back to a place of provision, a place of the Holy Spirit, a place in Christ, based on the work of Jesus on the cross. A place of teaching, as we do not live by bread alone, but every word from the mouth of Christ. It is a place of refinement and thirst for more.
Did you realize that the people of Jerusalem were brought back to the Negev – but not to Jerusalem? They were back in the promised land, but not in the city of God. They were not the bride. Hey, that is quite a jump you make there, you say. But the New Jerusalem is the bride. Adorned for the marriage feast of the Lord.
So, we have teaching. We believe in the provision of God. We experience the work, fruit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. As our foundation we have Jesus and his work on the cross. We are a host – an army, a team working together each in his own gifting. With government, in authority and power.
But we need refinement. And we have thirst for more. Why? Because we are in a dry place. Look around – the river flowing through us is but a trickle. At least, I expect a lot more! Don’t you?
The refinement of this time we are in will pave the way to Jerusalem. The thirst of the dry place we are at will lead us to the river that flows from the Holy of Holies in Jerusalem.
Saviors shall go up to Mount Zion to rule Mount Esau, and the kingdom shall be the Lord’s. Ob 1:21
The ones that undergo the refinement, the ones that are thirsty, will become saviors – they will not become the savior, that is Jesus, but they will become representatives, sent ones of Jesus. We probably are the only Jesus some will ever see. We are Christ, he the head and we the body. Mount Zion, the temple mount, the most holy place in Jerusalem, the elect and chosen people, the true sons of God. We will rule the world, symbolized in Mount Esau, and Jesus will possess all authority and power. The kingdoms of this world belong to the Lord.
This has come true on the cross. And we now start to believe it. We have found the place of refinement. We have found the dry place. We are in Zarpat. We are in the Negev.
Where are you? And are you ready to go further?