Jehovah’s Word Is Alive
Highlights From the Books of Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah
“THE vision of Obadiah.” (Obadiah 1) These words begin the Bible book of Obadiah. The prophet reveals nothing about himself except his name in the book that he composed in 607 B.C.E. In a book completed over two centuries earlier, the prophet Jonah candidly relates what he personally experienced in connection with his missionary assignment. The 60 years of Micah’s prophetic activity lie between those of Obadiah and Jonah, stretching from 777 B.C.E. to 717 B.C.E. All that Micah relates about himself is that he is “of [the village] Moresheth” and that Jehovah’s word occurred to him “in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, kings of Judah.” (Micah 1:1) The prophet’s familiarity with rural life is evident in the type of illustrations he uses to stress the points of his message.
EDOM “WILL HAVE TO BE CUT OFF TO TIME INDEFINITE”
Regarding Edom, Obadiah says: “Because of the violence to your brother Jacob, shame will cover you, and you will have to be cut off to time indefinite.” The prophet has fresh in mind the Edomites’ recent acts of violence against the sons of Jacob—the Israelites. In 607 B.C.E., when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem, the Edomites “stood off on the side” and allied themselves with the invading “foreigners.”—Obadiah 10, 11.
In contrast, a restoration is in store for the house of Jacob. Obadiah’s prophecy states: “In Mount Zion is where those escaping will prove to be, and it must become something holy.”—Obadiah 17.
Scriptural Questions Answered:
vs 5-8—What is significant about the comparison of Edom’s destruction to the coming of despoilers by night and of grape gatherers? If thieves had come into Edom, they would have taken only what they wanted. Had harvesters come into her, they would have left behind some of the crop for gleaning. When Edom falls, though, her treasures will be thoroughly searched out and she will be completely plundered by “the very men in covenant with [her]”—her allies, the Babylonians.—Jeremiah 49:9, 10.
vs 10—How was Edom “cut off to time indefinite”? As foretold, the nation of Edom, with a government and people in a specific region of the earth, became extinct. Babylonian King Nabonidus conquered Edom about the middle of the sixth century B.C.E. By the fourth century B.C.E., Edom’s territory was inhabited by the Nabataeans, and the Edomites had to take up residence in the southern part of Judea, the area of the Negeb that later came to be known as Idumea. After the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 C.E., the Edomites ceased to exist.
Lessons for Us:
vs 3, 4. Because they lived in a rugged region of high mountains and deep ravines that offered excellent strategic advantages, the Edomites may presumptuously have deceived themselves into feeling safe and secure. But Jehovah’s judgments are inescapable.
vs 12-14. The Edomites serve as a warning example to those who gloat over the difficulties that God’s servants may encounter. Jehovah does not view the mistreatment of his people lightly.
vs 17-20. This restoration prophecy regarding the sons of Jacob began to be fulfilled when a remnant returned to Jerusalem from Babylon in 537 B.C.E. Jehovah’s word always comes true. We can have full confidence in his promises.
“NINEVEH WILL BE OVERTHROWN”
Instead of obeying God’s command to “go to Nineveh the great city, and proclaim against her” a judgment message, Jonah flees in the opposite direction. By hurling “a great wind at the sea” and by using “a great fish,” Jehovah redirects Jonah and commissions him a second time to go to the Assyrian capital.—Jonah 1:2, 4, 17; 3:1, 2.
Jonah enters Nineveh and proceeds to proclaim a straightforward message: “Only forty days more, and Nineveh will be overthrown.” (Jonah 3:4) The unexpected outcome of his preaching work causes Jonah to become “hot with anger.” Jehovah uses “a bottle-gourd plant” to teach Jonah a lesson in mercy.—Jonah 4:1, 6.
Scriptural Questions Answered:
3:3—Did the size of Nineveh really amount to “a walking distance of three days”? Yes. In ancient times, Nineveh was likely understood to include other settlements stretching from Khorsabad in the north to Nimrud in the south. All the settlements identified with Nineveh form a quadrangle with a circumference of 60 miles [100 km].
3:4—Did Jonah have to learn the Assyrian language in order to preach to the Ninevites? Jonah may already have known the Assyrian language, or he may have miraculously received the ability to speak it. Another possibility is that he delivered his succinct message in Hebrew, with someone interpreting for him. If the latter was the case, his words would have aroused even greater curiosity about his message.
Lessons for Us:
1:1-3. Deliberately scheduling other activities in order to avoid having a full share in the Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work is an indication of a wrong motive. Someone who does so runs away from a God-given assignment, so to speak.
1:17; 2:10; 4:6. Jehovah delivered Jonah from the raging sea. God also “appointed a bottle-gourd plant, that it should come up over Jonah, in order to become a shade over his head, to deliver him from his calamitous state.” Jehovah’s present-day worshippers can trust in their God, and in his loving-kindness, to safeguard and deliver them.—Psalm 13:5; 40:11.
3:8, 10. The true God “felt regret over,” or changed his mind about, the calamity that he had spoken of, and he “did not cause it.” Why? Because the Ninevites “had turned back from their bad way.” Similarly today, God’s adverse judgment can be averted if a sinner manifests genuine repentance.
4:1-4. No human can cause God to put a limit on His mercy. We should be careful not to be critical of Jehovah’s merciful ways.
4:11. Jehovah is patiently having the Kingdom message preached earth wide because—as he did for the 120,000 men in Nineveh—he feels sorry for those “who do not at all know the difference between their right hand and their left.” Should we not feel sorry for the people in our territory and have a zealous share in the Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work?—2 Peter 3:9.
‘THEIR BALDNESS IS TO BE BROADENED OUT’
Micah exposes the sins of Israel and Judah, foretells the desolation of their capitals, and promises restoration. Samaria shall become “a heap of ruins of the field.” Because of their idolatrous course, Israel and Judah deserve “baldness,” or shame. By their being sent into captivity, their baldness is to be broadened out “like that of the eagle”—apparently a type of vulture that has only a few soft hairs on its head. Jehovah promises: “I shall positively gather Jacob.” (Micah 1:6, 16; 2:12) On account of the corrupt leaders and the delinquent prophets, Jerusalem too “will become mere heaps of ruins.” But Jehovah will “collect [his people] together.” Out of “Bethlehem Ephrathah” will come “the one who is to become ruler in Israel.”—Micah 3:12; 4:12; 5:2.
Has Jehovah been unfair to Israel? Are his requirements too severe? No. All that Jehovah asks of his worshippers is that they ‘exercise justice, love kindness, and be modest’ in walking with their God. (Micah 6:8) Micah’s contemporaries, though, have become so bad that “their best one is like a brier, their most upright one is worse than a thorn hedge,” causing hurt and pain to anyone coming near. But the prophet asks: “Who is a God like [Jehovah]?” God will again show mercy to his people and “throw into the depths of the sea all their sins.”—Micah 7:4, 18, 19.
Scriptural Questions Answered:
2:12—When was the prophecy about ‘collecting the remaining ones of Israel’ fulfilled? Its first fulfillment was in 537 B.C.E. when a Jewish remnant returned to their homeland from Babylonian exile. In modern times, the prophecy finds its fulfillment in “the Israel of God.” (Galatians 6:16) Since 1919, anointed Christians have been collected together “like a flock in the pen.” Being joined by the “great crowd” of “other sheep,” especially since 1935, they have become “noisy with men.” (Revelation 7:9; John 10:16) Together, they zealously promote true worship.
4:1-4—“In the final part of the days,” how does Jehovah “render judgment among many peoples, and set matters straight respecting mighty nations”? The expressions “many peoples” and “mighty nations” do not refer to national groups or political entities. Rather, these expressions pertain to individuals out of all the nations who have become Jehovah’s worshippers. Jehovah renders judgment and sets matters straight respecting them in a spiritual way.
Lessons for Us:
1:6, 9; 3:12; 5:2. Samaria was devastated by the Assyrians in 740 B.C.E.—during Micah’s lifetime. (2 Kings 17:5, 6) The Assyrians came as far as Jerusalem during Hezekiah’s reign. (2 Kings 18:13) Jerusalem was set ablaze by the Babylonians in 607 B.C.E. (2 Chronicles 36:19) As prophesied, the Messiah was born in “Bethlehem Ephrathah.” (Matthew 2:3-6) Jehovah’s prophetic word never fails.
3:4. If we want Jehovah to answer our prayers, we must not practice sin or live a double life.
3:8. Our commission to preach the good news, which includes judgment messages, can be fulfilled only if we are strengthened by Jehovah’s holy spirit.
5:5. This Messianic prophecy assures us that when God’s people come under attack by their enemies, “seven [representing completeness] shepherds” and “eight dukes”—a considerable number of capable men—are raised up to take the lead among Jehovah’s people.
5:7, 8. To many people, anointed Christians today are “like dew from Jehovah”—a blessing from God. This is so because he uses the anointed to proclaim the Kingdom message. The “other sheep” help in bringing spiritual refreshment to people by actively supporting the anointed in the preaching work. (John 10:16) What a privilege it is to share in this work, which brings true refreshment to others!
6:3, 4. We should imitate Jehovah God and be kind and compassionate even to those who are hard to get along with or are spiritually weak.
7:7. As we deal with problems at the end of this wicked system of things, we should not become downhearted. Instead, like Micah, we need to “show a waiting attitude for [our] God.”
7:18, 19. As Jehovah is willing to pardon our errors, we should be willing to forgive those who sin against us.
Continue ‘Walking in the Name of Jehovah’
Those who fight against God and his people “will have to be cut off to time indefinite.” (Obadiah 10) However, Jehovah’s anger can be turned back by our heeding the divine warning and ‘turning back from bad ways.’ (Jonah 3:10) “In the final part of the days,” that is, during these “last days,” true worship is being exalted above all false religion and obedient ones are streaming to it. (Micah 4:1; 2 Timothy 3:1) May we therefore be determined to “walk in the name of Jehovah our God to time indefinite, even forever.”—Micah 4:5.
What valuable lessons the books of Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah teach us! Though written over 2,500 years ago, their message “is alive and exerts power,” even today.—Hebrews 4:12.
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Obadiah prophesied: “[Edom] will have to be cut off to time indefinite”
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Micah ‘showed a waiting attitude for Jehovah,’ and so can you
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The preaching work is a privilege to be cherished