17 But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.
18 And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it.
19 And they of the south shall possess the mount of Esau; and they of the plain the Philistines: and they shall possess the fields of Ephraim, and the fields of Samaria: and Benjamin shall possess Gilead.
20 And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto   Zarephath; and the captivity of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the south.
21 And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD’S.

One of the great themes of Scripture is the promise of the restoration of the Jewish people back to the land of Israel and the establishment of the nation of Israel as the head of the nations in the future Messianic kingdom. David Larsen comments:

“The whole bulk of Old Testament prophecy points to the establishment of a kingdom of peace upon earth when the law will go forth from Mount Zion (Isaiah 2:1-4; Micah 4:2-5).” 1

The previous 7 verses of this book show the curse of anti-Semitism upon nations when they embrace a hatred for Israel and Jewish people. The culmination of this hatred is the destruction of these countries in the future seven-year Tribulation period. The conclusion of this brief, but weighty book reveals what logically, when one understands God’s promises to Israel and the Jewish people, follows the anti-Semitism of nations, where God establishes His kingdom on earth with Messiah reigning in Jerusalem and Israel restored as the head of the nations.

Verse seventeen establishes three truths about what God will accomplish. The first is that deliverance comes from Zion. There are several deliverances that will take place. Zion coupled with the word deliverance is often used to speak of Messiah, His redemption, and the salvation of the remnant of Israel.

And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD,” Isaiah 59:20.

I bring near my righteousness; it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory,” Isaiah 46:13.

And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call,” Joel 2:32.

And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob,” Romans 11:26.

All the above references refer to the ultimate redemption of Israel at the second coming. The time that Jesus returns to earth, destroys the nations of the world, saves the remnant of Jewish people, and establishes His millennial kingdom.

When Jesus returns at the end of the seven-year Tribulation period, the surviving 1/3 of world Jewry (Zechariah 13:9) looks upon Him, Jesus, whom they have pierced (Zechariah 12:10) and the 1,000 year Messianic kingdom is established. The first deliverance Obadiah speaks of is certainly spiritual when Israel, the entire nation, is born (again) in a day (Isaiah 66:8; Romans 11:26). But the deliverance of Israel, I believe, embraces several other elements. One of these is being delivered from the nations trying to annihilate her (Zechariah 14:2-3). Other deliverances take us back to the beginning chapters of Genesis.

In the beginning of time, God ruled over the affairs of men, what we refer to as a theocracy. Although the world’s population was initially very small, only Adam and Eve, they were given dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:28). They were also living in a perfect environment. When Adam and Eve sinned against God in Eden the course of history changed.

Three basic facts in God’s creation of man and this world introduce us to a further deliverance. With the completion of creation on the sixth day, Adam and Eve lived in a theocracy. They were given dominion over the entirety of God’s creation, and they were created in a perfect environment. Satan’s temptation of Eve, and her and Adam’s sin, resulted in the loss of the theocracy. Man’s dominion was lost with Satan becoming the god of this world (1 John 5:19; John 16:11; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4; Ephesians 6:12; Luke 4:5-7), and nature and man were placed under a curse (Genesis 3:17-19).

It is only the work of Messiah, through the flow of redemptive history, that the three things lost in the garden of Eden will be restored. The theocratic rule over the entire earth will be restored when Jesus returns (Zechariah 14:9; Revelation 11:15; Isaiah 2:2-4, 11:6-9). At that time Jesus crushes Satan and destroys his rule of this world (Revelation 20:1-3). And the world is restored to the condition it was prior to the fall of man (Matthew 19:28;         Acts 3:21). Deliverance would certainly seem to embrace the reversal of these three realities lost in the Garden of Eden as the result of sin.

The second result will be holiness. Holy (holiness) is the Hebrew word qodesh and has the meaning of set apart, different, distinct and has an intrinsically sacred or spiritual use. Consider some of the uses of holy:

And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation…,” Exodus 19:6.

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy,” Exodus 20:8.

Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the LORD our God is holy,” Psalm 99:9.

Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city;…,” Isaiah 52:1.

In the kingdom reign of Jesus everything will be set apart for His purpose. Everything will have an intrinsically spiritual purpose. The entire world will be holy.

“In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the LORD’S house shall be like the bowls before the altar.  Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the LORD of hosts: and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein: and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts,” Zechariah 14:20-21.

The third truth is that Israel shall possess what God has promised them. Scripture has at least 170 references to the land that God gave to the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God promised the land of Israel to the Jews as an unconditional covenant – 55 times the Bible records that God confirmed the gift with an oath. Twelve of those times He stated that the covenant was everlasting. The boundaries of the Promised Land are identified in Scripture.

In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates,” Genesis 15:18.

And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince forever,” Ezekiel 37:25.

Israel will be a consuming fire in the hands of God, verse 18, with Esau (representing the Gentile nations) as the stubble. Before the Lord comes to destroy the nations of the world (Revelation 19:11-21), He will make Israel an indestructible fighting force.

In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them,” Zechariah 12:8.

Verses 19 and 20 reinforce that the Jewish people will possess the land promised to them that was stolen by the nations. Amos tells us:

And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God,” Amos 9:14-15.

One of the more difficult verses is verse 21: “saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau.” Are the “saviours” (deliverers) those who help destroy the nations of the world. Remember, from verse 15 on, these verses are speaking of the end time “day of the Lord.” And Zechariah tells us of that time:

In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem,” Zechariah 12:6.

If this is the case, it parallels Zechariah 12:8.

But perhaps the “deliverers” who judge “the mount of Esau” is referencing the kingdom that is established after the destruction of the nations and the return of the Jews to the land of Israel as the verse (and book) closes with the phrase the kingdom shall be the LORD’S. If so, then these are those who rule with Jesus in the millennial kingdom over the nations of the world. And Daniel tells us that saints will rule in the kingdom.

Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom,” Daniel 7:22.

Although not being dogmatic it would seem the sequence of verses 15-21 would suggest the latter understanding is correct.


Obadiah concludes his book with a theme – the restoration of the Jews to the land of Israel and the establishment of the Messianic kingdom – that is one of the most repeated realities of the Scripture. As Dr. Paul Lee Tan noted:

“When discussing the millennium, the literal interpreter, encounters a peculiar hardship, not of searching for, but of sifting through mountains of millennial prophecies.”2

The destiny of the Jewish people is secure. The destruction of the nations of the world is certain. One day, Jesus will be ruling from Jerusalem over the world during His 1,000-year reign. Come, Lord Jesus!

End Notes

1 Larsen, David, Jews, Gentiles, & the Church, Discovery House Publisher, pages 310-311, 1995.

2 Tan, Paul Lee, The Interpretation of Prophecy, Assurance Publishers, page 152, 1974.