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Commentary On Joel Amos Obadiah by Jean Calvin

Obadiah 15

15. For the day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.

15. Quia propinquus dies Jehovae super omnes gentes; sicut fecisti fiet tibi; merces tua revertetur in caput tuum.

By saying that the day of Jehovah was nigh upon all nations, the Prophet may be regarded as reasoning from the greater to the less: |If God will not spare other nations, how canst thou escape his hand?| In a like manner does Jeremiah speak in chapter 49, (Jeremiah 49:12) he addresses the Idumeans in these words, Behold, they shall drink of the cup, who have not been by judgment condemned to drink; and shalt thou not taste? by drinking thou shalt drink to the very dregs. He shows then that the Idumeans deserved a double vengeance; for if indeed they were compared with the Assyrians and Chaldeans, the fault of the latter would appear small: the Chaldeans might pretend some causes for the war, they were aliens, they were, in short, professed enemies; but the Idumeans were neighbors and kindred. The same thing might be also said of other nations. But the words may be explained in a simpler manner; and that is, that God would not only take vengeance on one or two nations, but on all. |See,| he says, |a change will take place not only in one corner, but in the whole world. The Lord will thus show that he is the judge of the whole earth. Hence it follows, that the Idumeans also must render an account, for God has resolved to execute judgment on all nations; no one whatever shall be passed by.|

Behold, then, nigh is the day of Jehovah. We have said that the time in which Obadiah prophesied is unknown to us. But it is no matter of wonder that he declares that nigh is the day of Jehovah; for the Lord hastens not after the manner of men; but, at the same time, he knows his own seasons; and this is ever accomplished, that when the ungodly think themselves to be at rest, then sudden destruction overtakes them.

He draws this conclusion, As thou hast done, so shall it be done to thee. There seems, however, to be here an implied comparison between the chastisement of the chosen people and the punishment which shall be inflicted on other nations. When the Idumeans saw that the kingdom of Israel and of Judah was trodden under foot, they thought that the children of Abraham were thus punished because they had despised their own Prophets, because they had become immoral and perverse in the extreme. Thus they exempted themselves and others from punishment. Now the Prophet declares that God had been the judge of his people, but that he is also the judge of the whole world, and that this would quickly be made evident. When, therefore, he says, that nigh was the day of Jehovah, he had, I have no doubt, a regard, as I have already said, to the chastisement of the Church; as though he said, |As God has proved himself to be one who justly punishes sins with respect to Israel and Judah; so also at length he will ascend his tribunal to judge all the nations; no one, therefore, shall escape punishment. All then in their different conditions shall be constrained to give an account of their actions, for the Lord will spare none: and though he has begun with his Church and his own house, yet there will come afterwards the suitable time to take vengeance, when he will extend his hand to punish all heathen nations.| This, seems to me to be the real meaning.

Rightly then does he conclude, As then thou hast done, it shall be done to thee: |Think not that thou shalt be unpunished for having gone against thy brother. It was God's purpose to exhibit an example of his severity towards others, while he spared thee; but thou hast abused his forbearance; for thou mightest have remained quiet at home: the Lord will then repay thee.| And then he subjoins, Thy reward shall recoil, or return, on thine own head Here the Prophet announces what Christ also says

With what measure any one measures, it shall be repaid to him,' (Matthew 7:2.)

This sentence is worthy of being noticed: for when God leaves the innocent to the will of the ungodly, they think that they may do whatever they please with impunity, as though they were the executioners of God. As then they become thus insolent when the Lord spares them, let us take notice of what the Prophet says here, -- that a reward is prepared for every one, and that whatever cruelty the ungodly may exercise, it shall be returned on their own heads. It follows --

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