Obadiah: Obadiah 20-The Future Remnant of Israel Will Possess the Canaanites’ Territory and Cities of the Negev Lesson # 21
Obadiah 20 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. (ESV)
Obadiah 20 “Furthermore, exiles belonging to this army, namely, the people descended from Israel, will surely take possession of what belongs to the Canaanites as far as Zarephath. Indeed, Jerusalem’s exiles who are located in Sepharad will take possession of the cities of the Negev.” (My translation)
Obadiah 20 contains two more prophetic declarations from the Lord through the prophet Obadiah under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, which are in addition to the six recorded in verse 19.
All six develop the prophecy which appears at the end of verse 17, which predicts that this future remnant of Israel will possess their own land inheritance, which would be a fulfillment of the Palestinian covenant which was a part of the promises of the Abrahamic covenant.
Now, the first prophecy in verse 20 asserts that exiles belonging to this army, namely the people descended from Israel, will surely take possession of what belongs to the Canaanites.
The second asserts that Jerusalem’s exiles who are located in Sepharad will take possession of the cities of the Negev.
Therefore, these two prophesies in verse 20 reveal that in addition to taking possession of the Negev, Shephelah as well as the territories of Ephraim, Samaria and Gilead, this future remnant of Israel during the millennial reign of Jesus Christ will take possession of the territory occupied by the Canaanites as far as Zarephath.
These exiles mentioned in verse 20 are a reference to those Jews who will be exiled from the land of Israel during the last three and a half years of the seventieth week of Daniel because of the persecution waged against them by the Antichrist since this prophecy will be fulfilled during the millennial reign of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, those Jews who will be exiled from Israel during the last three and a half years of the seventieth week of Daniel will return to their homeland at the Second Advent of Jesus Christ.
Then, during His subsequent millennial reign, they will occupy those lands promised to their forefathers by God under the Abrahamic and Palestinian covenants.
Therefore, up to this point in human history, there has been three dispersions of the Jewish people throughout the centuries.
The first dispersion was the result of the Assyrian invasion, the second was the result of the Babylonian invasion and the third was the result of the Roman Empire enslaving the Jews and this last dispersion continued until 1948 when Israel became a nation with borders once again.
In the future, during the tribulation portion of the seventieth week of Daniel, there will be yet another dispersion of the Jewish people from their homeland when Antichrist will persecute the nation of Israel.
Consequently, the Jewish people will be dispersed throughout the earth until Jesus Christ’s Second Advent.
The exiles mentioned in Obadiah 20 will be a part of this fourth dispersion of the Jewish people, which will end with the Second Advent of Jesus Christ.
During the church age, the return from the third dispersion continues with Jews returning to the land of Israel, which is further indicated by the prophecies in verse 18, which assert that the northern and southern kingdom will reunite in the future to destroy Edom as a national entity.
If you recall, the reference to Joseph’s descendants in this verse is a reference to the northern kingdom and Jacob’s descendants is a reference to the southern kingdom.
Never in history have these kingdoms been reunited but they will be during the seventieth week of Daniel, the Second Advent of Christ which ends this seventieth week and during Christ’s subsequent millennial reign on the earth (cf. Jer. 33:7; Ezek. 37:22; Zech. 8:13).
The first prophecy recorded in Obadiah 20 references a place called “Zarephath” which was a Phoenician coastal city located on the Mediterranean coast between Tyre and Sidon and was approximately ten miles south of Sidon and is now called Ras Sarafand.
In Obadiah 20, Zarephath is marked as the original northwest border assignment for the tribe of Asher (cf. Josh. 19:28), which was only occupied by Israel during David’s reign.
The second prophetic declaration recorded in Obadiah 20 advances upon and intensifies upon the first emphasizing the extent to which the Jerusalem’s exiles will travel to return to the land of promise.
“Jerusalem” of course refers to the city of Jerusalem which is located along the central mountain ridge of Palestine, 36 miles east of the Mediterranean and 16 miles west of the northern tip of the Dead Sea and is situated 2100-1500 ft. above sea level in a relatively level plateau of the Benjaminite highlands.
On the east, is the Kidron valley, which separates it from the Mount of Olives and on the west and south by the Hinnom valley.
“Sepharad” was a place north and west of Media south of Lake Urmia, which marked the extent of the Babylonian Empire in Obadiah’s day and age.
The second prophecy in Obadiah 20 asserts that Jerusalem’s exiles from Sepharad will take possession of the cities of the Negev, which as we noted was an arid region of Israel south of the Judean hills and the Shephelah and east of the lower reaches of the Philistine plain.
As was the case with the six prophecies recorded in Obadiah 19, the four which are recorded here in Obadiah 20 are predicting the fulfillment of the Abrahamic and Palestinian covenants and specifically the promises of land to those Jews who exercise faith in the Lord.
These land promises will be completely fulfilled during the millennial reign of Jesus Christ.
The Abrahamic and Palestinian covenants make clear that Israel will inherit a large area of real estate during the millennial reign of Jesus Christ, which includes the lands mentioned in Obadiah 20-21.
The “Palestinian” covenant is in fact an extension of the “Abrahamic” covenant, which is recorded in Genesis 12:1-3 and like the “Abrahamic” covenant, the “Palestinian” covenant that the Lord established with Abram denoted the Lord’s gracious undertaking for the benefit of Abram and his descendants.
Like the “Abrahamic” covenant, the “Palestinian” covenant was “unconditional” meaning that its fulfillment was totally and completely dependent upon the Lord’s faithfulness.
The Lord’s promise of land to Abram and his descendants in Genesis 13:14-17 is an “extension” upon His promise to Abram in Genesis 12:1 and is thus related to the “Abrahamic” covenant.
The “Palestinian” covenant was a confirmation and enlargement of the original “Abrahamic” covenant and amplified the land features of the “Abrahamic” covenant (Gen. 13:14-15; 15:18).
The “Palestinian” covenant was confirmed to Isaac (Gen. 26:3-4) and Jacob (Gen. 35:12), reiterated to Moses (Ex. 6:2-8) who described the geographical boundaries of the land in Numbers 34:1-12 and who prophesied the fulfillment of this covenant during the millennium in Deuteronomy 30:1-9.
The land grant under the “Palestinian” covenant: (1) Most of the land in Turkey (2) Most of East Africa (3) Saudi Arabia (4) Yemen (5) Oman and Red Sea (6) Syria (7) Iraq (8) Jordan.
The land grant has boundaries on the Mediterranean, on Aegean Sea, on Euphrates River and the Nile River.
Deuteronomy 30:1-10 describes seven features of the “Palestinian” covenant: (1) The nation will be plucked off the land for its unfaithfulness (Deut. 28:63-68; 30:1-3). (2) There will be a future repentance of Israel (Deut. 28:63-68; 30:1-3). (3) Israel’s Messiah will return (Deut. 30:3-6). (4) Israel will be restored to the land (Deut. 30:5). (5) Israel will be converted as a nation (Deut. 30:4-8; cf. Rm. 11:26-27). (6) Israel’s enemies will be judged (Deut. 30:7). (7) The nation will then receive her full blessing (Deut. 30:9).
The Lord promises that this land would be given to Abram’s descendants and this promise was fulfilled to a certain extent by Israel under Joshua (Josh. 21:43-45; cf. 13:1-7) and David and Solomon (1 Kgs. 4:20-25; Neh. 9:8).
The prophets of Israel prophesied of the “Palestinian” covenant’s literal and ultimate fulfillment during the millennial reign of Christ (Isa. 11:11-12; Jer. 16:14-16; 23:3-8; 31:8, 31-37; Ezek. 11:17-21; 20:33-38; 34:11-16; 39:25-29; Hos. 1:10-11; Joel 3:17-21; Amos 9:11-15; Micah 4:6-7; Zeph. 3:14-20; Zech. 8:4-8).
During the millennial reign of Christ, the northern boundary of Israel will extend from the Mediterranean Sea to the Euphrates River (47:15-17), incorporating much of modern Lebanon and Syria.
The eastern border will extend south from the Euphrates River, incorporating the Golan Heights and portions of Syria almost up to Damascus, and continue south to where the Jordan River leaves the Sea of Galilee and the river will be the eastern border to the Dead Sea’s southern end (47:18).
From there the southern border will go westward, incorporating the Negev and parts of Sinai all the way along the Brook of Egypt (the modern Wadi-el-Arish) to the point where it reaches the Mediterranean Sea (47:19), the western border (47:20).
Although the land will have twelve tribal divisions, these subdivisions will differ from those in the Book of Joshua.
Ezekiel 48:1-7 describes the northern subdivisions for seven of the twelve tribes.
From the north to the south they will be: (1) Dan (48:1) (2) Asher (48:2) (3) Naphtali (48:3) (4) Manasseh (48:4) (5) Ephraim (48:5) (6) Reuben (48:6) (7) Judah (48:7). Ezekiel 48:8-22 describes the holy mountain, which will be south of Judah and north of Benjamin, separating the northern and the southern tribes. Ezekiel 48:23-29 describes the subdivisions of the remaining five tribes in the south. From north to south, they will be: (1) Benjamin (48:23) (2) Simeon (48:24) (3) Issachar (48:25) (4) Zebulun (48:26) (5) Gad (48:27) next to the southern border.