What does Obadiah 1:16 mean?
ESV: For as you have drunk on my holy mountain, so all the nations shall drink continually; they shall drink and swallow, and shall be as though they had never been.
NIV: Just as you drank on my holy hill, so all the nations will drink continually; they will drink and drink and be as if they had never been.
NASB: For just as you drank on My holy mountain, All the nations will drink continually. They will drink to the last drop, And become as if they had never existed.
CSB: As you have drunk on my holy mountain, so all the nations will drink continually. They will drink and gulp down and be as though they had never been.
NLT: Just as you swallowed up my people on my holy mountain, so you and the surrounding nations will swallow the punishment I pour out on you. Yes, all you nations will drink and stagger and disappear from history.
KJV: For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been.
NKJV: For as you drank on My holy mountain, So shall all the nations drink continually; Yes, they shall drink, and swallow, And they shall be as though they had never been.
Verse Commentary:
In the Bible, judgment is often symbolized by drinking from a cup. It's possible that part of the "gloating" Edom did when Jerusalem was sacked included drinking and celebration (Obadiah 1:13). In this case, the imagery seems to be that of a people who are so unaware, and so drunk, that they drink themselves to death.

Old Testament prophecy sometimes refers to "the day of the Lord," which can mean several things. In some cases, it means some immediate, upcoming day of reckoning. In others, it's a reference to the return of Christ and the beginning of the millennial kingdom. In verse 16, the end-times destruction of these nations is predicted to be absolute. Not long after this prophecy, Edom was driven from their land. Centuries later, they were all but erased by Rome. Someday, all of the nations who reject God will be destroyed so completely, it will be as if they never existed at all (Revelation 19:15).
Verse Context:
Obadiah 1:15–18 makes a subtle shift in audience. Obadiah is one of the few Old Testament books specifically addressed to a nation other than Israel. Starting with verse 15, the warning of judgment shifts from Edom to ''all the nations'' who reject God and His commandments. In particular, nations are threatened to be paid back in the same way they have harmed others. Israel, and other faithful nations, however, will be saved.
Chapter Summary:
The nation of Edom grew from Esau, the brother of Jacob. Jacob would later be re-named ''Israel.'' Despite being so closely related, Israel had few long-term enemies as spiteful as the Edomites. In the short prophecy given by Obadiah, Edom is warned of God's judgment. Edom is particularly condemned for aiding Israel's enemies in a time of war. This warning is extended to all nations that reject God: judgment for your sin is coming, but God will be merciful to those who obey Him.
Chapter Context:
Obadiah is the shortest book in the Old Testament, with only one chapter of 21 verses. In just a few words, it delivers a warning of judgment on Edom, one of Israel's oldest enemies. This passage also warns every nation that defies God that there will be a reckoning. The end of Obadiah's prophecy involves the division of land during the end times.
Book Summary:
Obadiah is an excellent introduction to Old Testament prophecy. In just 21 verses, it covers all of the typical contents found in the prophets. Themes of wrongdoing, imminent judgment, God's mercy, and His restoration are all found in this short book. Reading Obadiah is somewhat like reading the dust jacket of a much larger novel. Obadiah is also interesting in that it is not addressed to Israel, but to the nation of Edom.
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