Sermon #1550                               Miscellaneous Sermons


     Title:           Three Great Promises

     Text:           Obadiah 1:17

     Subject:      Sure Salvation for God’s Elect

     Date:          Sunday Morning—November 30, 2003

     Tape #        X-89b




(Oba 1:17)  "But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions."


Our text begins with the word “But,” showing that what we now have before us is in direct contrast to what precedes it. The first sixteen verses of Obadiah’s prophecy are sting words of wrath and judgment for the Edomites, judgment they had fully earned, judgment to be measured out by God exactly according to the merits of the sons of Esau. But, verses 17-21 speak of grace, deliverance by grace, and the possession of possessions bestowed upon the house of Jacob by an act of boundless, undeserved mercy, love, and grace.


What a contrast this is! When God comes forth to judge the wicked, he comes to save his elect. When Pharaoh is overthrown in the Red Sea, it is that Israel may be delivered. When Amalek is conquered, it is that Israel may be saved. Obadiah speaks of both the black cloud of wrath and the silver lining of grace in the works of our God. The acceptable year of the Lord is the day of vengeance of our God.


Psalmist said, “I will sing of mercy and judgment” because the two go hand in hand. The scepter of mercy is displayed, side-by-side with the sword of judgment throughout the Word of God. Indeed, the scepter of mercy is extended only upon the grounds of justice satisfied. It is always set before us in just this light in the Book of God.

·       The sword of justice fell upon Adam, then mercy (Gen. 3).

·       The sword fell upon Noah’s generation, then mercy (Gen. 6-9).

·       The sword fell in Egypt, then mercy (Ex. 12).

·       The sword fell upon the Son of God, then mercy upon chosen sinners (Rom. 3:24-26).

·       The sword shall fall upon the earth in that last great day, then mercy upon the redeemed of the Lord!


To the ungodly, the day of the Lord will be darkness, and not light. When Christ comes again, there will be everlasting curse and damnation on his left hand, but everlasting bliss and salvation on his right. Hell is as deep as heaven is high. God, “who delighteth in mercy,” also hates iniquity, and will soon purge his creation of all evil and all workers of iniquity. There is a day coming when “they shall be as though they had not been” (vv. 15-16).


(Oba 1:15-16)  "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. {16} 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."


(Oba 1:17-18)  "But (Blessed contrast!) 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."


Here are three great promises of God, promises of grace (Obad. 1:17).

1.    Upon mount Zion shall be deliverance.”

2.    And there shall be holiness.”

3.    The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.”


I.       Here’s the first promise. What a promise it is! ― “Upon mount Zion shall be deliverance.


This is not merely a promise of typical, physical deliverance for Israel. This is the promise Christ our Deliverer and of eternal salvation by him, spiritual deliverance from the law, sin, Satan, the world, death, hell, and wrath to come by him (Rom. 11:26-27).


(Rom 11:26-27)  "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: {27} For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins."


Christ is the Deliverer that both came to Zion and comes out of Zion, It is Christ who has wrought deliverance for Zion, his church and people. It is this deliverance that is proclaimed in Zion. And all who are delivered forever dwell in Zion.


In fact, if you will look at the alternate translation of these words in the margin of you Bible, you will see that they might be translated ― “Upon mount shall be they that escape.” They that escape the curse of the law, the wrath and justice of God, and everlasting damnation in hell by fleeing to Christ for refuge dwell in Zion forever.


The promise given in the opening words of our text refers to this great gospel day in which we now live and reaches to eternity. ― “Upon mount Zion shall be deliverance,” salvation. This is what Joel described in Joel 2:32.


(Joel 2:32)  "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."


A.   The deliverance I proclaim to you this day in Zion is a threefold deliverance.


(2 Cor 1:9-10)  "But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: {10} Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;"


1.    We have been saved.


Upon mount Zion shall be deliverance,” and we have found it so. In Christ Jesus we have been saved. We have escaped the wrath of God. Glory be to God! We have been saved!


·       Eternally Saved (Rom. 8:29-30; 2 Tim. 1:9-10).


(Rom 8:29-30)  "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. {30} Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified."


(2 Tim 1:9-10)  "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, {10} But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:"


·       Saved at Calvary (Rom. 4:25; Gal. 3:13; Heb. 9:12)


(Rom 4:25)  "Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification."


(Gal 3:13)  "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:"


(Heb 9:12)  "Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us."


·       Experimentally Saved (Eph. 2:1-9)


(Eph 2:1-9)  "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: {2} Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: {3} Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. {4} But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, {5} Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) {6} And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: {7} That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. {8} For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: {9} Not of works, lest any man should boast."


2.    We are being saved.


Look at the text again. We are being saved daily. The text says, “Upon mount Zion shall be deliverance.” Salvation abides there at all times. Not only have we been saved, but we are also saved continually from all evil. We must never think of our salvation as something done on a certain day in the past, and there and then ended. Conversion is the beginning of sanctification, and sanctification is the life-long working out of salvation. Grace will always be needed from day to day, until we enter into glory. The gospel we preach is the power of God unto salvation to those who are being saved.


·       Upon mount Zion shall be deliverance” by divine providence.

·       Upon mount Zion shall be deliverance” by divine preservation.

·       Upon mount Zion shall be deliverance” by God’s never-ending, all-sufficient grace.

·       Upon mount Zion shall be deliverance” from all trouble.

·       Upon mount Zion shall be deliverance” from all temptation.

·       Upon mount Zion shall be deliverance” from all falls.

·       Upon mount Zion shall be deliverance” from all things.


3.    We shall be saved.


We shall be saved today, tomorrow, and forever. And, blessed be his name, we shall soon be saved altogether! ― “It is high time to awake out of sleep, for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Rom. 13:11).

·       Freedom is nearer.

·       Perfection is nearer.

·       Heaven is nearer.

·       Resurrection glory is nearer.

·       A new heavens and a new earth are nearer.

·       Christ is nearer!


B.   This deliverance, this salvation, is the salvation of a remnant.


One of the more scholarly commentators translates our text, ― “Upon mount Zion will be that which has been saved.” And the parallel passage in Joel 2:32 clearly states that this promised salvation is the salvation of a remnant. There is a remnant according to the election of grace, and that remnant shall be saved. What does that mean?


1.    A remnant is that which is left. Those who are saved by Christ are the despised, rejected, useless leftovers of Adam’s race.


(1 Cor 1:26-29)  "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: {27} But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; {28} And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: {29} That no flesh should glory in his presence."


2.    A remnant, compared to the rest, is little; and those who are saved, at any time in history, are comparatively few.


I make no guess as to what the number of God’s chosen will be in the end. Those who are saved shall be a great multitude that no man can number. But at present, taking the most charitable view of things possible, the saved in this world are few. The world lieth in the wicked one, but those who are in Christ Jesus are a small remnant. That cheering word from his gracious lips, “Fear not, little flock, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom,” is still applicable to his church.


The fact that we are few in this world is no cause for despair. If God has saved us, though we be but few, he will accomplish his purposes by us. He saves neither by many nor by few. His own right arm gets him the victory. Let us, therefore, go forth in the same spirit as the apostles of Christ in the beginning did, with the Spirit of God resting upon us, and few as we are, we shall yet subdue the nations to Christ.


3.    That remnant saved by Christ is a remnant chosen by grace.


In mount Zion the escaped remnant are men and women chosen by grace, elected and predestined to this deliverance.


C. H. Spurgeon once said, “If you believe that God has chosen you, nothing should daunt you. More courage comes into the heart through a grip of the doctrine of election than by any other truth. Let a man believe that God has ordained him to this or that, and he goes forward with irresistible resolve. The man impressed with his election crashes through every difficulty, as though he wore a bolt of iron, shot from some tremendous cannon by a master marksman. Who shall hinder my accomplishing that to which God has appointed me? I shall fulfill my destiny: who shall hinder me?”


It is written, “The election hath obtained it” (Rom. 11:7); and so it shall ever be. Deliverance remains with the people whom the Lord has chosen.


4.    Be sure you do not miss this. ― This remnant, chosen, redeemed, and saved by grace, is set for the deliverance of others.


God’s purpose of grace with any man does not end with that man. God saves one to make him an instrument of good to others. His promise to Abraham and his seed is “thou shalt be a blessing” (Gen. 12:2). Look at verse 21.


(Oba 1:21)  "And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD'S."


Without question, there is but One Savior of sinners; and that Savior is Christ. Yet, he graciously uses saved sinners as instruments in his hands to proclaim deliverance for the salvation of others. In that sense, the word “saviours” is used here to refer to gospel preachers and to the saints of God in each succeeding generation by whom the light of the gospel is carried through this world.


When God chooses a company of men to eternal life, it is that they may be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Jehovah chose Israel that the favored nation might receive the oracles of God and preserve them for the ages to come. If he has chosen us and brought us to his mount Zion, it is that, finding deliverance for ourselves, we may go forth and proclaim the glad tidings of it to the ends of the earth. It is written, “Out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”


Has the Lord saved you? Has he taken you out from among the fallen mass of mankind? Has he chosen you by his discriminating grace? Then, you are not your own, you are his forever. You are not to live for yourself, but for his glory and to make known his salvation to the ends of the earth. We are God’s witnesses, his missionaries, the heralds of his grace in this world. Let your souls be big with this high enterprise and noble purpose. Say to yourselves, “It shall be true, ‘the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions,’ for we know of a truth that there is deliverance upon mount Zion.”


Upon mount Zion shall be deliverance.” That is the first promise in our text.


II.    Here is the second ― “And there shall be holiness.”


It is through holiness that deliverance is established in Zion. Holiness is the essential link in this golden chain of blessedness. Without holiness, there could be no deliverance, and no possessing of our possessions. But the holiness is not a holiness of our making. This holiness is the promise of grace, the work of grace, and the result of grace.


A.   Our Deliverer is himself the Holy One, Christ Jesus, the holy Lamb of God.

B.   Our great Savior obtained deliverance for us upon the grounds of absolute holiness, righteousness, justice and truth.

C.   God’s great object in deliverance is to make us holy and without blame before him (Eph. 1:3-4).

D.  Mt. Zion is his holy hill (Ps. 2:6).


The sentence might be read, “Upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be a sanctuary,” or, “a holy place.” The church of God is the house and temple of God, his holy place. He says, “This is my rest forever: here will I dwell, for I have desired it” (Ps. 132:14). When we come together in the name of Christ, the Spirit of God dwells in us, the Son of God is present with us, and the God the Father embraces us. Yes, my brother, my sister, we are living stones of the living temple wherein the Lord Jehovah deigns to make himself known.


Every true gospel church, large or small, is “a habitation of God through the Spirit.” If you think that a church is merely a community of people who meet together for religious purposes, you miss the mark. The church of Christ is the sanctuary of God — the place where God reveals himself.


·       The people of God are a holy people. ― “With His spotless garments on, As holy as the Holy One!” ― “For as he is so are we in this world!

·       The gospel of God is holy doctrine.

·       The ordinances of God are holy ordinances (Believer’s Baptism ― The Supper).


Upon mount Zion shall be deliverance.” That’s the first promise. “And there shall be holiness.” That’s the second. Now, here’s the third great promise of our text…


III.             And the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions."


This was not written for Jacob’s sake alone, “but for us also, to whom it shall be given, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:24-25). What are these possessions?


A.   They are Jacob’s possessions. ― That means that they are totally undeserved possessions. ― Possessions of grace!


B.   They are eternal, covenant possessions (Eph 1:3-14).


(Eph 1:3-14)  "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: {4} According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: {5} Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, {6} To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. {7} In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; {8} Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; {9} Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: {10} That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: {11} In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: {12} That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. {13} In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, {14} Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory."


C.   They are blood bought possessions (Heb. 9:12).


D.  They are possessions to be possessed, possessed by Jacob! These possessions are ours. Let us therefore possess them.


1.    We are to possess them by faith in Christ.


Faith in Christ does not provide, supply, or even secure the possessions. But faith in Christ takes hold on and possesses the possessions (Rom. 5:9-11).


(Rom 5:9-11)  "Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. {10} For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. {11} And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement."


This promise of God tells me that every prodigal son may, upon his return to the Father’s house, may rightfully possess and enjoy all that he has grasped by faith in Christ.


Christ is ours. But who among us knows all that is ours in Christ? He is a Treasure Chest. All that is in the Chest is ours. Let us, day by day, open the Chest, take the treasures in hand, and possess our possessions. Like Abraham, lift up your eyes to the north, and to the south, and to the east, and to the west, and behold the goodly land which the Lord our God has given us.


We see the blessings of the covenant. Let us possess them. Let us drink deep from the Fountain of grace to the present and everlasting salvation of our souls. It is written, “All things are yours, for ye are Christ’s.” Oh, sons of Jacob, let us, for the honor of our God and the unabated satisfaction of our souls, possess our possessions! A man may have great possessions, and yet be practically poor, because he lives miserly. Is it not so with us?


·       Am I washed in the blood of the Lamb? Let me possess the cleansing of that blood and walk in it.

·       Have we now “received the atonement?” Let us then possess that peace with God which follows complete justification

·       Is “the peace of God which passeth all understanding” ours? Then let us possess it.

·       Is the throne of grace ours? Is the mercy-seat ours? Then let us come boldly to the throne of grace and obtain mercy and grace in time of need.


All things are ours, and yet we live as if nothing were ours. Like a horse shut out of the pastures, we nibble round the hedges. Better far for us to be like sheep, which enter in and lie down in green pastures. Oh, for grace to appropriate by enjoyment those treasures of the covenant, which make the soul to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory! May God grant us grace to quit merely looking in at the windows of the banqueting hall of his boundless grace, and to enter into the banquet, to sit at the King’s table and possess our possessions.


Why should we hunger and thirst, when Christ has given us his flesh to be meat indeed, and his blood to be drink indeed? Why should we hang our harps upon the willows and refuse to sing, when the Lord God says, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love?” Why are we so weak, when we know that Christ is our Strength? Why are we so downcast, if Christ is our Song? Why are we so dejected, though we are assured that all providence is ours? How can I be so empty, and yet declare with dogmatism that all the fulness of Christ is mine?


Blessed is he who, having believed in the Lord Jesus, is able to sing,


“Now I can read my title clear

To mansions in the skies,

I bid farewell to every fear,

And wipe my weeping eyes.”


I have not come to the end of my text yet. Let me show you another meaning upon these words, and apply them to souls as touching things to come.


2.    We have possessions that we have not yet seen, and cannot as yet possess; but “the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions!


I have a heritage of joy

Which now I cannot see;

The hand that bled to make it mine

Is keeping it for me.


All the glory that our Lord Jesus Christ has earned by his obedience as our Substitute shall be possessed by us when we are with him in glory in eternity, when we are made perfect in him (John 17:5, 22-24).


(John 17:5)  "And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was."


(John 17:22-24)  "And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: {23} I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. {24} Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world."


The whole world belongs to Christ. That means that the whole world belongs to us, even our enemies. And when all the kingdom of creation is made to be the footstool of our Savior, when all creation is manifestly possessed by him, then “the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.


(Oba 1:18-21)  "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."                                                      Amen.