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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 31

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 31.—Of the Predictions Concerning the Salvation of the World in Christ, in Obadiah, Nahum, and Habakkuk.

The date of three of the minor prophets, Obadiah, Nahum, and Habakkuk, is neither mentioned by themselves nor given in the chronicles of Eusebius and Jerome.  For although they put Obadiah with Micah, yet when Micah prophesied does not appear from that part of their writings in which the dates are noted.  And this, I think, has happened through their error in negligently copying the works of others.  But we could not find the two others now mentioned in the copies of the chronicles which we have; yet because they are contained in the canon, we ought not to pass them by.

Obadiah, so far as his writings are concerned, the briefest of all the prophets, speaks against Idumea, that is, the nation of Esau, that reprobate elder of the twin sons of Isaac and grandsons of Abraham.  Now if, by that form of speech in which a part is put for the whole, we take Idumea as put for the nations, we may understand of Christ what he says among other things, “But upon Mount Sion shall be safety, and there shall be a Holy One.” 1168   And a little after, at the end of the same prophecy, he says, “And those who are saved again shall come up out of Mount Sion, that they may defend Mount Esau, and it shall be a kingdom to the Lord.” 1169   It is quite evident this was fulfilled when those saved again out of Mount Sion—that is, the believers in Christ from Judea, of whom the apostles are chiefly to be acknowledged—went up to defend Mount Esau.  How could they defend it except by making safe, through the preaching of the gospel, those who believed that they might be “delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God?” 1170   This he expressed as an inference, adding, “And it shall be to the Lord a kingdom.”  For Mount Sion signifies Judea, where it is predicted there shall be safety, and a Holy One, that is, Christ Jesus.  But Mount Esau is Idumea, which signifies the Church of the Gentiles, which, as I have expounded, those saved again out of Sion have defended that it should be a kingdom to the Lord.  This was obscure before it took place; but what believer does not find it out now that it is done?

As for the prophet Nahum, through him God says, “I will exterminate the graven and the molten things:  I will make thy burial.  For lo, the feet of Him that bringeth good tidings and announceth peace are swift upon the mountains!  O Judah, celebrate thy festival days, and perform thy vows; for now they shall not go on any more so as to become antiquated.  It is completed, it is consumed, it is taken away.  He ascendeth who breathes in thy face, delivering thee out of tribulation.” 1171   Let him that remembers the gospel call to mind who hath ascended from hell and breathed the Holy Spirit in the face of Judah, that is, of the Jewish disciples; for they belong to the New Testament, whose festival days are so spiritually renewed that they cannot become antiquated.  Moreover, we already see the graven and molten things, that is, the idols of the false gods, exterminated through the gospel, and given up to oblivion as of the grave, and we know that this prophecy is fulfilled in this very thing.

Of what else than the advent of Christ, who was to come, is Habakkuk understood to say, “And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision openly on a tablet of boxwood, that he that readeth these things may understand.  For the vision is yet for a time appointed, and it will arise in the end, and will not become void:  if it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, and will not be delayed?” 1172


Footnotes

377:1168

Obad. 17.

377:1169

Obad. 21.

377:1170

Col. 1.13.

377:1171

Nah. 1:14, Nah. 2:1.

377:1172

Hab. 2:2, 3.


Next: Chapter 32

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