PetraIf the picture at the left looks vaguely familiar, it is because it is the location where the final scene of Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade was filmed.

Indiana (Harrison Ford) and his father (Sean Connery) end up in this temple-like structure in their search for the Holy Grail – the cup of Christ.

This place exists in modern-day Jordan. Today it is called Petra. The ancient Nabataeans called it Sela – the Rock.

This red rock canyon is located south and somewhat east of the Dead Sea. It is one of the most inaccessible places on earth. In a deep basin, high in the mountains, it is surrounded on every side by brilliantly colored granite and sandstone cliffs. This makes it a veritable amphitheater-like city.

The only entrance to the city is by “the Siq,” a narrow, mile-long gorge between towering cliffs.   In some places it narrows to a 12-foot stream-bed before opening to what the poet called the “rose-red city half as old as time.”

The first structure that appears is el-Khazneh, the royal temple-tomb cut out of the rock wall which you see in the picture, 150 feet high with finely-carved columns.   The temple itself dates to perhaps 90 years before Christ.

The city itself goes back much, much further. High in the rocks, accessible only by that narrow pass, it was easily defended and nearly impossible to attack.   All this brings us to the point of this little archaeology lesson:

These mountains are where the ancient Edomites lived. The Edomites were the descendants of Jacob’s brother, Esau. Over the centuries, the Edomites became the sworn enemies of God’s people, Israel. When Israel was coming out of Egypt under Moses, the Edomites refused to let Israel pass through their territory on the way to the promised land. When Jerusalem was destroyed, they mocked and taunted God’s people.

The little book of Obadiah which we will consider on this final Sunday of the Church Year is all about God’s judgment on the Edomites…and on all those who boast that God can never bring them down and who mock God’s people.

From their lofty perch in the mountains they boasted that no one could ever conquer them. The prophet Obadiah records what the Lord says to them:

“The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home in the heights, you who say to yourself, ‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’ Though you soar like the eagle and make your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down.”

 On this final Sunday of the Church Year, as our thoughts turn to the end of all things and to the day of God’s just judgment, the prophet Obadiah proclaims: “The day of the Lord is near for all nations!” Ever since Adam and Eve sought to “become like God,” ever since the folks at the tower of Babel sought to do the same, God’s judgment is clear: “I will bring you down!”

Mercifully, and amazingly, for men who wanted to become God, God became man in the person of Jesus Christ. For all who humbly trust in Christ, “the day of the Lord” brings comfort instead of terror.   Jesus said it best to His little flock: “Lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near!”