The Prophet Series: Obadiah
There are at least 12 Old Testament men named Obadiah, which name means “Worshipper of Yavah.” Nothing is known of the author of this small book, the shortest in the Old Testament. (Now, come on, you have to go and read it. It’s 21 verses!) The most accepted date for its writing is 848-841 B.C. This date might have made Obadiah the first in our series of the minor prophets, but the date is debated, is not certain, and therefore we follow their order recorded in the Old Testament.
Our proposed order and the Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is made up of three divisions: 1) Torah; 2) Prophets (former and later); 3) The Writings. These do not directly match the order that we find them in our English Bible.
The Later Prophets (Neviim Acharonim in Hebrew) goes as follows: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi. In the spirit of some form of chronological order, we will write about Isaiah after Jonah and Micah, since, as best we know, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah and Isaiah all prophesied during “roughly” the same period, leading up to the destruction of the Northern Kingdom. Okay, got all that!?
The Book of Obadiah
The prophet spoke of God’s judgment upon Edom, the kingdom of Esau, who were a constant thorn in the side of Israel. He also spoke of God’s grace to believing Israel. Both of these themes, the judgment of Gentile nations who oppress Israel (whether she deserved it or not) and God’s kindness to Israel in remembering His covenants, are woven through all of the major and minor prophets.
“This small book speaks of the danger of the great sin of pride and arrogance, the feeling of superiority that often results from taking advantage of others.” [The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Minor Prophets]
Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling.
I have Edomites. Should I call the Exterminator?
If you had Edomites in your house that would be a miracle because they ceased to exist after the first century B.C., just as God prophesied. The Edomites are descendants of Jacob’s twin Esau. They settled in the land of Seir, south of the Dead Sea. Their wealth came mostly from trade and their abundant supply of salt. Their land was mountainous, which afforded them security from invaders. Their wealth and security fostered in them a false pride.
Edom was constantly a thorn in the side of Israel though they were their half-brothers. They were conquered by David, but for only a time. When they regained power, they continued to be a source of vexation.
Esau battled Jacob in the womb, out of the womb, and long after the womb. Israel and Edom depict the constant struggle of God’s people and the world as well as the struggle between Jew and Gentile (Anti-Semitism). But, only one man will be left standing. In this world, in any age and in any place, despite the level of the struggle and how dark things may get, the one who responds in obedience to the grace of God has everything to gain, but a person who spurns His grace in pride has everything to lose.
It is no mistake that Edom in Hebrew is spelled exactly the same as Adam but with different vowel points. In Adam all die.
Edom’s destruction, vv. 1-9
Edom was proud. Edom’s pride comes from two sources. She dwelled in the mountains and this gave her natural, geographical protection from enemies. Edom was not easily invaded. Second, she was prosperous. Edom traded in salt, mined copper and iron, and looted what she could. In this she depicts the false security of the unbeliever.
Oba 3 The arrogance of your heart has deceived you,
You who live in the clefts of the rock,
In the loftiness of your dwelling place,
Who say in your heart,
'Who will bring me down to earth?'
In how many different ways does the unbeliever seek protection or physical security? I won’t try to make a list. Many are legit. God says “food and covering” are good enough. I may be surrounded by an arsenal, then a high and thick granite wall, then a moat, then an army, then a dense forest, then a bottomless gorge, and then precipitous mountains. Could I then boast in my security?
Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman keeps awake in vain.
A man’s pride about anything material in his possession will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor, PRO 29:23.
In how many different ways does the unbeliever seek wealth. This list would be as long as the one on security, and with a bit of overlap. If a man had all the wealth in the world, he would not be rich. He only owns temporary things. He will take none of it with him, for one thing, and secondly, if he is lustful for wealth, the richness of love, peace, and joy will elude him.
1TI 6:8 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.
This truth is known the world over, but so many men, generation after generation, fall right into money pit and the security pit, and down there, they have neither peace or riches.
She was violent, hurtful, oppressive, and cruel to her “brother” Jacob, meaning his descendants. The Edomites are descendants of Abraham. Though Esau rejected God’s covenant, without the Patriarchs they would not have existed at all. They were not ignorant of this fact. They sinned like Cain against his brother Abel.
In vv. 11-12 Edom stood aloof when foreign forces went against Judah, and even rejoiced when it happened. In vv. 13-14 Edom followed the oppressors into Jerusalem and plundered what they could, looking down upon God’s people, their brothers. When Judah was attacked and Jews fled, the Edomites helped to catch them and hand them over. There were multiple times in Judah’s history when they were oppressed by foreigners, and while it was true that the oppression was allowed by God due to their sin, Edom did not have to assist. And they did many times leading up to and including the time of the final destruction of Judah by Babylon.
Remember, O Lord, against the sons of Edom
The day of Jerusalem,
Who said, "Raze it, raze it,
To its very foundation."
O daughter of Babylon, you devastated one,
How blessed will be the one who repays you
With the recompense with which you have repaid us.
How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones
Against the rock.
Edom is even given the title “daughter of Babylon.”
God’s Judgment on Israel’s Enemies
Edom illustrates God’s judgment to come on all nations who rebel against God. Nations who raise arrogance against God always go the way of anti-Semitism.
"For the day of the Lord draws near on all the nations.
As you have done, it will be done to you.
Your dealings will return on your own head.
"Because just as you drank on My holy mountain,
All the nations will drink continually.
They will drink and swallow,
And become as if they had never existed.
They drank on His holy mountain when they entered and plundered what was there and God says that they will drink alright, but that of His wrath and they will disappear. Edom ceased to exist as a nation by the 5th century B.C., and its descendants by the first century B.C.
Interestingly enough, though its fullness will have to be explored another time, Herod the Great, the man who gave the order to have the infant Christ murdered along with all the male children in Bethlehem, was a descendant of Edomites who had come to be known as Idumeans, and also, the location of the return of Christ, His first landing at His Second Coming in which He will bring war upon His enemies, will also be in Edom, at Bozrah, ISA 63:1-6. These two things are not unlinked.
There is another way in which Edom, as well as all the nations, have drank from God’s holy mountain (vs. 16). They have all received divine revelation from Israel; at Sinai, at Zion, and through the Lord Jesus Christ who died upon that mountain. The Bible, containing its gospel, God’s gift to the world, is, with the possible exception of Luke, completely written by Jews.
God’s Blessings upon the Remnant of Israel
As all the prophets state, true Israel, believing Israel, will be delivered, and they will be as an actual nation upon this earth under the Millennial Reign of Christ. Jacob, representing the Southern Kingdom of Judah will be united with Joseph, representing the Northern Kingdom of Israel (vs. 18). Vv. 19-20 actually lists some of the lands that will be restored to Israel. Replacement theologians who deny the literal kingdom of the Millennium, the literal restoration of Israel, and fulfillment of the covenant promises have to spiritualize these prophecies that are so specifically literal.
Kingdoms are boastful in their pride, but God gets the last word.
Last word/last verse:
Oba 21 The deliverers will ascend Mount Zion
To judge the mountain of Esau,
And the kingdom will be the Lord's.
The Book of Obadiah is short but powerful. It contains the railing and full judgment by God upon the nations who reject Him and persecute His people. It pronounces the utter stupidity of anti-Semitism and its dire consequences. It reveals that the proud wicked do prosper, but it is only for a season. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. A man will reap what he sows.” (GAL 6:7)
Even under great persecution, and even being the minority when the rest of your people are apostate, the believers, the remnant has everything to gain and nothing to lose. The kingdom will be the Lord’s. That is the final word and all who are in that kingdom will be the final victors.
On to Jonah …
Praise the Lord,