Series: Best Book In the BibleEvery Christian knows the importance of reading their Bible, but many are overwhelmed with the task of devouring such a monstrous book! Often times, when Christians lose steam in their yearly reading plans, they can become frustrated and feel defeated. It is for this reason that individual book studies can be a lifesaver. In the Best Book in the Bible series, we will provide entry points into faithful study through “selling” you on why you should fall in love with the various books of the Bible.
There are times when the justice of God seems slow. When others hurt us, and then seem to carry on without remorse, we tend to wonder, “Why, Lord?” Like the psalmist, we ask, “Why do the wicked prosper?” Israel had many enemies, yet none was as traitorous as Edom. However, the Lord is not slow to act in His good time. The prophet Obadiah tells of the coming judgment of a people who wrongfully rejoiced in Israel’s sufferings.
Main Themes: The Judgment of Edom
“’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.'” (Obadiah 15)
For a general introduction to the Minor Prophets, see “Profiting from the Prophets“
The Edomites were descended from Jacob’s brother, Esau. And while they’re all technically one family, the Edomites opposed the Israelites on many occasions. After the Exodus, Moses asked if he could lead God’s people through their land, and the Edomites refused (Num. 20:14-20). They opposed King Saul (1 Kings 14:47), David (1 Kings 11:14-17), Solomon (1 Kings 1:14-25), Jehoshaphat (2 Chron. 20:22), and Jehoram (2 Chron. 21:8). And when Israel suffered loss, the Edomites gloated and rejoiced. The bond between the two peoples should have been one of love and peace, but it was hostile and contentious.
(vv. 1-9) The Coming Judgment of Edom
After enduring hostility against His people, God finally acts in sending Obadiah to Edom with a message of coming judgment. Geographically, the Edomites lived in the high mountains, even occupying the famed city of Petra. In their pride, they looked down on Israel. God tells them, “The arrogance of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in the loftiness of your dwelling place… from there I will bring you down” (vv.3-4).
In verse 7, God tells Edom that He will defeat them and humiliate them; first, their allies will work against them, second, their peaceful neighbors will attack them, and third, those who share in their prosperity will ambush them. Additionally, God will tear down their “wise men” (v. 8), their “mighty men” (v. 9a), even “everyone” (v. 9b).
(vv.10-14) The Message of Denouciation
Starting in verse 10, Obadiah relays God’s message of condemnation. He tells them that they are being condemned because of their unbrotherliness (v. 10), their aloofness (vv. 11-12), and their aggressiveness (vv. 13-14). God tells them, “Because of violence to your brother Jacob, you will be covered with shame, and you will be cute off forever” (v. 10).
(vv. 15-21) Their Coming Destruction
God tells Edom that a day of destruction is coming, “the day of the Lord” that will render judgment on all who have committed wrongdoing (v. 15). And in pure justice and righteousness, God chooses Israel as the tool of Edom’s destruction! He tells them, “The house of Jacob [Israel] will be fire… but the house of Esau will be as stubble” (v. 18). In the end, God has decreed that the troubled house of Israel will inherit Edom’s land (vv. 19-20). Justice will be served, and righteousness will prevail.
What Makes This Book is So Great:
It may seem like a hard sell to say that Obadiah’s thorny prophecy of judgment could be anyone’s favorite, but a few things must be considered. First, the book must be read within the collection of all the prophets. In a time when Israel’s prophets were issuing oracles of judgment to all nations, this one brings color and detail to the overall picture. Second, we see the righteous character of God on display. Israel had endured such hostility from their sworn enemies, but they also endured it from those who should otherwise be their friends. Obadiah showcases the justice of God to right all the wrongs and vindicate His people whom He loves. Guess what? God hasn’t changed. He still vindicates the afflicted, and will one day judge all the nations with righteous judgment.
This book is merely 21 verses and can be read easily in a few minutes. Re-read this as many times as you can during your study and work hard to understand the details. Like when studying shorter books like Philemon or 2 and 3 John, here’s an opportunity to test your study skills and mine for details. Using helpful commentaries will further enhance your global understanding of this book.
Note: Don’t miss the introduction to the prophets series here: Entreatingfavor.com/Profiting-from-the-Prophets/
Note: Find the rest of the Best Book in the Bible series here: EntreatingFavor.com/BestBookInTheBible