Obadiah, containing one chapter, is the shortest book of the Old Testament. In it is given a prophetic interpretation of a great calamity that has occurred in Edom and a prediction of a universal judgement.
Two key passages to look at:
Verse 10 – “For violence against your brother Jacob, shame shall cover you, and you shall be cut off forever.”
Verse 21 – “And the captives of this host of the children of Israel shall possess the land of the Canaanites as far as Zarephath. The captives of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad shall possess the cities of the South.
Observations about Obadiah:
– Obadiah was an obscure prophet who probably lived in the southern kingdom of Judah. Nothing is known of his hometown or family.
– There are thirteen Obadiah’s in the Old Testament. As to which one this is, four of the better possibilities are:
a. The officer in Ahad’s palace who hid God’s prophets in a cave. I Kings 18:3
b. One of the officials sent out by Jehoshaphat to teach the law in the cities of Judah. 2 Chronicles 17:7
c. One of the overseers who took part in repairing the temple under Josiah. 2 Chronicles 34:12
d. A priest in the time of Nehemiah. Nehemiah 10:5
– A struggle that began in the womb between twin brothers, Esau and Jacob, eventuates in a struggle between their respective descendants, the Edomites and the Israelites. For the Edomites stubborn refusal to aid Israel:
a. First, during the time of the wilderness wandering. (Numbers 20:14-21
b. Second, later during a time of invasion they are roundly condemned by Obadiah.
Note: This little-known prophet describes their crimes, tries their case, and pronounces their judgment—total destruction.
– Thus, the key idea or theme of Obadiah is a declaration of Edom’s coming doom because of her arrogance and cruelty to Judah.
Seven statements convey this thought:
a. Verse 2 – “I will make you small among the nations.”
b. Verse 5 – “The pride of your heart has deceived you.”
c. Verse 6 – “How Esau shall be searched out.”
d. Verse 9 – “Your mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed.”
e. Verse 10 – “Shame shall cover you.”
f. Verse 10 – “You shall be cut off forever.”
h. Verse 15 – “As you have done, it shall be done to you.”
Although Obadiah is the shortest book in the Old Testament (21 verses), it carries one of the strongest messages of judgment.
For Edom there is no pleas to return, no words of consolation, and no words of hope. Edom’s fate is sealed, and there are no conditions for possible deliverance.
God will bring total destruction upon Edom, and there be no remnant. Obadiah is Edom’s day in court, complete with Edom’s arraignment, indictment, and
sentence. The prophet of poetic justice describes how the Judge of the earth will overthrow the pride of Edom and restore the house of Jacob.
The two sections of Obadiah are:
The first section of Obadiah makes it clear that the coming overthrow of Obadiah makes it a certainty, not a condition. Edom is arrogant (verse 3) because of its secure position in Mount Seir, a mountainous region south of the Dead Sea. Its capital city of Sela (Petra) is protected by a narrow canyon that prevents invasion by an army. But God says it will make no difference. Even a thief does not take everything, but when God destroys Edom it will be totally
ransacked. Nothing will survive and nothing will avert God’s complete judgment.
Verses 10-11 describe Edom’s major crime of gloating over the invasion of Jerusalem. Edom rejoiced when foreigners plundered Jerusalem, and became as one of them.
On the day when she should have been allies with Judah, she instead became an
aggressor against Judah. The judgment is strong and the judgment is final. Edom will eventually be judged during the coming day of the Lord when Israel “shall be a fire . . . but the house of Esau shall be stubble” (18).
The closing verses give hope to God’s people that they will possess not only their own land, but also that of Edom and Philistia.
Obadiah is indeed a powerful book with a powerful message.