DATE: 845 or 586 B.C.
Short but Powerful
Obadiah is the shortest book in the Old Testament, only 21 verses long. It’s also the least read book of all the books in the Bible. Yet, all the prophecies of Obadiah have been fulfilled with the exception of vs 21 that is yet to be completely fulfilled.
The date of Obadiah is very uncertain. Nothing clearly tells when it was written. However, what is really important is not the date of the book but rather the message of the book. Obadiah’s message is powerful and it applies to all people in all times.
Obadiah preaches a similar message of that of the preacher in Ecclesiastes. “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity” . . . “Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done And on the labor in which I had toiled; And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun.” (Ecc 1:2, Ecc 2:11). The preacher told that satisfaction will never be found in things “under the sun” because they will diminish and eventually be destroyed. Only those who hope and find rest in the Lord will find true satisfaction. This same life application message was prophesied by Obadiah during his time.
Obadiah can be thought of as the defender of the covenant. Mankind was created for God’s good purpose and glory and it grieves the heart of God when people do nothing to love, honor, and serve Him. Obadiah, therefore, speaks of the sins of omission, sins of forgetting, neglecting, and even rejecting God. He delivers his short prophecy of God’s coming judgment in the form of poetry, making the message easy to remember.
Verses 2-16 give bad news. Judgment is coming for the unbelieving Edomites who were descendants of Esau, the firstborn son of Isaac who was the twin brother of Jacob. The descendants of Esau were in constant conflict with the descendants of Jacob (Israel). When Moses requested passage through their land (Num 20:14-20), they refused. They opposed King Saul (1 Sam 14:47) and they fought against David (1 Kings 11:14-17). They opposed Solomon (1 Kings 11:14-25) and Jehoshaphat (2 Chron 20:22) and rebelled against Jehoram (2 Chron 21:8). Obadiah proclaimed that God would soon judge the Edomites for the ways in which they opposed their brother, God’s chosen people Israel.
Obadiah teaches four important life application lessons from which come questions we all should answer:
- God defines our significance (vs 3-4). Who does God think you are and what does He think about how you live?
- Consequences of sin will always come (vs 10). God can forgive any sin, but He must judge all sins. We reap what we sow. Ask yourself, what sin are you overlooking? Now is the time to repent.
- Don’t take joy in the downfall of your enemies (vs 11-12). God judgment is intended to bring repentance because He cares for all people. Ask yourself, do you show love to all people, including those who do not deserve it? Remember, as a Christian, you have received a love that is undeserved.
- Covenants matter (vs 20-21). God is faithful to keep His covenant with His people even when His people are unfaithful. God has promised to deliver His people and restore all things according to His purpose and plan and in His time. Do you remember that you are in a covenant relationship with God? Then remember also that He is always with you and is an ever present help in all things.
In summary, the book of Obadiah tells that Edom stands judged. Because of her pride in rejoicing over the misfortunes that befell Jerusalem, Edom’s doom in certain. Obadiah also tells that God is faithful to deliver His people. This double thread is woven throughout every prophetic book in the Old Testament.
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave,
Awaits alike the inevitable hour,
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
–Thomas Gray, “ELEGY WRITTEN IN
A COUNTRY CHURCH-YARD”
OUTLINE OF OBADIAH
I. The Doom of Edom, 1-9
A. The Certainty, 1-4
B. The Completeness, 5-9
II. The Denunciation of Edom, 10-14
A. For Mistreatment of Their Brother, vs. 10
B. For Not Caring and Not Helping Their Brother, 11-12
C. For Actions Against Their Brother, 13-14
III. The Destruction of Edom, 15-21
A. The Time of the Destruction, vs. 15
B. The Nature of the Destruction, 16-21
This book can easily be summarized as:
1) God’s Righteous Judgment on Edom (Esau) and
2) God’s Righteous Restoration of Israel (Jacob)
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