Obadiah (Obad)

Book 31 of the OT, having just 1 chapter. This minor prophetic book was written to the Edomites by Obadiah, possibly between 853-841 BC, to show they stood condemned and would be destroyed because they harmed God’s people. Time to read: 5 mins.

Key people: the Edomites.

Outline.  Although the Edomites, as descendants of Esau, were blood relatives of Israel there was enmity between them and they encouraged Babylon to invade Judah.  Because of their seemingly invincible rock fortress, the Edomites considered themselves safe and lived in defiance of God, yet He said “Because of what you did to Israel you were as Israel’s enemies” and you will be completely destroyed while Israel will re-occupy the land and fulfil my purposes (Obad 1:10,11,15-21).

Main lesson. See how God views and responds to those who deal badly with His people. By AD 70 the Edomite nation had died out as prophesied by Obadiah.  We are warned not to cause harm to the Jews (anti-Semitism) or even gloat when our enemy falls (Gen 12:3; Prov 24:17). Fellow Christians are also God’s chosen people so do not slander or speak against them for then you are destroying the body of Christ.

Key verses and thoughts: * “You are proud because you think no one can reach you” (Obad 1:3). The Edomites lived in the mountainous region southeast of the Dead Sea. Their capital city, Petra, was cut into a solid rock cliff and could only be reached through a narrow gap in the canyon wall. They considered themselves secure and were self-confident in the natural realm, but pride deceives – it is a sure route to destruction when mankind doesn’t rely on God (Prov 16:18). Real, lasting security is only found in Christ.

* You should not have rejoiced in their misfortune (Obad 1:12). The Edomites, who descended from Esau, continued to hold a grudge against Israel who had descended from the younger twin Jacob. In fact Esau had sold his birthright, and ultimately the blessing that went with it, to Jacob in exchange for a meal when he was starving. This family feud continued to cause conflict and the Edomites refused to assist their blood brothers even in times of crisis. Are we insensitive to the misfortunes of others, letting the differences of the past prevent us from acting with compassion in the present time of need?

* “As you have done it will be done to you” (Obad 1:15). God is a God of justice and for all our actions there is eventually a time of reckoning – be it a reward for doing good and right or facing the consequence of punishment for disobeying and evil. The choice is ours. As the harvest we reap is determined by the seed we sow, what kind of crop can I expect?

See also: anti-Semitism, Esau, Jacob, pride, prophets, sow and reap.