The Minor Prophet Obadiah
EXTRACTED FROM THE 12 MINOR PROPHETS BOOK BY JAMES PARIS – COPYRIGHT APPLIES
The year is approx. 845 B.C. I must point out that there is doubt surrounding this date as there is dispute over whether Obadiah is referring to the sacking of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC or in fact referring to 845 BC when Jerusalem was attacked by the Philistines and the Arabs. As such, this book is one of the most difficult to date with accuracy.
For this work though I have chosen the 845 BC date. Either way, it has no significant influence on the message given by the Prophet Obadiah.
Israel has been split into two kingdoms after the death in 925 B.C. of King Solomon.
King Solomon in his later years had ruled Israel with a rod of iron, partially enslaving his own people in order to complete his immense building projects and serve his ever-growing army of administrators and lackeys. This caused huge resentment amongst the common people who thought that the death of King Solomon – as sad as it was – would lead to an easing of the burden that they were under.
Unfortunately this was not to be the case as his heir Rehoboam, promised even harsher discipline when he took over the reins of power.
“ My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.”
1 Kings 12:14
As you may imagine, this did not go down at all well, and indeed was against the advice of his elders. This resulted in ten tribes going their own way, and forming the Northern kingdom of Israel with the late King Solomon’s labour advisor Jeroboam as their King.
Question To Ask – What would you have done in the Israelites situation; stayed on to get beaten and abused, or risk moving to a better, if uncertain future?
The southern Kingdom is ruled by Solomon’s son Rehoboam and is named Judah.
Eighty years later
We pick-up now at the time of Obadiah. Jerusalem at this time (845 B.C.) had just been attacked and looted by the Philistines and the Arabs supported by Edom.
What’s in a name? Obadiah means ‘Servant of the Lord’ or ‘One who serves’
Shortest book in the Old Testament.
Point of note – this is one of the 7 Old Testament books that are not quoted in the NT.
However it is quoted in several places by the prophet Joel and Jeremiah. Cf Joel 2:32, Jeremiah 49:14
Subject matter is of course God’s judgment!
This time however it is not the usual suspects i.e. the Israelites or Assyria but instead it is against the Edomites.
Who were the Edomites?
They were the descendants of Esau – Jacobs’s brother. The pair being the late sons of Isaac and Rebekah.
Right from the get go there was conflict between the two brothers (Gen 25:22,23) READ
This conflict continued throughout their history:-
• Jacob talked Esau out of his birthright for a plate of stew. (Gen 25:27-34)
• He tricked his father Isaac into blessing him instead of Esau. (Gen 27)
• There was potential for real trouble when the brothers met years later. (Gen 32-33)
• Conflict at the time of the Exodus when Edom refused the Israelites safe passage through their land. ( Num 20:14-21)
• Enmity continued with King David (11 Samuel 8:14)
• During the reign of Jehoram Edom revolts and sets up their own King (11 Kings 8:20-22) about 845 B.C. Obadiah gives this prophecy to the Edomites.
Points of note:-
• ‘Edom’ means Red – the color of the stew for which he sold his birthright.
• Much of the land owned by the Edomites was made up of dark red sandstone. The ancient city of Petra, with its stone buildings carved out of solid stone, being the most famous example for us today.
• This was also the color of Esau at his birth (Gen 25:25).
Why does Obadiah preach God’s judgment on them?
READ Obadiah 1:10-11 “Because of violence to your brother Jacob,
You will be covered with shame,
And you will be cut off forever.
11 “On the day that you stood aloof,
On the day that strangers carried off his wealth,
And foreigners entered his gate
And cast lots for Jerusalem—
You too were as one of them…”
The city of Jerusalem had been attacked by the Philistines and Arabians. The city had been stormed and looted. Edom, who was in a state of revolt, sided with the invading forces and shared in the spoils (Obad. 11). They gloated over Israel’s misfortune (Obad. 12-13), and killed or imprisoned those who fled the destruction (Obad. 14).
V18 Read. Also Malachi 1:3-4 .. “but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness.” 4 Though Edom says, “We have been beaten down, but we will return and build up the ruins”; thus says the Lord of hosts, “They may build, but I will tear down; and men will call them the wicked territory, and the people toward whom the Lord is indignant forever.”
Question To Ask
When did the final confrontation between Jacob and Esau takes place?
Answer: During the trial of Jesus Christ, when Jesus (a descendant of Jacob) stood before King Herod (a descendant of Esau).
Who does God use to judge? v7 “All the men allied with you Will send you forth to the border, and the men at peace with you Will deceive you and overpower you.
They who eat your bread will set an ambush for you.”
Enter the Nabateans; The Nabateans were caravan drivers, traders and merchants whom the Edomites trusted and traded with. They were their business partners. They were allowed access into the city, but they turned against the Edomites and overthrew them.
By 100 A.D. the Edomites were entirely lost to history. The ancient and prosperous capital Petra not rediscovered until 1812 by a Swiss explorer, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt.
Lessons For Today
The Lord takes a VERY dim view of betrayal !!
• The ultimate sin of Edom was its lack of family values or brotherliness. Edom stood by and gloated over the misfortune of a brother nation. “He who rejoices at calamity will not go unpunished” (Prov. 17:5).
• If you share in the spoils of wrong doing, even by ‘standing aloof’ you have become ‘as one of them’ (Ob 11).
• As you sow so will you reap – The Edomites sought to utterly destroy the Israelites but were themselves totally destroyed. (Obadiah 15). “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap!” (Gal. 6:7).
Pride comes before a fall, The Edomites were proud and arrogant . Read 2-4
Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling.”
Pride is all about ‘I ’
Remember Pride was the sin of Lucifer READ…Isaiah 14:13,14 where you will see the five I Will’s of Lucifer “But you said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God,
And I will sit on the mount of assembly
In the recesses of the north. ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’
Daniel 4: 28-37 King Nebuchadnezzar ate grass for 7 years
Answer to pride – James 4:10 “Humble yourself before God and he will exalt you”
Often we ask ourselves the question, is this message from The Lord. Or perhaps is this individual for real ! So-called men and women of God will sometimes come up to you with a prophecy or a ‘word from The Lord’. The bible tells us to judge every word to be sure of its origin and its validity, for false teachers will surely mingle amongst God’s people.
2 Peter 2:1-3 “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 3 and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”
One of the surest ways to judge whether a message is from The Lord or not, is to look at the individual giving the message. Notwithstanding the fact that the Lord does indeed use ‘broken vessels’ to perform his purposes, a truly ‘spiritual’ individual will always display a certain humility or fear of The Lord in their lives and attitude.
The real signs of a Godly man or woman is not pride and arrogance but a Godly humility.
The conflict between Edom and Israel is often used to visualize the battle that goes on in a Christians life between the forces of evil (Edom) and the power of the Holy Spirit (Israel) in our lives.
The Apostle Paul , speaks about the fight between the flesh and the spirit that battles constantly within us (cf. Galatians 5:16–18 : Rom 7;24)
For the Christian, the fight against ‘the flesh’ or worldly desires goes on; it does not stop when you accept Jesus into your life.
The war against sin has already been won at the cross – but the battle against the flesh continues and will continue, until we finally meet with The Lord in Heaven.
A particular thanks for the great artwork goes to my good friend Agnieszka Gorak. You can see more examples of her unique sense of humor and observations on life at her website http://myguineapigtales.com