OVERVIEW OF THE BOOK OF OBADIAH
Author: In the opening verse, the author identifies himself as Obadiah. Although twelve other men named Obadiah appear in the OT, none of them can be positively identified as this author. A common Hebrew name, Obadiah literally means "servant" or "worshipper of Yahweh." Little else is known about the author's origins except that he most likely lived in Judah since his prophecy relates to Jerusalem.
Date: Due to the minimal historical information in the book, the writings can only be dated as falling between 840 B.C. (when the Edom united with the Philistines and Arabians to attack Jerusalem [2 Kings 8]) and 597 B.C. (when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem [2 Kings 24]).
Purpose of Writing: The shortest book of the OT (21 verses), God called Obadiah to condemn and pronounce judgment on the nation of Edom (see map) for its sins against both God and the people of God. The Edomites, descendants of Esau, twin brother of Jacob (Gen. 25-33), had shown hostility and opposition to Israel going as far back as their refusal to allow the Israelites to pass through their territory en route to the Promised Land (Num. 20). Edom's principal sin is arrogant pride. Although the Edomites were a "brother" nation through the bloodline of Issac, the Bible records a long history of conflict with Israel. Edom's prideful and hateful heart toward Israel was especially evident when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 587 B.C.: they not only refused to help Israel but actively supported its enemies, participated in the plunder of the city afterward, and cut off the escape of Jewish refugees by turning them back to the Babylonians for slavery and exile. Historical records reveal that the Babylonians turned on the Edomites after defeating Israel and later, they were ejected from their lands by the Nabateans in the 5th century B.C.; finally, in 125 B.C., the remnant of Edom (then known as Idumaeans) ceased to exist when conquered by the Maccabees and absorbed into Judah. Interestingly, Herod the Great, governor of Judea under Rome from 37 B.C., was of Idumaean descent.
Foreshadowings: In v. 21, where Obadiah proclaims that "Saviors (more accurately "deliverers" of salvation) shall go up to Mount Zion to rule Mount Esau, and the kingdom shall be the LORD's," it foreshadows followers of Jesus Christ who spread the Gospel during the end times. These deliverers are not themselves "saviors" (only Jesus can save) but people who show the way of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ as LORD. Obadiah thus foretells a time in the Last Days when all of God's promises to Israel will be fulfilled and Jesus, as the King Messiah, will rule over them.
- Introduction (1a)
- The Judgment of Edom (1b-9)
- The Reason for Judgment (10-14)
- The Day of the LORD (15-21)
Biblical Truth: God is especially angered by those who oppose, oppress, and cause harm to His people (the Children of Israel then but Christians worldwide today). These enemies of God's people can expect judgment rather than restoration at the end of life.
Application: This prophecy focuses on the destructive power of pride with emphasis on the consequences of living your life in a self-centered and self-important manner that demonstrates little regard, compassion, or mercy for the people around you. Even 21st century Christians need to guard themselves from any attitude which prevents them from reaching out to help others in times of need. We have nothing to be proud of except Jesus Christ and what he has done for us.