OBADIAH

A Bible Study

The Author

The author's name is Obadiah, which means "servant (or worship) of the Lord" His was a common name as is found in many other places in the Old Testament (1 Kings 18:3-16; 1 Chronicles 3:21; 7:3; 8:38; 9:16; 12:9; 27:19; Ezra 8:9; Nehemiah 10:5; 12:25) Neither his father's name nor the place of his birth is given in this book.

The Date and Place of Writing

The date and place of the composition of this book is disputed. Dating the prophecy is mainly a matter of relating verses 11-14 to one of two specific events in Israel's history.

1. The invasion of Jerusalem by Philistines and Arabs during the reign of King Jehoram (853-841 BC); (cf. 2 Kings 8:20-22; 2 Chronicles 21:8-20). In this case, Obadiah would be a contemporary of the prophet Elisha.

2. The Babyionian attacks on Jerusalem (605-586 BC) If we take this date then Obadiah would be a contemporary of the prophet Jeremiah. For our study we will take this second date.

We can find a parallel between Obadiah 1-9 and Jeremiah 49:7-22. Some have said that there must be some interdependence between Obadiah and Jeremiah. What we are more comfortable in saying is that both prophets lived at the same time, were speaking of the same things, and therefore were used by the Lord to preach the same message. If they used a common source it is not at this time known to us however the Holy Spirit inspired them to say what they said to their hearers. Because both prophets are inspired their message is for us as well.

The Theme of the Writing

The Edomites were descendants of Esau. They lived in an area from the southern end of the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Akaba, a mountainous area about 110 miles long and 30 miles wide. They were always bitter enemies of Judah and Israel.

Edom, proud over her own security, has gloated over Israel's devastation by foreign powers. However, Edom's participation in that disaster will bring on God's wrath. She herself will be destroyed, but Mount Zion and Israel will be delivered, and God's kingdom will triumph.

Edom's hostile activities have spanned the centuries of Israel's existence. We see that the Edomites and the Israelites are related in verse 10. Therefore, Edom's hostility is all the more reprehensible. Edom is fully responsible for her failure to assist Israel. She is also guilty of open aggression. The fact that God rejected Esau (Genesis 25:23; Malachi 1:3; Romans 9:13) in no way exonerates the Edomites. Edom, smug in its mountain strongholds, will be dislodged and sacked. Israel will prosper because God is with her.

The two great teachings of Obadiah

1. "As you have done, it shall be done to you" (verse 15)

2. "Upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness." (verse 17) As a result, "The kingdom shall be the Lord's." (verse 21)

Outlines

Verses

E-dom's doom prophesied 1-9
S-ins Or the Edomites 10-14
A-ccountability of all nations 15-16
U-ltimate restoration of Israel 17-21

I. Title and Introduction (1)

II. Judgment on Edom (2-14)

A. Edom's Destruction Announced (2-7)

1. The humbling of her pride (2-4)
2. The conpleteness of her destruction (5-7)

B. Edom's Destruction Reaffirmed (8-14)

1. Her shame and destruction (8-10)
2. Her crimes against Israel (11-14)

III The Day Or the Lord (15-21)

A Judgment on the Nations but Deliverance for Zion (15-18)

B. The Lord's Kingdom Established (19-21)

 

Verses 1-14 The Guilt and Doom of Edom

I. Title and Introduction

verse 1 "We have heard a message from the Lord..." Who is this "we"? There are a few answers.

(a.) It is the editorial "we"
(b.) It is the prophet's association of Israel with himself
(c.) It is other prophet's pronouncements against Edom.

In any case it looks bad for Edom! What will follow in the next verses is the prophetic message which Obadiah has been given.

An envoy has been sent to the nations, calling them to battle against Edom. Perhaps a conspiracy was under way between some of Edom's allies (cf. verse 7) Although Edom feels secure, trusting in her mountain fortresses and her wise men, (verses 2-4; 8-9) Obadiah announces God's Judgment on her for her hostility to Israel As we have seen in the introduction these verses are identical with Jer.49:7-16. The relationship between the two remains an unsolved problem.

II. Judgment on Edom

In verses 2-14 it is the Lord Himself who speaks...

verse 2 "I will make you small" is like the expression "I will cut you down to size" or "I will take you down a peg". Here the Lord is going to act.

verse 3 Sela was the capital of Edom. Both the word Sela and Petra mean "rock" or cliff. This rugged site is located some 50 miles south of the southern end of the Dead Sea.

verse 4 "Though you soar like the eagle and make your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down" declares the Lord. The eagle was a proud and regal bird noted for strength, keenness of vision and power of flight Our nation's bird is the eagle. The reference to the "stars" could be a hyperbole for high inaccessible places in the mountains. Edom may trust in her strength and her well guarded strongholds but she can not escape the arm of the Lord.

verses 5-6 The comparison with "thieves" and "grape gatherers" points up how completely devastating God's Judgment on Edom will be. The past tenses in verse 6 and those in verse ~ are prophetic. Edom's doom is so sure that it is viewed as already accomplished

verse 7 "Those who eat bread with you" are your friends. We get our word "COM-PANION" from this understanding ..(Latin "cum" 'with' and "panis" 'bread') The allies do not provide asylum for Edom's fugitives. Since the Edomites had a reputation for wisdom, there is no understanding how they could have been so thoroughly deceived in their allies. Even their blindness is a part of God's Judgment on them.

verse 8 "In that day..." is a reference to the day of Edom'a destruction. These words can also be seen as having a future ring to them. Since in Old Testament prophecy Edom was often a reference to all world powers which were hostile to God and His kingdom the Judgment of Edom anticipates God's complete removal of all opposition. The "wise men" in whom Edom put her trust and confidence for security will not help.

verse 9 Teman is the name of one of the clans descended from Esau. It is also a reference to the territory which they occupied. The word Teman means "south" and is thus a reference to those who dwell in the southern most region of Edom. There are some who identify Teman with Tawilan, a site about three miles east of Petra.

verses 10-14 This description of Edom's behavior at the fall of Jerusalem is so vivid and dramatic that most scholars see in it the recollection of a recent event in history, one which would be fresh in the minds of the readers. This is what leads most to believe that Obadiah prophesied not iong after 586 BC when Jerusalem fell.

Verses 15-21 The Day of The Lord is Near

III The Day Or the Lord

Obadiah proclaims that for this violence done to a brother (Jerusalem) Edom shall be visited with shame and destruction: "As you have done, it shall be done to you" (verse 15) The Judgment on Edom will be a token and prediction of the ultimate universal Judgment on the Day of the Lord; then He will, in Judgment and deliverance, establish His manifest and eternal royal reign.

verse 15 The Lord will visit the deeds of the Edomites upon their heads. This just requital is a token and an antlcipation of the great and final "day of wrath when God's righteous Judgment will be revealed" and He "will render Judgment to every man according to his works" (Romans 2:5-6). The "day of the Lord" is near for all nations. The day of the Lord brings Judgment for the nations and salvation for the house of Israel. The punishment is for Edom but it is not limited to Edom. Likewise, salvation is also for all who have true faith in Christ.

verse 16 "Just as you drank" As the Edomites profaned the holy mountain by carousing, so the nations will drink and drink. Their drinking however, is that of the bitter potion of God's Judgment--which they will be compelled to keep on drinking. In the Bible drinking as punishment is not a new understanding. We see this in Psalms 11:6; 75:8; Isaiah 51:17,22; Jeremiah 25:15; 49:12; Habakkuk 2:15-16; Ezekiel 23:31-33; Zechariah 12:2; Matthew 20:22; John 18:11; Revelation 14:10; 16:19.

verse 17 There is a hint here that God's people shall be both delivered from their enemies and cleansed Or their sins. Mount Zion "shall be holy" no longer disfigured by the people's sins but wholly devoted to the Lord. (cf. verse 21)

verse 18 "Jacob...Joseph" Previously it was stated that the Lord would destroy Edom, using other nations (v.7); now it is to be done by God's people. Notice here there will be no survivors. The rina1 word to Esau is that his house (nation) will be totally destroyed; there will be no Edomite survivors. The house of Jacob signifies the southern kingdom; the house of Joseph, the northern kingdom. A reunited people will serve God's purpose :

verses 19-20 The southern Israelites (Negeb) will possess Edom; the western Israelites (Shephelah) will occupy Philistia; the rest (Benjamin) will occupy the territories of Ephraim and Samaria to the north and Gilead (east of the Jordan) A united people (17) augmented by the returning exiles (20) will overflow the borders of the land promised to the fathers.

Halah is a city, or district, of the Assyrian Empire to which captives of the ten (northern) tribes were deported in 722 BC (2 Kings 17:6; 18:11) Zarephath is a Phoenician city situated between Tyre and Sidon; it represents the northern limit of the restored people's expansion into Phoenician territory. The identity of Sepharad is uncertain.

verse 21 This verse is most important for an understanding of the prophecy of Obadiah. The term "savior" marks the judgment on Edom as God's business and the deliverance of Israel as God's work. Savior is used in the Old Testament for those deliverers whom the Lord raises up, empowers with His Spirit, and leads to victory, against all human probabilities, when Israel in desperation and repentance "cries to the Lord". The story of Gideon is a good illustration of what is meant by savior.

The closing statement (the kingdom shall be the Lord's) gives all glory to God. His is the victory not Israel's. His is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. This savior points us to Christ. We, living on earth now after Christ has come can learn of Obadiah to believe in, and to pray for the coming of the Kingdom as Obadiah did in the days of the Exile, days as dark and as hopeless as any that the New Testament church has yet come to know. "Come Lord Jesus...Come!"

Discussion

1. What hope was there for the people of Edom?

2. What does the truth: "The kingdom shall be the Lord's" mean to you, to us today?

3. We hear today about atrocities in war, in human beings dealing with one another. What does the message have to say regarding such acts?

4 Where is the Gospel in the message of Obadiah?

So ends our study of the book of Obadiah.

Sources

Concordia Self Study Bible New International Version Robert G. Hoerber Editor Concordia Publishing House St. Louis, MO. 1986 pp.1365-1366

Concordia Self Study Commentary, Martin H. Franzmann Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO. 1979 pp. 616-617

Eldor Haake, Obadiah The Prophet of Retribution Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Moline, IL. 1980