Obadiah 1:1 The vision of Obadiah.
Obadiah is the shortest book in the Old Testament. It was probably written after the fall of Jerusalem, in 586 BC, by an otherwise unknown prophet whose name means, servant of the Lord. It is a prophecy against the nation of Edom, which was located in the mountainous region southeast of the Dead Sea, next to Judah.
When Judah was attacked and destroyed by the Babylonians, the Edomites sided with the Babylonians. By attacking God’s people, they were attacking God himself, and came under his judgment.
The Edomites and Israelites were ancient enemies whose feud began in their mother’s womb. When Rebekah was pregnant with twins, The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, Why is this happening to me? (Genesis 25:22). The Lord said to her, Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger (Genesis 25:23).
The firstborn child was Esau, and he became the father of the Edomites. The second born child was Jacob, and he became the father of the Israelites. God gave his opinion of the two nations when he said: I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his hill country into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals (Malachi 1:2-3).
When Israel journeyed to the Promised Land, they asked the Edomites for safe passage. But Edom answered: You may not pass through here; if you try, we will march out and attack you with the sword.
The Israelites replied: We will go along the main road, and if we or our livestock drink any of your water, we will pay for it. We only want to pass through on foot—nothing else.
Again they answered: You may not pass through. Then Edom came out against them with a large and powerful army. Since Edom refused to let them go through their territory, Israel turned away from them (Numbers 20:18-21).
Even though they were brother nations, Edom opposed Israel. They did this before and after Israel entered the Promised Land. Edom is like all the enemies of God. They may flourish for awhile, but will be defeated eventually.
Obadiah 1:3 The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, Who can bring me down to the ground?
Edom was known for dwelling in mountain caves, thousands of feet above the ground. It was an inconvenient place to live, but they considered it worth the trouble because it made them feel secure.
Security is one of our greatest needs, and we will go to great lengths to achieve it. We will store up money to protect us from poverty. We will buy insurance to protect us from calamity. And we will buy alarms to protect us from intruders. But security apart from God is pure illusion because disaster can strike at any moment.
This is why the Bible tells us to find our security in God. Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him (Deuteronomy 33:12), wrote Moses. Blessed are all who take refuge in him (Psalm 2:12), wrote the Psalmist. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish (John 10:28), said Jesus. Jesus is the only one who can provide the eternal security everyone longs for. Whoever belongs to him can face the future fearlessly.
Obadiah 1:13-14 You should not march through the gates of my people in the day of their disaster, nor gloat over them in their calamity in the day of their disaster, nor seize their wealth in the day of their disaster. You should not wait at the crossroads to cut down their fugitives, nor hand over their survivors in the day of their trouble.
God was using the Babylonians to punish his people for apostasy. But instead of supporting their brother nation, the Edomites gloated over them, seized their wealth, killed some, and handed over others to the Babylonians. Remember, Lord, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell. Tear it down, they cried, tear it down to its foundations! (Psalm 137:7), recalled the Psalmist.
God finally had enough, so he decided the Edomites should be destroyed forever (Obadiah 1:10). They began to suffer defeat almost immediately, and were gradually displaced by the Nabateans. By the end of the first century the Edomites were no more.
It is never appropriate to gloat, or take advantage of others in the day of their disaster. The Christian response is just the opposite. Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6:27-28), said Jesus.
A terrorist group attacked American soldiers on foreign soil. One of the terrorists was captured, and was dying due to loss of blood. When a medical unit requested volunteers to donate blood, ten American soldiers lined up to save their enemy’s life. This is how believers should treat their enemies on the day of their disaster.
Obadiah 1:17 But on Mount Zion will be deliverance; it will be holy, and Jacob will possess his inheritance.
The Babylonians defeated God’s people and carried them into exile. But there they found hope in an ancient promise. [W]hen you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you (Deuteronomy 30:2-3), wrote Moses.
And that is exactly what happened. Several decades after they were exiled to Babylon, God’s people returned to the Promised Land. God kept his word through Moses, echoed by Obadiah: Jacob will possess his inheritance.
Obadiah 1:21 And the kingdom will be the Lord’s.
Repossessing the Promised Land was a small example of what will happen when Christ returns. The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord (Revelation 11:15), wrote John. The Promised Land of the Old Testament will be enlarged to cover the whole world, and Jesus will rule forever. The world belongs to God, and he is taking it back. [T]he kingdom will be the Lord’s.
Reflection and Review
Who were the Edomites?
How does Jesus Christ make us secure?
Why should Christians treat their enemies well?