Who wrote it?
Obadiah verse 1 identifies the author as the Prophet Obadiah.
When(ish) was it written?
The book of Obadiah was likely written between 848 and 840 BC.
Why was it written?
Obadiah, the shortest book in the Old Testament, is only 21 verses long. Obadiah is a prophet of God who uses this opportunity to condemn Edom for sins against both God and Israel. The Edomites are descendants of Esau and the Israelites are descendants of his twin brother, Jacob. A quarrel between the brothers has affected their descendants for over 1,000 years. This division caused the Edomites to forbid Israel to cross their land during the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt. Edom’s sins of pride now require a strong word of judgment from the Lord.
Some Key Verses
Though you soar aloft like the eagle, though your nest is set among the stars, from there I will bring you down, declares the Lord.
– Obadiah 4
But do not gloat over the day of your brother in the day of his misfortune; do not rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their ruin; do not boast in the day of distress.
– Obadiah 12
For the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations. As you have done, it shall be done to you; your deeds shall return on your own head.
– Obadiah 15
A Quick Summary
Obadiah’s message is final and it is sure: the kingdom of Edom will be destroyed completely. Edom has been arrogant, gloating over Israel’s misfortunes, and when enemy armies attack Israel and the Israelites ask for help, the Edomites refuse and choose to fight against them, not for them. These sins of pride can be overlooked no longer. The book ends with the promise of the fulfillment and deliverance of Zion in the Last Days when the land will be restored to God’s people as He rules over them.
Verse 21 of Obadiah contains a foreshadowing of Christ and His Church, “saviors shall go up to Mount Zion to rule Mount Esau, and the kingdom shall be the Lord’s.” These “saviors” (also called “deliverers” in several versions) are the apostles of Christ, ministers of the word, and especially the preachers of the Gospel in these latter days. They are called “saviors,” not because they obtain our salvation, but because they preach salvation through the Gospel of Christ and show us the way to obtain that salvation. They, and the Word preached by them, are the means by which the good news of salvation is delivered to all men. While Christ is the only Savior who alone came to purchase salvation, and is the author of it, saviors and deliverers of the Gospel will be more and more in evidence as the end of the age draws near.
What does this mean?
God will overcome on our behalf if we will stay true to Him. Unlike Edom, we must reflect Christ and be willing to help others in times of need. We have nothing to be proud of except Jesus Christ and what He has done for us.
Take a few minutes to read aloud the Scripture from Obadiah (the whole book). What verses or ideas stand out to you from these passages? What questions do you have? What “next step” are you considering as a result of your interaction with God’s Word?
Obadiah says, “Your arrogant heart has deceived you.” In what ways are you tempted with pride to believe that you can sustain yourself? Obadiah mentions security, crew (powerful friends), power, wisdom, and money/possessions. When are you tempted to trust more in yourself than in God?
Obadiah mentions eight “do not” statements that deal with our temptation to be boastful, vindictive, or to rejoice in the failure of others. Do you struggle with these? When are these temptations the strongest?
When Obadiah says, “But, there will be a deliverance on Mt. Zion,” through the house of Jacob, he’s referring to Jesus. Take a few moments to thank God for fulfilling His promises, that through Jesus, He has delivered us in spite of our pride and boastfulness.