The Book of Obadiah: A Message of Justice, Judgement and Hope
The Book of Obadiah: A Message of Judgment and Hope
Obadiah is one of the twelve "minor prophets" of the Old Testament. Care should be taken to prevent confusing this Obadiah, the author and prophet, with the Obadiah in 1 Kings 18 who protected the 100 prophets from the wicked Queen Jezebel. They are two different men.
Other than the meaning of his name, "Servant of God," little is decisively known about the prophet Obadiah. However, Jewish tradition holds that Obadiah was a convert to Judaism and that he was originally from Edom. Jews believe that he was chosen to prophesy against Edom because of his Edomic heritage.
Obadiah wrote his book, now known as "The Book of Obadiah," shortly after Jerusalem was captured. Unfortunately, it is not known after which of several times Jerusalem was captured that the book was written. Many believe it to have been the capture in 586 BC by the Chaldeans, but it is hard to definitively pinpoint when Obadiah lived, prophesied and authored his book.
A Russian Icon of Obadiah: a Servant of God
Who Was the Book Written to?
The first verse of the Book of Obadiah tells us that Obadiah was recording a vision "concerning Edom."
In Hebrew, "Edom" means red. In Genesis 25:25, we learn that Esau, the brother of Jacob and oldest son of Isaac, was born "red all over." Esau's descendants were known as Edomites in reference to Esau's skin tone at birth.
Edom became a great nation located Southeast of the Dead Sea. It was to this nation that Obadiah prophesied.
Why was Edom Condemned?
Verse 10 of Obadiah says Edom will be covered in shame for their violence against their sister nations, or those that descend from Esau's brother, Jacob. Verse 11 goes on to explain that the Edomites were partially responsible for the capture of Jerusalem and the Jew's mistreatment because the Edomites stood by and watched the city be taken, essentially becoming the ones who had taken Jerusalem captive.
The next few verses tell Edom that they should have helped their brothers and sisters in Judah. However, instead of helping, Edom rejoiced over the destruction of the Kingdom of Judah, spoke proudly over their distress, took their substance in their day of calamity, prevented those who escaping the Chaldeans from escaping, and delivered the Israelites up unto their captives.
Geography of the Ancient Near East
The Curse of Edom
Verse 15 tells us that what the Edomites have done to the Kingdom of Judah will be done to them as a punishment for their mistreatment of their sister nation.
Verse 17 and 19 add that the descendants of Jacob will not be extinguished entirely, but will become a mighty nation once again. And, when they do, they will live in the land of Edom and the people of Edom will be no more.
The Vision of Obadiah
The Fulfillment of Obadiah's Prophesy
We read of the fulfillment of Obadiah's prophesy of the destruction of Edom in 2 Kings 14:7 and 2 Chronicles 25:11-12.
2 Kings 14:7: "He slew of Edom in the valley of salt ten thousand, and took Selah by war, and called the name of it Joktheel unto this day."
2 Chronicles 25:11-12: "And Amaziah strengthened himself, and led forth his people, and went to the valley of salt, and smote of the children of Seir ten thousand. And other ten thousand left alive did the children of Judah carry away captive, and brought them unto the top of the rock, and cast them down from the top of the rock, that they all were broken in pieces."
The Book of Obadiah
Prophesy of the Last Days
The final verse in Obadiah prophesies that in the final days of the earth, when Jesus of Nazareth comes again as King of Kings, the people of Edom will be no more and saviors will come upon the land of Edom and claim it for Jesus and His chosen people, the children of Israel. [The Children of Israel includes both the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah.]