Obadiah, Scary Prophet

Bible Reference: Book of Obadiah, 1 chapter, 21 verses

Heart of the Story: Primarily the book of Obadiah is a prophecy against the kingdom of Edom (verses 1-15) with a several verses (16-21) allocated to the restoration of the Exiled Jews.

Back Story: Obadiah with its 21 verses is even shorter than Philemon which has 23 verses. Obadiah is the shortest book in the Bible. Most scholars believe that Obadiah wrote from Jerusalem in between 586-553 BC. This time period was after the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians and prior to Babylon’s campaign against Edom. Edom was a country east of the Negev area in the present-day Israel in the Kingdom of Jordan. It was south of Moab. The country of Edom was settled by Esau, twin brother to Jacob (Israel).

Edom was mostly arid. The people lived in high mountain crags. Edomites lived by raiding caravans from Persia to Egypt and/or taking a portion of caravan products in return for allowing caravans to cross their land. The capital city was the mountainous city of Seir.

When the Babylonians laid siege to Jerusalem, Edom did not assist their brothers. Rather, Edom did just the opposite. Edom supported the Babylonians in one of two possible ways. First, the Edomites actually entered Jerusalem as part of the sacking force; or the Edomites waited on the roads as Jerusalemites fled Jerusalem and attack the refugees, that is, stole, raped, and murdered the Jews.

Story Line:  According to the English Standard Version Bible:

  • Edom will be put to shame because of the country’s enmity against the Jews (verse 10).
  • Before God’s coming judgment, every proud human effort at self-security will fail (verse 15).
  • God’s retribution is both strict and fair (verse 15).
  • Restored Israel will experience God’s deliverance, possess the Promised Land, and defeat Edom (verse 17-21).
  • In the future, God will show (manifest) his kingly rule (verse 21).

Pondering Relationships: Obviously, Obadiah did not perceive himself as important; he provided no information about himself, role, tribe. The important fact about Obadiah is that God honored him by giving him a vision to write (verse 1).  We do not know for sure but most likely, Obadiah gave this prophecy as an oral message before he wrote it down.

The reason that Edom was the target of Obadiah’s prophecy was because of Edom’s hostility toward the Jews. Besides being part of the sacking of Jerusalem Edom ridiculed God and perceived that God failed when Jerusalem was sacked (Ezekiel). God has tied himself to the Jews and will punish any one, person or country, who hurts them.

Reflection: The book of Obadiah, frightens me because I see my country being non-supportive of current day Jews.

Copyright: 2/20/2018: Carolyn A. Roth

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