Verse 1. "The vision of Obadiah.
Thus says the Lord God concerning Edom - We have heard a report from
the Lord, and an envoy has been sent among the nations saying, 'Arise
and let us go against her for battle' -"
There were thirteen men
("servant of YHVH – Jehovah") in the Old Testament. Some have attempted
to identify this man with one of those references, but with little success.
The Book of Obadiah does not mention his lineage and no kings of Israel
or Judah are listed. The most likely set of circumstances for the backdrop
of this prophesy is found during the reign of King Jehoram of Judah
(848-841 BC). During his reign, the Philistines and Arabians invaded
Judah (2 Chronicles 21:16-17) and Edom used the opportunity to revolt
and declare their freedom (2 Kings 8:20-22; 2 Chronicles 21:8-20). The
plundering of Jerusalem (verse 11 & context) was likely by the Philistines
between 848 & 841 BC. In that case, Obadiah was a contemporary of Elisha
and he was the first of the writing prophets.
The country of "Edom"
("red”) began with Esau, Jacob’s (Israel’s) red-headed (and hot-headed)
brother. Esau moved to the mountains of Seir and took over a group called
the Horites, absorbing them into his lineage in the process. The Edomites
would not let Israel pass through their territory on the way to Canaan.
The Edomites fought against Saul, the first king of Israel, but were
completely under the subjection of Israel during the reigns of David
and Solomon. The Edomites were forced out of their territory in the
5th Century BC (by the Nabateans) and they moved to South Palestine
where they became known as Idumeans. Herod the Great was the Idumean
king of Judea who would attempt to murder the child Jesus. An Idumean
killed John the Baptist. The descendents of Esau, in their hatred
of Israel, displeased God, and He would send an "envoy,"
saying "Arise and
let us go against her for battle."
Verse 2. "Behold, I will make
you small among the nations; you are greatly despised.”
God delights in making the unlikely
become reality and He also is pleased to reveal unexpected future events
to His servants the prophets. At the time these words in Obadiah were
spoken and then written, Edom was a powerful little nation, protected
by the mountains that surrounded them and by a fierce army. It seemed,
from a human perspective, that they would never be defeated.
One of the great symbols
of Edom’s strength was the rock city of Petra, which was built right
into a mountain. The place was considered impregnable, and yet Edom
would be driven out of their country by the Nabateans, a tribe named
in the Apocrypha, but not in the Bible. The “shame”
of Obadiah verse 10 would come upon them and the result was that they
To be “despised”
by men is difficult, but worse for them, the Edomites were “despised”
by God because of their actions toward Israel – an infinitely greater
Verse 3. "The arrogance of your
heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in the
loftiness of your dwelling place, who say in your heart, 'Who will bring
me down to earth?'”
Almost everyone wants
to do well in life – if possible, you want to succeed in all that you
do. The problem with success is that the person who attains such a condition
begins to exhibit pride, or as this verse calls it – “arrogance.”
Planted deep inside, people everywhere secretly or openly have high
opinions of themselves, and if we do well, that aspect of ourselves
begins to emerge.
The Edomites lived “in
the clefts of the rock,” and they emerged
from their “loftiness” to attack their neighbors whenever it seemed
feasible to do so. A key neighbor was the southern kingdom of Judah.
When Edom did well, they kept attacking, and when things turned out
badly for them, they retreated to “the
clefts of the rock.” The question was in
their hearts: “Who will bring me down to
earth?” and if we have a similar question
in our hearts (“Who will bring me down
to earth?”) we should look at this little
book of Obadiah. The answer to the question is: God will!
Verse 4. "’Though you build
high like the eagle, though you set your nest among the stars, from
there I will bring you down,’ declares the Lord.”
Until the creation of
modern weaponry like rifles, and the pollution which damages their young,
it was nearly impossible to bring down an “eagle.”
Those winged creatures just flew too high and they were too fast for
other creatures (such as humans) to consistently attack them. The people
of Edom, with their mountains, fortresses and armies, felt like an “eagle”
among nations – they could not be defeated, it was felt.
But just like pollution
enters the egg shells of eagles and damages their young, and the advent
of the rifle brought the eagle near extinction, NO ONE is safe from
the judgment of God. As a race, we are on the verge of establishing
colonies on other planets; perhaps even the planets of other "stars."
But we are a race of sinners, under the judgment of God, and just like
Edom, ALL will be brought down. Our hope is not in ourselves, but in
Jesus Christ, God’s Gift of forgiveness and hope for you and me.
Verse 5. "If thieves came to
you, if robbers by night - O how you will be ruined! - Would they not
steal only until they had enough? If grape gatherers came to you, would
they not leave some gleanings?”
Jesus gave us excellent
advice when He warned: “Do not lay up for
yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where
thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19).
Just like the people of Edom learned, everything of this earth will
be lost in an instant. Jesus continued, “but
lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…”
(Matthew 6:20). There were men and women at that time who placed their
faith in the Lord. An example is Obadiah, the writer of this prophesy,
and there were others like him. From the nation of Judah, the
Word of God and salvation in the Person of Jesus Christ would come to
There apparently were
very few or even none in Edom who would “lay
up” those “treasures
in heaven” and they, individually and as
a people, were to be destroyed. Israel and Judah always contained those
who followed the Lord, even in the time of the horrible king Ahab (2
Kings 19:18 & context), but it seems that Edom did not have people of
faith in their country. So, God decreed, “robbers”
would take their nation.
Father, let us no longer
be like the Edomites, trusting in our resources instead of Yours.
Let us instead be men and women of faith, who look to and trust in -
You. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Audio Bible Study – Obadiah 6-10
Verse 6. "O how Esau will be
ransacked, and his hidden treasures searched out!”
The words of this verse
appeared to be impossible at the time they were written, for the mountainous
country of Edom seemed impregnable to those who might think to invade
the place. But this verse is the PROMISE of God through the prophet:
“WILL be ransacked”
- the country was to be robbed of everything it
counted valuable. Everything, you might add, that they had stolen from
their neighbors through raids on their countries. Note that Petra, the
capital of Edom, was a center of trade, and much like a modern bank,
the city contained the “treasures”
of many nations.
This verse, by the way,
had a two-fold purpose: 1) To ENCOURAGE those of Israel, that their
tormentor, Edom, would fall, and 2) To WARN those of Edom (“Esau”)
who might hear of these words and change their ways by trusting in the
Lord. We have the same warning and opportunity available to us today.
All our earthly goods and our reputations will eventually be lost to
us, but the Lord Jesus Himself is our infinitely great inheritance and
He has given Himself to you and me – forever.
Verse 7. "All the men allied
with you will send you forth to the border, and the men at peace with
you will deceive you and overpower you. They who eat your bread will
set an ambush for you. (There is no understanding in him.)”
For centuries, the Chinese
felt SAFE behind the Great Wall of China. “Nothing can happen to us,”
they must have thought, not unlike those who felt SAFE in the mountainous
country of Edom. At the Great Wall in China, the Mongols to the north
simply bribed the guards at the Wall and bought their way through. The
Chinese were complacent in their apparent security, but were destroyed
by deceit. China, like Edom, had “no understanding”
of what was about to occur.
Something deceitful was
about to happen to the Edomites. They would be fooled and overpowered
by their allies, the Nabateans, an Arabian tribe; and the “ambush”
set for them would succeed. There is no wall, no earthly mountain, no
amount of insurance or any human army that has the “understanding”
necessary to keep us safe. Like countless others that have come before,
we need the Lord. He IS “our refuge and
strength” (Psalm 46:1). You only true safety
is in Him.
Verse 8. "’Will I not on that
day,’" declares the Lord, ‘Destroy wise men from Edom and understanding
from the mountain of Esau?’”
The country of "Edom"
not only known for its armies, but it was also noted as a place of wisdom.
The Lord, through the prophet Jeremiah, asked the following question
in a prophesy against Edom: "Is wisdom
no more in Teman? Has counsel perished from the prudent? Has their wisdom
vanished?" (Jeremiah 49:7). "Teman"
was a city in Northeastern Edom, noted at the time for the wisdom of
its leaders and philosophers.
We are seeing in these
verses that the strongholds of this earth (or wherever humanity may
be established in the future) are not sufficient to save us. Military
might is not enough; nor are riches, alliances in the form of treaties
with other nations; and even great wisdom will not do the job.
We need the Lord. Only He can save us on the day of trouble.
He is indeed "the power of God and the
wisdom of God" for us all (1 Corinthians
Verse 9. "Then your mighty men
will be dismayed, O Teman, so that everyone may be cut off from the
mountain of Esau by slaughter.”
You might ask yourself:
How can riches, armies, walls and wisdom help me, in the day when I
am facing earthquakes, tsunamis and hurricanes (a.k.a. cyclones & typhoons)?
The answer is: NOTHING, NO ARMY can save me from a 9.0 earthquake, or
a wall of water or hurricane force winds. There will ALWAYS be
forces greater than we are, and we need the Lord, who alone is greater
than any storm that might come upon us. The armies of "Esau"
would be lured out from the "mountain"
fortress that was the country of Edom, and their "slaughter"
was to be the result.
The men of "Teman,"
a major city of Edom, were noted as philosophers and thinkers, able
to deal, they thought, with anything that came their way. And
note - there is nothing wrong with wisdom. The ability to think
and plan is God's gift which has helped humanity in a multitude of positive
ways. But those who are wise tend to become "proud,"
as it says in Psalm 10:4, an observation that continues in this way:
such a person "does not seek God."
Edom's pride would be overthrown, along with their nation, and then
perhaps some of the survivors would "seek
God," as all of us need to do.
Verse 10. "Because of violence
to your brother Jacob, you will be covered with shame, and you will
be cut off forever.”
Through his descendents,
Esau's hatred of his brother, "Jacob,"
continued through the centuries. The Edomites, who descended from
Esau, attacked and rebelled against the nation Israel (which descended
from Jacob) many times. Herod the Great was the Idumean (Edomite)
king who attempted the murder of the child, Jesus. It was Herod
Antipas (another descendent of Esau) who beheaded John the Baptist.
Esau's hatred continued in surprising forms.
The Edomites were happy
when Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 BC (Psalm 127:7), but ironically,
they died trying (as Idumeans) to defend the place in AD 70, when Jerusalem
was destroyed again. The Edomites, later called the Idumeans,
have never been heard of since that time. As the Lord through
Obadiah foresaw, they as a people would be "cut
off forever" from this earth. It
is hoped that some of them trusted in the Lord when He was here.
Father, no matter who or
what we are, You have made provision for us in Christ Jesus. We
trust in Him and receive Him now. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Audio Bible Study – Obadiah 11-15
Verse 11. "On the day that you
stood aloof, on the day that strangers carried off his wealth, and foreigners
entered his gate and cast lots for Jerusalem - You too were as one of
God is in eternity, not in time
and space as we understand things. The past, present and future
are as one to Him, and the lament against the country of Edom relates
to not only what they had done, but also what they would do. The
Edomites rejoiced when Jerusalem was plundered by the Philistines in
the 800's BC, and they were to be happy when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed
Jerusalem in 586 BC.
Paul the Apostle, speaking
of the "righteous judgment of God,"
noted that "those who practice such things
(unkind, unholy acts)
are worthy of death, not only do the same, but
also APPROVE of those who practice them"
(Romans 1:32). Be careful about the books you read and the movies
you see, because the media tends to glorify sinners and their actions.
It is not only your actions, but also your thoughts that makes you "as
one of them."
Verse 12. "Do not gloat over
your brother's day, the day of his misfortune. And do not rejoice over
the sons of Judah in the day of their destruction; Yes, do not boast
in the day of their distress.”
When you are angry at
somebody; when you're jealous of them, the tendency is to feel bad if
that person does well in life, and to "gloat"
when things go badly for them. God is offering good advice to
the people of Edom in these verses, and this Book of Obadiah was kept
in what we call the "Bible" all these centuries, so we might hear these
words, too. Note that Edom was a people who had little regard
for the God of their ancestor, Abraham, who loved the
Lord. He walked with God, but they, as a group, did not.
Notice that even though
the Edomites were sinners who had no regard for God, He loved them and
sent his prophet to them; to their need. Also, though they were
far from Him, He was not far from them. He knew their tendencies
and their failings. He intimately knew their every thought, even
before they did. He also loved His people, Israel, though He was
about to judge them. To "gloat"
over Israel's fall would displease God greatly. The message to
us is to NEVER "rejoice"
over the fall of others; friends and enemies alike. Instead, pray
for them and if possible, reach over to their need and lift them up.
Verse 13. “Do not enter the
gate of My people in the day of their disaster. Yes, you, do not gloat
over their calamity in the day of their disaster. And do not loot
their wealth in the day of their disaster.”
The preceding verse is
part of God's warning to the country of Edom, that they should not "gloat"
at the downfall of Israel. And now, in this verse, God gives them
another warning: "Do not enter the gate
in the day of their disaster..."
and in addition, Edom is warned to not "loot
their wealth," which they would be tempted
If you or someone you
know finds "calamity"
in their lives, it is time to comfort that person and it is NOT an opportunity
for you or anyone else to enjoy their "disaster."
If somebody drops their wallet or purse, it does not make it yours when
you find it and pick it up. God KNOWS our hearts, our thoughts,
and He knows what we do. He knows EVERYTHING, and He is displeased
by those who "loot"
Verse 14. “Do not stand at the
fork of the road to cut down their fugitives; and do not imprison their
survivors in the day of their distress.”
These verses reveal the
people of Edom's potential and actual thoughts and actions, listing
them in a series of "do not" statements for that people. They
were not to "gloat"
at Israel's impending destruction (verse 12). They were not to
take the opportunity of Israel's downfall to "loot
their wealth" (verse 13). And this
verse is the most serious of all about the CHARACTER of the people of
Edom. In the day of Israel's "distress,"
Edom was expressly FORBIDDEN to kill or imprison (enslave) the Hebrew
survivors that escaped from the disaster at Jerusalem.
The Edomites, who lived in and
from the mountainous passes to the east of Jerusalem, knew all the different
roadways the survivors from Jerusalem would take. God knew the
hearts of the Edomites and what they were capable of doing, if they
had the opportunity. The Lord had a plan for the survivors from
Jerusalem, and to kill them was not part of that plan. The Edomites
should have listened, for their OWN future was at stake. And when
YOU get the chance to help someone, do it. God actually is watching
us all, and in that context, take a look at verse 15...
Verse 15. “For the day of the
Lord draws near on all the nations. As you have done, it will be done
to you. Your dealings will return on your own head.”
There is a "day
of the Lord" that is coming for all of
our plans, our lives, and the nations we live in. That "day"
is growing "near."
And these are the ominous words delivered by Obadiah the Prophet to
the people of Edom: "As you have done,
it will be done to you. Your dealings will return on your own head."
This idea is reflected throughout Scripture: What you do will be "done
From these verses, it should
be apparent to us all that it is sane and rational for all people everywhere
to be kind, gentle and encouraging to one another. Malice, cruelty
and just plain meanness are irrational responses. What you do
today is like a seed of hatred that is planted in the ground.
Though you may not see the results today or tomorrow, that seed will
grow and the hatred you brought into this world will fill your life
and the lives of those you love. Give yourself to the Lord; let
Him change you into a person who loves - He will like the result and
so will you.
Lord, change us from people
who gloat over the fall of others and make us into men and women who
receive and transmit Your love. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Audio Bible Study – Obadiah 16-21
Verse 16. “Because just as you
drank on My holy mountain, all the nations will drink continually. They
will drink and swallow and become as if they had never existed.”
All the nations of this
world are like the prisoners on what is called "death row." There
is no escape. The Lord spoke to the prophet Jeremiah in this manner:
"Take this wine cup of fury from My hand,
and cause ALL the nations, to whom I send you, to drink it."
And then the Lord through Jeremiah named a series of nations that would
be included in this judgment. Among them was the nation "Edom"
(Jeremiah 25:15 and forward).
The list ends with these
words: "I will call for a sword on all
the inhabitants of the earth" (Jeremiah
25:29). The direction of the prophesy we are reading in Obadiah
is against the nation called "Edom,"
and the Lord is offended, deeply offended against them, "Because
of violence to (their)
as stated in Obadiah 10. "Jacob"
in this context is the nation Israel, a people created by God.
Those who attack God's loved ones will "become
as if they had never existed."
Verse 17. “But on Mount Zion
there will be those who escape, and it will be holy. And the house of
Jacob will possess their possessions.”
The term "Mount
Zion" in this verse referred to the area
of the city of Jerusalem, a place surrounded by the tribe of Judah,
which (with the tribe of Benjamin) became the nation "Judah" when the
ten northern tribes of Israel ("Jacob")
broke off on their own. Jerusalem has been so utterly destroyed
through the centuries that it would seem impossible; yet many Jews would
would be known as a "holy"
place once more.
It is interesting that
the "house of Jacob"
does, once more "possess
of the land that is again called Israel. And we should all take
heart by the fact that they do. For those who are called by the
Lord; God Himself will restore that which is lost. You can entrust
yourself and all you have to Him. He will protect your interests,
now and forever.
Verse 18. “’Then the house of
Jacob will be a fire and the house of Joseph a flame; but the house
of Esau will be as stubble, and they will set them on fire and consume
them, so that there will be no survivor of the house of Esau,’ for the
Lord has spoken.”
of Jacob" in this verse refers to the nation
composed of the Hebrew tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and the "house
of Joseph" was a reference to the ten tribes
to the north that called themselves "Israel."
Great troubles have come upon the Jews through the centuries, which
were like a "fire"
and a "flame"
applied to them. But they would survive, as it has been for thousands
would touch others as well. You can look around the world today
and find many who are called "Jews"
(named for the tribe of Judah, son of "Jacob"),
but no one can be found who can confidently testify that they have descended
Jacob's brother. God wants us to live with Him in eternity, and
those like Esau, who was physically strong, but seemed to have no interest
in the Lord, will not survive. Jacob was weaker physically, but
he looked to the Lord.
Verse 19. “Then those of the
Negev will possess the mountain of Esau, and those of the Shephelah
the Philistine plain; also, they will possess the territory of Ephraim
and the territory of Samaria, And Benjamin will possess Gilead.”
- "dry place")
was the desert region to the south of Judah originally owned by the
Amalakites (Numbers 13:29). It was allotted to the tribe of Simeon
(Joshua 19:1-9), but it was occupied by Judah and "Simeon
had their inheritance within the inheritance of that people"
(Joshua 19:9). "Shephelah"
was the low country along the Mediterranean that had been occupied for
centuries by the Philistines.
was a Hebrew tribe to the north and "Samaria"
was a region also to the north. The tribe of "Benjamin"
became affiliated with the tribe of Judah, and "Gilead"
was the area east of the Jordan River between Galilee and the Dead Sea.
originally given to the Reubenites, Gadites and Manasseh (Deuteronomy
3:13). This verse is a prophesy that Judah would predominate and
possess all those areas, as they do today.
Verse 20. “And the exiles of
this host of the sons of Israel, who are among the Canaanites as far
as Zarephath, and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad will possess
the cities of the Negev.”
was the town where Elijah resided during the last half of the drought
(1 Kings 17:9 & forward), and it is mentioned in Luke 4:26, using the
Greek name "Sarepta."
The ruins of that place are in the country of Lebanon, about 8 miles
south of Sidon and 14 miles north of Tyre. Jewish captors were
taken there to be held and then sold into slavery, where they were shipped
in chains to ports all around the Mediterranean Sea.
occurs only in this place and it is not found elsewhere in the Bible.
The word is closely related to an Assyrian word for "boundary,"
and may refer to the fact that Jewish slaves were sent to the boundaries
of the known world. The Jewish exiles in Spain, the "end" of the
world at that time, were known as "Sephardim."
The point of this verse is that the "exiles"
of Israel would at last come home and occupy the area of the "Negev,"
as they do today.
Verse 21. “The deliverers will
ascend Mount Zion to judge the mountain of Esau, and the kingdom will
be the Lord’s.”
From eternity, it has
been God's intention that the nation Israel is to occupy the "kingdom"
known as the "Holy Land." The Lord made certain promises to Abraham,
which were passed through his son, Isaac, and Abraham's grandson, Jacob
(also known as Israel), that have never been revoked, nor will they
ever be. "Mount Zion"
originally was the name of one of the hills of Jerusalem and it came
to be a name for the whole city, especially the temple mount.
It also has been extended
to the "heavenly Jerusalem"
(Hebrews 12:22) and heaven itself (Revelation 14:1). Ultimately
ALL nations will be judged, not only the descendents of "Esau;"
- all individuals will be judged as well. The "deliverers"
are faithful servants of God, whether angelic or human. In Revelation
21:9-10, the "bride, the Lamb's wife,"
is described as the "great city, the holy
Jerusalem." It is more than a city,
it is a people, and you become a part of all this, when you place your
faith in the Lord.
Father, let us be a part
of Your kingdom - forever. Forgive us our sins. We place
our trust in Your Son. Thank You, Father. We praise Your
Holy Name. In Jesus Name. Amen.