The book of Obadiah is the shortest Book in the Old Testament, just 21 verses. We read it in just a few minutes. At first glance, it appears to be nothing but an insignificant prophecy of doom against the ancient nation of Edom, which has long ago disappeared from history.
But, you ask, what do you or I have to do with Edom? Edom is a nation buried in the rubble of the past, what has it to do with us now in the 21st century in Nairobi? Yet, the very fact that this little Book finds its place in the inspired Scripture, breathed out by God, sufficiently tells us that its message is for us. For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Rom 15:4)
There are 13 men in the Old Testament named Obadiah. The name means "servant of the Lord," or “worshipper of the Lord.” Like a true servant and worshipper of God, Obadiah keeps himself in the background, in utter obscurity so that there is very little information known about him – what should be known about the servant anyway? This is one of the reasons, I believe, there is wisdom in the preacher not introducing himself with so many words. I would rather you say nothing about you, but be faithful about the One who sent you. It is His business anyway!
Yes... for Obadiah, it is His Master, our God who matters! He faithfully brings us His Word. He simply steps onto the stage of history, delivers God’s message, and steps down and back into obscurity. In fact, Obadiah’s only purpose and intent as God’s prophet was to deliver God’s message, that is all! What a noble example this is to all who are responsible of speaking to eternity bound sinners as God’s messengers! Those who are constantly thrusting themselves forward, building their own names need to be instructed from this message.
In this first part I will give you a very basic outline of these 21 verses and show you a few passage from the Bible in order to shed some light on the book. Then in the second message, I will give very pointed application points.
• Vv.1-9: God’s judgment upon Edom. They were proud, thinking they were secure and invincible. But Edom was the object of God’s unwavering wrath and must be destroyed.
• Vv. 10-14: The justice of that judgment. Edom was destroyed because of their proud and cruel treatment of God’s people Israel.
• Vv. 15 &16: The result of God’s judgment upon the proud nation. The Edomites were crushed by Nebuchadnezzar. By the time the Romans conquered Jerusalem, Edom was but a name in history.
• Vv. 17-21: The sure salvation for the Israel of God. Obadiah tells Edom (the house of Esau) of the sure and certain salvation of Israel (“the house of Jacob”).
But what is Obadiah’s message to us? What is the meaning of this prophecy? What does the Spirit of God here teach us? Let’s read a few passages from the Inspired BOOK and it will become clear (Gen. 3:15; Mal. 1:2-5; Rom. 9:11-18). Remember, Edom is the whole house of Esau and Israel is the whole house of Jacob, his younger brother, the object of God’s everlasting love, mercy, and grace.
Gen 3:15: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." Though the seed of the serpent hates, persecutes, and constantly bruises the heel of the woman’s Seed, the Seed of the woman (Christ and his body the Church of God’s elect), shall ultimately and eternally crush the serpent’s head and his seed.
Mal. 1:2-5: "I have loved you," says the LORD. But you say, "How have you loved us?" "Is not Esau Jacob's brother?" declares the LORD. "Yet I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert." If Edom says, "We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins," the LORD of hosts says, "They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called 'the wicked country,' and 'the people with whom the LORD is angry forever.'" Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, "Great is the LORD beyond the border of Israel!"
All advantages, either as to outward circumstances, or spiritual privileges, come from the free love of God, who makes one to differ from another. All the troubles sinners feel and fear, are the just recompense of their crimes. On the other hand, all their hopes and comforts are from the unmerited mercy of the Lord. He chose his people for salvation before the foundation of the world, so that they might be holy and blameless before Him. If we love him, it is because he has first loved us; yet we all are prone to undervalue the mercies of God, and to excuse our own offences.
Rom. 9:11-18: And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls—she was told, "The older will serve the younger." As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
We must realize that the rejection of the Jews by the gospel dispensation, did not break God's promise to the patriarchs. The promises and threatening shall be fulfilled at His appointed time. Grace does not run in the blood; nor are saving benefits always found with outward church privileges. Not only some of Abraham's seed were chosen, and others not, but God worked according to the counsel of his own will. Remember that He is in heaven and He does whatsoever He pleases.
God in His absolute sovereignty foresaw both Esau and Jacob as born in sin, by nature children of wrath even as all others including you and I. If left to ourselves we would have continued in sin through this life. However, for His wise and holy reasons, not made known to us, He purposed to change Jacob's heart, and to leave Esau to his perverseness to display both His grace and justice respectively. This instance of Esau and Jacob throws light upon the Divine conduct to the fallen race of man. The whole Scripture shows the difference between the professed Christian and the real believer. Outward privileges are bestowed on many who are not the children of God. There is, however, full encouragement to diligent use of the means of grace which God has appointed for those so graciously endowed that He May work in us to will to do the good pleasure of His will.
This is something that ought to cause all of us to bow in worship as we ejaculate with Apostle Paul;
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!