The book of Obadiah had only one chapter... twenty-one verses. It is the shortest book in the Old Testament. Not much is known about the author. Obadiah means, "worshiper of the LORD". The book of Obadiah is a poem, written in the form of a funeral dirge of those times.
Historically, Edom had harassed the Jews, constantly attacking Judah, the southern portion of Israel. Because of their seemingly invincible fortress, built into the high cliffs of their mountainous country, the Edomites felt that they could get away with their constant attacks.
|photo courtesy of Ruth and Frank Harmon|
The Edomites were prideful and overly self-confident. Complacent. But, God had other ideas. God judges those who harm His people. Obadiah was sent to warn Edom of their upcoming judgement and destruction, but the Edomites did not heed the warning. Obadiah even told them the reason for their upcoming judgement - their arrogance toward God and their cruelty and persecution towards God's people. When you read the book of Obadiah, you begin to see the underlying message of what it means to be a child of God: our heavenly Father wants to protect us.
Sadly, the Edomites and the Israelites were blood relatives. The two groups of people descended from twin brothers - Esau and Jacob. But, just as these brothers fought constantly when they were alive, so did their descendants. Now, God was pronouncing judgement on Edom's malicious behavior. The Edomites were extremely prideful; they were proud of their city which was carved into the rock cliffs. (This city was probably what is known today as Petra - a magnificent city discovered by archaeologists in 1812.) Petra was known for its wise men. But, there is a difference between the wisdom of men and the wisdom of God.. These people thought they were too smart to need God; they mocked Him. Again, pride was their downfall... We should never think that we can get away with sin... "Oh, nobody will ever know." God's character is that He is completely moral, completely just. He will eventually see to it that justice prevails.
Of all Israel/Judah's neighbors, Edom was the only one God completely wiped out. This was because the Edomites had robbed and looted the holy city of Jersualem, and had rejoiced over the Israelites' misfortunes.
The book of Obadiah was probably written around 600 BC. Edom was destroyed in 164 BC. Edom may have seemed impregnable, and it may have seemed as if Israel/Judah would be more likely to be destroyed. But Edom vanished and Israel still exists.
Edom is an example to all nations - of all times. If a nation is hostile to God, it will be punished no matter how powerful they might appear to be.
Likewise, we as individuals can not permit ourselves to become complacent because of wealth, power, knowledge, or technology. As soon as we begin to think that we are "above" others and that we are not obligated to help God's children, we are failing God and will be punished - if we don't repent.
Obadiah 1:3,4 reads: "The pride of your heart had deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, 'Who can bring me down to the ground?' Though you soar like the eagle and make your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down.", declares the LORD.