Not much is known about the prophet Obadiah. But his name means servant of the Lord, so we know he was obedient to his calling as a prophet. He was known by God and that is what matters most.
The book of Obadiah is the shortest book in the Old Testament and concerns the judgment of Edom. The nation of Edom descended from Jacob’s twin brother Esau. Here in Obadiah, we learn how jealousy, hatred, and pride consumed this nation.
Bitterness can lodge in our hearts, too, hurting those around us for generations if we allow our circumstances to dictate how we act and how we think.
Welcome to Hearts Unto Wisdom
A Bible Study of the Minor Prophets
I thank you for joining me as I share biblical insight into the twelve books commonly referred to as the ‘Minor Prophets’. These Old Testament books, starting with Hosea and ending with Malachi, are minor only in regards to their length, and not because they lack significance.
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Psalm 90:12
[Underlines, brackets, and words in bold are added for emphasis to scripture verses throughout this study.]
Most of us are familiar with the story in Genesis chapter 25. Esau, desperately hungry, willingly gave up his inheritance to his brother Jacob for a bowl of soup. He did not regard his status as the firstborn with respect (was it too much of a burden?) and was more concerned with right now than with his future. Later, when he would have inherited, it was unreachable and he lamented his decision bitterly.
We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Been more concerned with our present feelings and desire for possessions than with how that desire not will affect our future. Mistakes and their consequences go together like birds in a nest. We may not feel the impact of our wrong choices right away, but it will come and we will have to live with it.
Although Esau was rejected as the firstborn, God did not forget Esau entirely but gave him and his people Mount Seir for a possession (Deuteronomy 2:5). Hundreds of years later, when the children of Israel plodded through the wilderness after God brought them forth from Egypt, they were specifically told not to meddle with Esau and that they would not inhabit or possess any part of their land. God commanded them not to abhor an Edomite (Deuteronomy 23:7).
Pride deceives everyone
Pride is an insidious sin. It’s what turned Lucifer into Satan and what destroys Babylon in Revelation 18. Likewise, Edom fell to this same sickness.
The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground? Obadiah 1:3
Mountains are strategic strongholds in times of war. Being able to look down and see what’s coming gives you the advantage. But a physical advantage won’t save you if God says otherwise, neither will physical wealth.
Our pride gives the glory of our beauty and accomplishments to ourselves, not where it rightfully belongs—to God.
God commanded the Israelites in Deuteronomy 24:21 not to take all the bounty of their harvests but to leave a little for the strangers. Yet, in Obadiah 5 Edom is described as not having the compassion of robbers to steal only as much as the could carry or gather grapes and drop a few for others. Edom was as heartless as that. But nothing is hidden with God.
How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up! Obadiah 1:6
Obadiah wasn’t the only prophet of old to speak against Edom. Jeremiah 49:7-22 has an almost word-for-word pronouncement against Edom. Ezekiel, Malachi, and Amos also prophesied against Edom.
Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he did pursue his brother with the sword, and did cast off all pity, and his anger did tear perpetually, and he kept his wrath for ever. Amos 1:11
The story of Jacob and Esau
Where did the resentment and hatred come from that Edom harbored against Israel? How did it all begin?
For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth; It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. Romans 9:11-13
Hatred for Jacob consumed Esau when Jacob took away the blessing of the firstborn from their father Isaac through deceit. Look at all the negative emotions and the repercussions that spurred from the players of this story and the next generation:
• Jealousy (Esau)
• anger and hatred (Esau)
• deception and lying (Jacob and Rebekah, his mother)
• favoritism (Isaac and Rebekah, parents)
• spite (Esau, purposely marrying heathen women)
• envy (Esau and Leah, Jacob’s first wife)
• more jealousy (Rachel, Jacob’s second wife)
• one-upmanship (Rachel and Leah, sisters).
Human nature at its worst. Animosity and bitterness carried over from generation to generation.
Esau resented Jacob for the favor God extended to his brother. Later, the nation of Edom acted upon that resentment. Do we do likewise? Do we feel resentment toward a brother or sister in Christ because of their perceived favor with God? Are they blessed with the blessings we seek but do not have?
Esau resented Jacob for the favor God extended to his brother. Do we do likewise? Do we feel resentment toward a brother or sister in Christ because of their perceived favor with God? Are they blessed with the blessings we seek but do not have?
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears. Hebrews 12:14-17
The name Jacob means supplanter or heel-catcher in Hebrew. To seize by the heel means to circumvent or restrain. Jacob was chosen by God from the time he was in the womb of Rebekah to take the birthright from Esau.
But God did not need Rebekah and her son Jacob to deceive Isaac to make that happen. Just like Sarah‘s impatience to conceive led her to make a grave mistake and rush things by handing over her handmaid Hagar to Abram. This created a whole nest of trouble with the birth of Ishmael who later became the modern-day Islamic nations.
How often do we step in and try to make something happen ahead of God only to make things much, much worse?
The bitterness that started with Esau never left the nation of Edom. In Numbers 20:18-21 we learn this in a gruesome way.
When king Saul lost favor with God for his disobedience, he sought to kill his successor David.
David fled the anger of Saul and sought refuge among the priests in Jerusalem as well as the neighboring city of Nob. King Saul demanded of his personal servants to kill everyone who aided David. He ordered the slaughter of all the priests of God, but his servants wisely didn’t dare obey his command for fear of God.
But Saul had in his employ a wicked man named Doeg, an Edomite, who had no problem with Saul’s command and went forth and killed 85 priests and the entire city of Nob that gave safe harbor to David, including women and children.
God never forgot this treachery.
Because thou hast had a perpetual hatred, and hast shed the blood of the children of Israel by the force of the sword in the time of their calamity, in the time that their iniquity had an end: Therefore, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will prepare thee unto blood, and blood shall pursue thee: sith thou hast not hated blood, even blood shall pursue thee. Ezekiel 35:5-6
Do unto others
Christ taught in Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31 that we should do unto others as we would want to be done unto us. This is akin to the second greatest commandment He taught that we love our neighbor as ourselves.
Edom was a brother to Israel but didn’t treat him as a brother. Instead, Edom watched as Israel was attacked, plundered, and carried away from their land by the Babylonians. Their inaction turned to action as they took part in the spoiling and destruction!
Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof. Psalms 137:7
They rejoiced over Israel’s demise and proudly made it known. They even captured those trying to escape and turned the defeated Israelites over to their enemy (Obadiah 1:12).
But God declared, “As thou hast done; it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head” (Obadiah 1:15).
God is the God of recompenses (Jeremiah 51:56; Joel 3:4; Ezekiel 11:21). Those that are proud shall not escape (Jeremiah 50:29). Those that have destroyed the innocent shall get double punishment.
Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double. Revelation 18:6
“His day is coming!”
How often have we used this phrase when people seemly get away with evil. It can be infuriating to think that justice failed. But as believers in God, we know God’s justice comes to all.
Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him. Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked; For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out. Proverbs 24:17-20
It’s in our human nature to express glee when those bent on deception and evil get what they’ve got coming. There are those who promote evil, like the Jeffrey Epsteins and Saddam Husseins of the world, and when they are taken out of the way we applaud for the sake of the innocent. When truth and love trumps hate and evil, it’s a very good thing and should be applauded. There is a difference between how we respond to the works of the children of wrath and the people themselves.
Every single one of us has a choice, and God is exceedingly patient (for He is not willing that any should perish), but there comes a time when He WILL say, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still . . . and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Revelation 22:11-12).
We are not to rejoice over the downfall of anyone, especially our Christian brothers and sisters. Every one of us has sinful proclivities we need to change about ourselves and overcome. No one is perfect. Yet, when we see someone doing wrong, it can be selfishly gratifying to see them humbled. But Paul warns in Romans 11:18-22, not to glory in the downfall of others lest you fall too.
Do not glory, but instead, pity.
Because one day the wicked and those who refused to repent—even so-called Christians—will be eternally separated from God’s love and light. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:12).
Weeping of regret for their refusal to heed the Almighty. Gnashing of teeth due to the gruesome finality of their choice.
Christ is our hope
Obadiah shouts “upon mount Zion shall be deliverance!” This is the good news to all people who will hear: Christ will deliver and save.
The house of Jacob shall be a fire and the house of Joseph a flame (Obadiah 1:18). We, as the children of God, as Christ’s church, are this house and shall reclaim the land from the heathen. God has promised us a reward for obedience—an entrance into His kingdom where no wickedness exists.
Christ shall come like lightning, the Holy One as a flame (Isaiah 10:17) and shall burn and devour to stubble the thorns in one day. The thorns of wickedness, the thorns of affliction, the thorns of temptation. Jealousy, hatred, deceit, resentment, revenge; everything that drove Edom and ensnares us today, shall be wiped out in the last day.
. . .and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it. Obadiah 1:18
Bible historians have noted that Edom as a nation no longer existed by the first century. God meant what He said. Nothing will remain of the house of Esau.
Also Edom shall be a desolation: every one that goeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss at all the plagues thereof. As in the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbour cities thereof, saith the LORD, no man shall abide there, neither shall a son of man dwell in it. Jeremiah 49:17-18
Our new position as saints
And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the Lord’s. Obadiah 1:21
There are various opinions as to the meaning of this last verse in Obadiah. Are we, God’s elect, the saviors mentioned? Will we judge the nations at the start of the millennium, the beginning of the kingdom of God? The word saviours in the KJV means “those having salvation”. We are saved by the blood of Christ and He gives us salvation through faith in Him.
Throughout the Bible, Christ says those who overcome will sit on His throne. When He judges the nations, we will judge alongside Him because He will give us that authority.
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. Revelation 3:21
If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us. 2 Timothy 2:12
And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. Revelation 2:26-27
And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. Revelation 5:10
Even Paul made it clear to the Corinthian church what our new role as saints would mean.
Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Corinthians 6:2
Obadiah 1:21, this last verse in Obadiah, might be pointing to Revelation 14:1 describing 144,000 mentioned there. These are virgin men who are redeemed from the earth (whether men chosen who are still living at the end times or men set apart over the entire course of mankind and resurrected at Christ’s return, no one can be sure). But one thing is sure: these 144,000 will be with Christ on Mount Zion at His return and follow Him where ever He goes.
We may never fully understand every word of prophecy, dear Christian, but this we can be certain of: Christ’s kingdom is coming to the earth and we shall rule with Him!
Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand; To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD. Psalms 149:5-9
And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. Daniel 7:27
Abiding in the Vine,
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