James Montgomery described Obadiah’s Prophecy this way, “Of the twelve books of the Minor Prophets, Obadiah is the most “minor” of all.” Obadiah is the shortest writing in the Old Testament. Obadiah’s prophecy is contained in just twenty-one verses.
The Old Testament makes references to at least twelve (12) different Obadiah’s we cannot link one of them with this writing. As a matter of fact we don’t know anything about this prophet other than what is contained in his prophecy. We are not sure when this prophecy was written. Since this prophecy is about a sin of Edom against Israel it could have been written as early as 850 or as late as 312 BC. Some scholars think that verses ten (10) through fourteen (14) might place the time of writing around 586 BC.
The theme of this prophetic writing is a pronouncement of judgment against Edom. Edom was the territory that bordered Judah on the east and the south. The early history of Edom is now lost. Esau settled in this area and the Edomites were his descendants.
Obadiah’s prophecy somewhat parallels Jeremiah chapter forty nine (49.) The theme of Obadiah tells a similar prophecy in Lamentations chapter four (4) verse twenty-two (22.) God promises restoration for Zion but He promises doom and destruction for Edom.
The Israelites experienced God’s judgment when their enemies invaded and destroyed Jerusalem. The Edomites, who were first, descendants of Jacob’s brother Esau, and second, Israel’s direct neighbor to the east should have come to the assistance of their brothers when Babylon invaded Israel. The Edomites joined forces with Israel’s enemies and fought against them. This resulted in Zion being defiled and God’s people put to shame. The Edomites felt “secure” even though they participated in the destruction of Jerusalem.
Verses 1-9: Edom’s Pride
God determined to destroy Edom for their complicity in the punishment against Israel. Obadiah records this. This prophecy is an explanation of their sin and punishment. The destruction of Edom was to be God’s judgment on Edom because of their offensive sin of pride. You see this in verse three (3):
“The pride of your heart has deceived you…who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?’” (ESV)
Edom was arrogant and trusted in their self-assurance. Edom believed they were invincible because of their impregnable natural defenses. They thought the rocky highlands would keep them from being attacked. They felt as safe as an eagle does in her nest high up in the crags and clefts of the rock.
Obadiah draws our attention to Edom’s destruction in verses five (5) and six (6.) Regardless of how greedy thieves are, they sometimes leave something behind. Even very efficient grape pickers leave some grapes behind, in other words they don’t pick every grape on the vine. In contrast those who came to destroy Edom would not be like thieves who leave some things behind or like grape pickers who miss some grapes. Those who are sent by God to destroy Edom will be “abnormally” thorough and efficient. In other words, nothing would be left of Edom.
Verse seven (7) says that Edom’s friends would turn against them. Verses eight (8) and nine (9) become even more ominous. Edom’s wise men and their warriors represented the immense pride of Edom. These wise men were self-deceived. The warriors would not be able to stop the coming annihilation.
What do we see for us in this section? God hates pride. This section of Obadiah’s prophecy demonstrates how much God hates pride. He destroyed an entire nation for their pride.
Frank Gaebelein wrote, “How difficult it is to awaken even Christian people to an understanding of the real nature of pride.”
G. Campbell Morgan suggested, “One may stand before a congregation and hold their breathless interest by a recountal of dramatic stories of lives ruined by drink and other carnal sins. But try to expound a text such as this from Obadiah, ‘The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee,’ and there is a remarked difference in attention and response.” The reason is that the true and hideous nature of pride is typically lost on God’s people.
I love Boice’s analysis of what most believers think concerning pride. In essence Boice makes the point by a contrast manifested in two statements – “He is a good man but proud.” This hardly shocks us. We reconcile goodness and pride. How about this statement? “He is a good man and a thief.” What is the normal response? Wouldn’t you say to me that a man cannot be a good man and be a thief? Why would you concede that a man can be a good man and be proud?
God’s opinion of pride is described in this first section of Obadiah’s prophecy. God destroyed Edom because of their pride. God hates pride.
30 Days of Thanksgiving
I am thankful for my family. I have been married for 37 years, have 4 daughters, and 4 grandchildren.
"He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD." (Prov 18:22, ESV)