On Being


OBADIAH | on being

Why study Obadiah?

The book of Obadiah happens to be the shortest book of the Old Testament (21 verses) and according to Bible Gateway, the least popular book of the entire Bible (based on page visits). Why are we studying it? Professor David Murray (who writes a blog called: Head, Heart, Hands) offers 6 good reasons why we should want to spend some time in Obadiah.

ONE: It’s Easily Divided
Some of the prophets, even the shortish ones, are incredibly complex books that defy division or organization. Not Obadiah. It’s easily divided into two very simple, though somewhat unequal.

TWO: It’s Graphically Rich
The book begins by addressing Edom, the small but proud and self-confident nation-state of Esau’s descendants. Built on a natural fortress of high rocks, it was thought to be virtually impregnable. I’m sure even the least imaginative of us can conjure up a gripping and graphic description of such a scene. The prophet also depicts the Edomites horrific treatment of their ancient cousins in Israel.

THREE: It’s Culturally Relevant
Edom’s great crime was not only rejoicing in the ransacking of Jerusalem by pagan hordes, but also assisting the attack, hindering escapees, joining in with the looting, and just generally gloating in the miserable suffering of God’s people. Sound familiar? As God’s people today are increasingly attacked, there’s no shortage of people enjoying the spectacle, piling in and on, and generally putting the boot in. So what was God’s message to the Edomites of that day and our day?

FOUR: It’s Perfectly Just
“I will bring you down!” That was God’s message to this high, lofty, and untouchable enemy. More than that, God says to the Edomites, “As you have done, it shall be done to you.” God’s perfect retributive justice will be executed – as you have done, so it will be done to you – eye for eye, laugh for laugh, loot for loot, boot for boot. Vengeance is God’s and He will repay all of His and His people’s enemies – with not a penny short or to spare.

FIVE: It’s Clearly Messianic
There’s a massive turning point with a little word in verse 17: “BUT.” After warning His enemies of all that would come upon them unless they repent, God moves on to assure God’s people of ultimate victory with a series of wonderful promises in verses 17-21:

God’s people will be delivered

God’s people will enjoy holy peace

God’s people will inherit the earth (even Edomite earth)

SIX: It’s Gloriously Triumphant
“The Kingdom shall be the Lord’s.”

What a triumphant note to end on! The Lord will reign as King over the whole earth.