Survey of Obadiah

Book Type: The fourth book of the Minor Prophets; the thirty-first book of the Old Testament; the thirty-first book of the Bible.

Author: Obadiah, as noted in Obadiah 1:1.

Audience: Obadiah was written concerning the Edomites living in the nation of Edom. These people were descendants of Jacob's brother Esau and had been in conflict with Israel for centuries. The Lord sent this letter through Obadiah to warn Edom that their prideful sin would soon lead to their destruction. The Edomites lived in what is now known as Petra, a city in a high, rocky mountain range. Though they thought their cities were impenetrable, the Lord accurately predicted they would soon be destroyed.

Date: Uncertain, though most likely between 848 and 840 BC.

Overview: Obadiah is the shortest book in the Old Testament with only one chapter and 21 verses. Its brief message consists of three major parts. The first section (Obadiah 1:1–14) emphasizes God's judgment specifically upon Edom. The first nine verses introduce Obadiah and the punishment coming upon Edom. Verses 10–14 emphasize the particular sins leading up to this punishment. Edom had been violent to the Jewish people (Obadiah 1:10), gloated over Israel when they had been defeated by others (Obadiah 1:12), looted their possessions (Obadiah 1:13), and even handed over refugees fleeing the war (Obadiah 1:14).

The second section (Obadiah 1:15–16) emphasizes God's broader judgment upon the nations. The "day of the LORD" is near for all nations.

The third section (Obadiah 1:17–21) shifts to God's future restoration of Israel. Though the kingdom was divided at the time of Obadiah's writing, in the future Israel would again retain its rightful land inheritance as promised by the Lord. Mount Zion would be holy (Obadiah 1:17), while the "house of Esau" (the Edomites) would have no survivors (Obadiah 1:18). Though some of those from Jerusalem were exiles, The Jews would one day possess the cities of the Negeb as well as other lands. God was not done with His people Israel, offering future hope to His people as well as predictions of judgment for His enemies.

Key Verses (ESV):

Obadiah 1:4: "Though you soar aloft like the eagle, \ though your nest is set among the stars, \ from there I will bring you down, \ declares the Lord."

Obadiah 1:12: "But do not gloat over the day of your brother \ in the day of his misfortune; \ do not rejoice over the people of Judah \ in the day of their ruin; \ do not boast \ in the day of distress."

Obadiah 1:15: "For the day of the LORD is near upon all the nations. \ As you have done, it shall be done to you; \ your deeds shall return on your own head."