The Book of Obadiah focuses exclusively on the nation of Edom. Obadiah’s message centers on the approaching Day of the Lord and the promise that Israel will possess the land of Edom.
Edom, the Edomites, are the descendants of Esau. The Edomites had first refused to aid the Israelites during the time of their wandering in the wilderness (Numbers 20:14-21), and later during the time of invasion.
The Hebrew name Obadyah means “Worshiper of Yahweh” or “Servant of Yahweh.”
Obadiah is the shortest book in the Old Testament. This book is a great example and response to anyone who would harm God’s children.
Judgment on Edom
Verse 1 – The vision of Obadiah. Thus says the Lord God concerning Edom: We have heard a report from the Lord, and a messenger has been sent among the nations saying, “Arise, and let us rise up against her for battle.”
God is calling the nations to go to war against Edom. Edom had rejoiced over the misfortunes of both Israel and Judah, and yet the Edomites and Jews descended from the same two brothers – Esau and Jacob (Genesis 25:19-26). Just as these two brothers fought, so were Israel and Edom always fighting. God pronounced judgment on Edom for their callous and malicious actions toward His people.
Verse 2 – “Behold, I will make you small among the nations; you shall be greatly despised.
Verse 3 – The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; you who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?’
Edom was Judah’s southern neighbor, sharing a common boundary. Edom’s capital was Sela, perhaps the later city of Petra, a city cut into the rock clefts and set in a canyon that could only be entered through a very narrow gap. They felt safe and were proud of their self-sufficiency.
Verse 4 – Though you exalt yourself as high as the eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down: says the Lord.
Today Sela, or Petra, is considered one of the marvels of the ancient world, but only as a tourist attraction.
Verse 5 – “If thieves had come to you, if robbers by night – Oh, how you will be cut off! – Would they not have stolen till they had enough? If grape-gathers had come to you, would they not have left some gleanings?
Obadiah left no hope of even a remnant for Edom. They would be totally cut off.
Verse 6 – “Oh, how Esau shall be searched out! How his hidden treasures shall be sought after!
Verse 7 – All the men in your confederacy shall force you to the border; the men at peace with you shall deceive you and prevail against you. Those who eat your bread shall lay a trap for you. No one is aware of it.
Esau is named here because he was the father of the Edomites. This judgment was not revenge, but in order to bring justice. The Edomites were getting what they deserved; they murdered, so they would be murdered; they robbed, so they would be robbed; and they took advantage of others, so they would be used in a disadvantage way. Everything that was about to happen to them, they had done to others.
Verse 8 – “Will I not in that day,” says the Lord, “Even destroy the wise men from Edom, and understanding from the mountains of Esau?
Edom was noted for its wise men. The Edomites may have had wisdom from the world, but they were foolish because they ignored God and even mocked Him.
Verse 9 – Then your mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that everyone from the mountains of Esau may be cut off by slaughter.
Eliphaz, one of Job’s friends, was from Teman, about five miles south of Petra. Teman was named after Esau’s grandson (Genesis 36:11).
The Reasons for the Judgment of Edom
Verse 10 – “For your violence against your brother Jacob, shame shall cover you, and you shall be cut off forever.
Verse 11 – In the day when you stood on the other side – in the day that strangers carried captive his forces, when foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem – even you were as one of them.
Because Edom had stood and watched as foreigners came into Israel and Judah and attacked them and didn’t help, now they would face God’s wrath. They were supposed to help their family.
When you are able to help someone in need and withhold it, God calls it sin. James 4:17 – Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. I might add this: If you choose to help someone in their time of need, “Don’t complain and gripe while you do it!”
Verse 12 – But you should not have gazed on the day your brother in the day of his captivity; nor should you have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; nor should you have spoken proudly in the day of distress.
Look what Proverbs 24:17, 18 says – Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; (Verse 18) Lest the Lord see it, and it displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him.
Verse 13 – You should not have entered the gate of My people in the day of their calamity. Indeed, you should not have gazed on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity.
Verse 14 – You should not have stood at the crossroads to cut off those among them who escaped; nor should you have delivered up those among them who remained in the day of distress.
Of all Israel’s and Judah’s neighbors, Edom was the only one not promised any mercy from God. They looted and betrayed their blood brothers in times of crises and aided their brother’s enemies.
Verse 15 – “For the day of the Lord upon all the nations is near; as you have done, it shall be done to you; your reprisal shall return upon your own head.
Whether people believe God’s word or not its still true. Galatians 6:7 says – Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. We should make sure we sow mercy! Think long and hard about what you do to others. Do you want the same thing to happen to you, whether good or bad?
Verse 16 – For as you drank on my holy mountain, so shall all the nations drink continually; yes, they shall drink, and swallow, and they shall be as though they had never been.
“Edom” represents not just the Edomites, but ultimately all the nations who oppose Israel in the end times. They will fall under God’s judgment.
Verse 17 – “But on Mount Zion there shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.
Verse 18 – The house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame; but the house of Esau shall be stubble; they shall kindle them and devour them, and no survivor shall remain of the house of Esau,” for the Lord has spoken.
Verse 19 – The inhabitants of the south shall possess the mountains of Esau, and the inhabitants of the Philistine lowland. They shall possess the fields of Ephraim and the fields of Samaria. Benjamin shall possess Gilead.
Verse 20 – And the captives of this host of the children of Israel shall possess the land of the Canaanites as far as Zarepath. The captives of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad shall possess the cities of the South.
Verse 21 – Then saviors shall come to Mount Zion to judge the mountains of Esau, and the kingdom shall be the LORD’S.
Edom is an example to all the nations that are hostile to God. Nothing can break God’s promise to protect His people. Evil will be punished; those faithful to God will always have hope to a better future; God is sovereign in human history; God’s ultimate goal is to establish His eternal kingdom.