Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Studies in Obadiah|
Introduction to Obadiah
Who, what, where?
Obadiah leaves us with questions of origin. We don't know who he was and we don't really know when he wrote. Verses 10 to 14 indicate a disaster for Jerusalem when foreigners invaded the city. Psa 137 is a psalm clearly written from exile in Babylon and there Edom (v.7) is associated with the plundering of Jerusalem.
The Relationship of Edom to Israel
To understand this prophecy we need to understand the background. Isaac had two sons, Esau and Jacob. Esau despised his birthright and Jacob inherited the land. Esau moved south and east and set up home in the desolate mountain country. From him came the nation of Edom who continued to be a thorn in Israel 's side through much of their history.
In the Law, Moses commanded Israel not to abhor an Edomite for they were brothers (Deut 23:7) yet over the years, with the frequent intrusions, they became niggling enemies.
Israel under Judgement
Thus it would appear that when Israel were being disciplined and judged by the Lord by Babylon, Edom probably joined in and made the most of the situation by snatching stray Israelites left by the Babylonians, and possibly even plundered Jerusalem itself.
Such behaviour, however, was not acceptable to the Lord. It is one thing to be called to be an instrument of the Lord; it is something else to jump on that destructive bandwagon. That brings an accountability which is what this short prophecy is all about.
The day of the Lord
As Obadiah gets under way and prophesies about Edom (v.1-14) it seems that as he is inspired, he starts catching something much bigger than just judgement on one nation. He catches a sense of God's judgement on a much wider scale that means destruction for nations who despised Israel and Jerusalem , and then restoration and triumph for Israel once again so that God reigns over this land.
We will simply continue straight through this short book.
Passage: Obadiah 1-4
A. Find Out:
1. Of whom does the Lord first speak? v.1a
2. Who were told to do what? v.1b,c
3. What will the Lord do? v.2
4. What had they thought? v.3
5. So what does the Lord say He will do? v.4
1. What was the Lord's objection to Edom ?
2. So what was He going to do with them?
3. How was He going to do that?
This is a revelation (v.1a) that Obadiah received from the Lord. We need to understand this. It wasn't just his bright idea; it was a sense he had from the Lord, a very clear sense. It is about their neighbour to the south east, Edom.
Observe first, the thing the Lord has against Edom initially: their pride (v.3). Pride leads people and nations to do wrong things, and we'll see them later. Pride is an overblown estimation of self. Edom thought they were great. Why? Because their main city was high in the mountains in an apparently impregnable position and so they thought they were safe and secure against all comers. Personal position and circumstances can lead us to wrong conclusions about ourselves.
Very well, says the Lord, although you are currently high up and secure and think much of yourself, I will deal with you and bring you right down (v.4). You think you are big because of your position, but I will bring you down and make you small (v.2), for you will realise that you are, in reality, nothing.
How is the Lord going to do this? He's sending out angelic messengers (implied) to stir up other nations to come against them and deal with them (v.1). It's as simple as that. God can take the sinful and bad attitudes of nations and stir them up so that they come and do His bidding. This is a time of judgement for Edom !
1. Pride is a besetting sin that leads to other sins. Repent of it.
2. Failure to repent of pride means God will deal with it!
Passage: Obadiah 5-9
A. Find Out:
1. What would thieves take? v.5a
2. How much would vine pickers take? v.5b
3. But what will happen to them? v.6
4. From where will the attack come? v.7
5. Who will the Lord destroy on that day? v.8
6. Who will be what on that day? v.9
1. What does the Lord share about the extent of what will happen?
2. What does He say about who will do it?
3. How will that change their feelings?
Having made the general statement in the first four verses that He is going to deal with them and bring them down, the Lord now starts to add some detail to that statement.
Because Edom were full of pride and felt so secure, they might have been thinking, well, any attacks that might come against us will be minor, because we are so impregnable. Oh no, says the Lord, understand that this will be a complete devastation. If thieves break in they just take what they want and leave the rest. If grape pickers come, they only take the ripe grapes (v.6). But I'm afraid, He implies, if that's what you think it will be like, you're mistaken. When these people come against you they will completely strip you! (v.6) Even any treasures you might hide away will be found and removed.
You think you are secure with friends around you? They will be the very ones that I will use to strip you (v.7). When you're not expecting it, they will set a trap so that are taken without warning (v.7). You think you are clever? You think you have leaders who can keep you secure? Those men will be destroyed (v.8). You think you've got a strong army? They will be terrified by what I'm bringing (v.9). Are you all feeling secure in your mountain stronghold? You will all be terrified (v.9) by what I'm bringing to you.
1. Pride is a false assessment of self, a false security.
2. God has ways of dealing with pride. Beware.
Passage: Obadiah 10-14
A. Find Out:
1. Why will they be shamed? v.10
2. What had they done? v.11a
3. What did that make them? v.11b
4. How had they viewed Israel then? v.12
5. What also shouldn't they have done? v.13
6. And what finally shouldn't they have done? v.14
1. What does this passage do?
2. What were the various elements of that?
3. How would Jesus' parable of Lk 10:30-37 apply here?
The Lord has declared that He will bring Edom down because of their pride and arrogance, and now He goes into detail about how they had also sinned in the way they had treated Israel.
The first thing is just a simple description: violence against Israel (v.10). That is the general charge against them but that itself will be broken down into various elements. First they stood aloof when Israel was being attacked (v.11) and Jerusalem was being plundered. They were related to Israel (v.10a,12a) and so should have stood with them, but instead they just watched from a distance.
But more than that, they looked down on Israel (v.12) when they went down under the enemy, even rejoicing that Israel had suffered in this way, and boasted that that wouldn't have gone down similarly (implied). But it got worse, after they enemy had left, they went in for the pickings (v.13) and took from their weak and vulnerable neighbour.
And there's yet more. They had picked off the survivors of Israel (v.14) instead of having mercy and helping them. In all these ways, Edom had been a bad neighbour to Israel, a nation to whom they were related by the past. For all these reasons the Lord was now holding them accountable and was going to come and deal with them by completely removing them!
1. Wrongful activity is sin and accountable to God.
2. Wrongful inactivity is also sin.
Passage: Obadiah 15-18
A. Find Out:
1. What does the prophet say is coming and for whom? v.15a
2. What will happen on that day? v.15b
3. How bad will it be? v.16
4. But what will happen for Israel ? v.17
5. How will Israel be? v.18a
6. What will they do to Edom ? v.18b
1. How is there a major international echo here?
2. Yet how also is there quite a specific local judgement?
3. What is the basis of God's judgement?
Although the prophet has largely been speaking about Edom 's misdemeanours the reality was that they had simply followed in other nations who had pillaged Israel and Jerusalem , and therefore the warning that now follows is in respect of all nations who have wrongly dealt with Israel. Obadiah uses a phrase (v.15) that a number of the prophets used: ‘the day of the Lord', meaning a day when God's judgement would come and here it would come for many nations. The basis of this judgement is what nations have done to Israel .
The sense here is that this will not be some minor judgement by a major catastrophe for those nations, so that even as they ‘drank' violence and destruction in Jerusalem (v.16), so similarly violence and destruction will come upon them but it will keep on coming, they will keep on ‘drinking'. For Israel , however, and for Jerusalem , this will be a time of deliverance and restoration and they will receive the blessing long promised from God, their inheritance of peace (v.17). But it will be more than this for so great will they be that they will rise up like a fire (v.18) and so, like a farmer burning off a field, Israel will scorch across the southern lands and Edom will be utterly destroyed. This is a very powerful and awesome picture that is very clear and there can be no mistake over God's intentions. Edom 's end will be at Israel 's hand.
1. We may think we've got away with it, but God sees and remembers.
2. Sin will be paid for, either by us or by Jesus.
Passage: Obadiah 19-21
A. Find Out:
1. Who will do what to whom? v.19
2. Who in Israel will do this? v.20
3. Who will do what? v.21a
4. What will be the outcome? v.21b
1. Who, specifically mentioned, are going to be the victors?
2. How extensive will be their victory?
3. How will this ultimately glorify the Lord?
Having being quite clear in the nature of this prophecy of judgement, that there will come a time when the Lord brings His judgement on the nations who have wrongly dealt with Jerusalem and with Israel, and having stated that the Lord will use Israel to bring down Edom, this small nation who thought so much of themselves, the prophet now paints one final picture of what will happen then, that could be summarised as reoccupation and the reign of the kingdom of God over the whole land.
Verse 19 pictures the people from the south going up into the mountains to deal with Edom (Esau) in the south east and the people of the southern foothills will deal with the Philistines in the south west. More than that the people of Judah and Jerusalem, will spread north again and reoccupy the areas of Samaria . Indeed it will be the exiles who will return and, after God's judgement, will spread far and wide, retaking the land as it was originally promised them (v.20).
The final picture (v.21) is of deliverers rising up in Jerusalem ( Zion ) who will do this so that eventually all the land will be back under their control and so even the mountains of Edom will be under the reign of those on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. This will be a reign of the Lord, and His kingdom will be synonymous with the reign of His people from Jerusalem . The final picture is of peace (implied) under the powerful rule from Jerusalem once again.
1. God's purpose is decreed and will be fulfilled.
2. Time may pass but God will fulfil His purposes.
By way of Summary, let's put the elements of this prophecy in our own words:
A. Judgement of Edom Decreed
B. Causes of this Judgement
C. A Day of Wide Retribution is Coming
In all this note the following:
Characteristics of the Judgement on Edom
It will involve:
It will be because of:
Judgement on Others
Hope for Israel
There will come:
In all of this, under-girding all we have read, is the purpose and will of God being expressed. The Lord is holding both this small nation of Edom and surrounding nations, to account and the basis of that accountability is the way their have treated Israel in the past.
The ultimate end of this judgement is the restoration of Israel and the reinstitution of the reign of God on earth.
Thus the prophecy declares the sovereignty of God spoken out over history to cover events that have perhaps now already happened and events yet to happen. The final message is, the Lord reigns!