Obadiah – just 21 verses and the shortest book in the Old Testament, but what a book it is!
Edom is the kingdom founded by Esau, the less loved twin of Jacob, who was chosen by God to receive the blessing of the Abrahamic covenant. Hundreds of years later, the fight between the brothers continues. The Edomites lived in the hills and felt very secure. Their key city was Petra, the city of red rocks. They were a despised people, but God’s law demanded that the Jews treat them as brothers (Deuteronomy 23:7).
God was going to pour out His judgment on this proud and wealthy people. He sent Obadiah, whose name means One Who Worships God, to warn the people of impending doom.
Edom’s wealth was to be totally plundered – nothing would remain. Even the gleanings would be taken. Their friends would turn on them. Because of the devastation, the eastern trade routes would not travel to Edom, and their wealth would be destroyed: with the cessation of trade, their wisdom would dry up. Their mighty army would be defeated.
Why was God judging Edom?
For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because he pursued his brother with the sword and cast off all pity, and his anger tore perpetually, and he kept his wrath forever. Amos 1:11 (ESV)
Obadiah’s word from the Lord confirms Amos’ writings and gives more detail.
· Violence against their own brothers. They watched Israel as it was led into captivity but did nothing.
Because of the violence done to your brother Jacob, shame shall cover you, and you shall be cut off forever. 11 On the day that you stood aloof, on the day that strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them. 10-11 (ESV)
· Edom gloated over the destruction of Judah.
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. 12 (ESV)
Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, 18 lest the Lord see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him. Prov 24:17-18 (ESV)
· Edom assisted in the attack of Judah, capturing survivors and turning them over to Babylon.
Do not stand at the crossroads to cut off his fugitives; do not hand over his survivors in the day of distress. 14 (ESV)
· Edom ignored God’s pending wrath, and their deeds would turn against them.
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. 15 (ESV)
Jesus said it a little differently in the maxim known as “the Golden Rule”.
So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matt 7:12 (ESV)
Paul discussed this in his letter to the Galatians.
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. Gal 6:7 (ESV)
How does ancient Edom apply to us today? It reminds us that our actions have consequences, of course – but I think the most important lesson here is that God is the one Who will “pay back” people who oppress me. Edom had oppressed their neighbors and brothers for years – they were celebrating Jerusalem’s fall and possibly making a little money when they took fugitives to the Babylonians. They were wealthy and powerful, but God was watching and He brought judgment to the people. We see other examples of God’s “payback” throughout the Bible.
· Pharaoh ordered all Jewish boy babies be drowned. God eventually drowned the entire Egyptian army (Exodus 1; 14:26-31).
· Daniel’s peers were jealous of him. They had the king issue a proclamation prohibiting worship of anyone other than the king. Daniel continued to worship God. He was framed by “the presidents and satraps” and ultimately thrown into the lion’s den. God saved Daniel – and Daniel’s malicious accusers were thrown into that same den (Daniel 6).
· Those who persecute and shed the blood of Christ’s people will someday drink blood themselves (Revelation 16:5-6)
God’s judgments are true and righteous. Feeling persecuted today? Take your problems to Him. Don’t try to “get even” with those who offend, hurt or persecute you. God has a great track record. Let Him take care of your problems.
And what are you supposed to do instead of getting even? Praise God. Pray for your enemies.
My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in the Lord. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. 2 “There is none holy like the Lord; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. 1 Sam 2:1-2 (ESV)
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. Psalms 18:3 (ESV)
But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. Luke 6:27-31 (ESV)
What lessons did you see in this tiny book? How has it enriched your life and helped you to understand God’s plan for you? I’m really curious! Drop me an email or write a comment. See you at the end of the week.