The Message of Obadiah is directed against the people of Edom who looked on while Jerusalem was being destroyed and it seemed that they took some kind of fiendish delight in the misfortune. It has been called an “indignant oration.” His name means, “Servant” or “The Worshipper of Jehovah.”
What was the issue between Esau and Jacob?
Esau and Jacob were in a ridiculous family feud, where earlier Jacob robbed Esau of his birthright. This feud, though, is between brothers. Esau’s descendants are settled in Edom, South of the Dead Sea. The Edomites could do shrewd trades, make raids on neighboring people, and retreat to their secure stronghold for safety. They had other places of security as well. Esau, the father of the Edomites, and Jacob, the father of the Israelites, were brothers, but became feuding families from the beginning, more fuel to the feud was added by this incident.
Now, the Edomites refused to allow the Israelites (their blood brother) to pass through this territory at the time of the Exodus. In the battle for the conquest of Palestine, they fought against Israel. David subdued the land, and Solomon continued to hold it in subjection, but in the days of Ahaz, the Edomites rebelled and continued to make trouble for Judah. The Edomites were proud, bitter, and self-contained – however, they thought they didn’t need God. Obadiah prophesied and warned against Edom’s vindictive hatred – to which, it seems that Edom rejoiced over the calamities of Israel more than once. When Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem they not only rejoiced over Israel’s downfall, but cruelty took part in the plunder and massacre.
Israel must learn how to treat the Edomites
“Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof.” –Psalm 137:7… This verse says to the Lord to remember the children of Edom (the enemies) in the day of Jerusalem, because of the attackers of the Babylonians who attempted to overthrow His People, and take captive the Israelites.
The burden of Obadiah’s Message was that he sees the doom and destruction of the fierce Idumeans or Edomites. Obadiah reminds Edom that God commanded the Israelites to treat the Edomites charitably – which is what message is conveyed in Deuteronomy 23:7. In biting words Obadiah denounces the pride of sinners and remarks that they deserve the punishment that God, was about to heap upon them.
What caused the sharp message of doom was that Obadiah saw the inhuman spirit of the Edomites toward Judah. In addition, the kinsmen displayed an unbrotherly spirit and delighted in the destruction of their own blood family. The Edomites helped catch fleeing Israelites, treated them cruelly, sold them as slaves, and shared in the loot obtained after the capture. This would be a strong message against enmity, hatred, envy, and unbrotherly conduct. It streamed with the idea of malicious gazing on human calamity.
What people can learn from Obadiah
- Our defenses are useless toward the power of God.
- Ridicule will not go unnoticed by God.
- What you do to others will be returned to you.
- Godly eternal justice will prevail.
- A profane person cannot find favor with a God he does not love.
- The victory belongs to God.
- Hate silences compassion, but love captures God’s attention.
- God will make those victorious whom trust in Him. Submitting our own desires to God will lead to great success, but if we turn away, we may fail.