Obadiah: The oracle against Edom.

October 23, 2015.

Daily Reading: Obadiah.

Background: Few clues are given in the text of this prophet to estimate the date and time periods that Obadiah prophesied. Different dates have been discussed based on contextual clues (such as Edom’s future raiding when Jerusalem is attacked), the two main suggestions being c. 850 BC, which would make him a contemporary of Elijah and possibly the Obadiah mentioned in I Kings 18:1-19, and c. 590 BC as the text in Obadiah 1-9 corresponds well to Jeremiah 49:7-22 as the prophet gives his oracle against Edom. The latter date seems to be the more probably dating of Obadiah, though it is hard to say this for sure. Obadiah’s message is a judgment on Edom (descendants of Esau, see Genesis 25:29-31 and Genesis 36) when they do not help their brother Israel when they are attacked, but rather raid their cities. His text is the shortest in length of the minor prophets.

Concepts and Connections

Chapter 1

Edom: Obadiah’s oracle is focused mainly on Edom, a kingdom that lay just south of the kingdom of Judah, who were descendants of Esau, the brother of Jacob (Israel), sons of Issac (see Genesis 25). Though of a common heritage, the two nations (as prophesied) seemed to be at odds with one another throughout history (see Numbers 20:14-21), and during the divided kingdom, Edom was a vassal state to Judah. Obadiah alludes to their kinship and calls on their family ties in this oracle, strengthening the accusation against the land when they do not help their own brother. The oracle starts out with the humbling of Esau, for their pride had deceived them. When Israel would come into trouble from the Lord because of their iniquity and a nation would come against them, Edom would not help, but rather would raid Isreal and ally with their enemies. What they didn’t realize was that the day of the Lord was coming on all nations, and Edom would be brought down for not helping their bother. Those who they allied with would prevail against them, and their mighty mean would be dismayed. Edom is accused for their violence done to their brother Jacob (notice the use of Jacob instead of Israel, perhaps used to address all of Israel, not just the northern tribes). As this is a prophecy that is set in the future, Edom is warned not to gloat over their brother in the day of their misfortune, nor loot their wealth. They were not to stand in the crossroads and give their brother to their enemies. The day of the Lord was coming on all nations, and Edom would not be spared if they went agains their brother in such ways. As they had done, so would be done to them (compare with the teaching in Luke 6:37-38). When that day came for Edom, they would be overrun, consumed by the house of Jacob and made to be as stubble. There would be a kingdom that possessed Mount Esau, but it would be the kingdom of God, possessed by His people. Though they would soon be in distress and Edom would take the opportunity to rise up against them, they would be redeemed by the Lord. Edom should not have chosen to do violence against their brother in their day of need. This also should be a lesson for us, that we not look with contempt on people in their day of need, for there will likely come a time when the tables are turned. May the kingdom of the Lord be established forever.

Tomorrow’s Reading: Acts 1-2.

Hallelujah to the King.


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