Today we look at the shortest book in the Old Testament. We will not speak of chapters but merely verses. Obadiah is a humble 21 verses long …. But that doesn’t make its message easy to shallow. In fact, it is one of the most intriguing books of the minor prophets.
The question I walk away with after reading it: Does God have enemies?
Most of our Old and New Testament is written to and about the people of God – it is written to those who desire to follow God. Yet, Obadiah focuses on a people considered the enemy of the people of God. It is spoken to a people without an accurate theology, without an accurate knowledge of God.
Hmmm. Maybe Obadiah, through written long ago, speaks directly to a time like our own.
What does the prophet Obadiah have to tell us? Take a few minutes, find it in your Bible, and read it.
The book of Obadiah is a vision received by the prophet Obadiah about Edom. Which immediately begs the question: Who were the Edomites?
Edom was one of Israel’s most tenacious enemies. Yet, like all good rivalries the Edomites and the Israelites had a lot in common. They shared a common ancestry. Edomites were the descendants of Esau. Remember the Old Testmaent stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Remember the story of the Jacob and Esau fighting for the birthright? For extra credit read Genesis 25:19-26 and 27:1-40. As you read Obadiah you see many references to the tribes of Israel. Here’s what you need to know … the Edomites have carried our violence against their “brother” according to verse 10.
In 587BC the Southern Kingdom of Israel was defeated by the Babylonian army. The capital of Jerusalem was destroyed. Edom was a neighboring country and ancestors of the Israelites. Yet, Edom did not defend the Southern Kingdom against attack but took advantage of them. They assisted in the destruction of Jerusalem and occupied villages for their own gain.
The people of Israel saw the Edomites not as brothers but as enemies. You might say they hated them. Sound too harsh? Read Psalm 137 and I think you’ll be just fine with the use of the word “hate.”
Back to Obadiah … The people of God have enemies – but does God really have enemies? That leads us to a big question: Who are God’s enemies?
Notice verses 3-4. Pride can easily deceive you and God will bring down those who think they are invincible.
The opponents of God’s people
Notice verse 10. Because Edom has acted out violence against God’s people they will be covered in shame and destroyed forever.
OK. OK. OK. We talked about the enemies of Israel. We even talked about a Psalm that referred to babies being dashed against rocks. Now we’re talking about the enemies of God. You might be thinking … I’m getting a little uncomfortable with this image of God.
In Obadiah we see God as sovereign and as king.
It is God who is God of all nations – verse 15.
It is God who judges – verse 15.
It is God who deliverers – verse 17.
It is God who rewards and punishes – verse 18.
It is God who is king over all – verse 21.
The sovereignty of God has at least three key components:
Obadiah is a cry to trust in the sovereign King.