The vision of Obadiah. This is what the Sovereign Lord says about Edom: We have heard a message from the Lord: An envoy was sent to the nations to say, “Rise, let us go against her for battle.” Obadiah 1 (NIV).
Welcome back to the Old Testament, the Bible that Jesus learned and quoted. Let’s spend some time in its shortest book, written by a prophet named Obadiah.
Obadiah was one of the twelve minor prophets of the Bible (the others being Hosea, Joel, Amos, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habbakuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi), whose books are placed, largely in chronological order, after Daniel. They are the last books of the Old Testament. It is thought that Obadiah was written during the time when Israel was held captive in Babylon. The name Obadiah means “servant (or worshiper) of Yahweh,” and the theme of the book the triumph of God over Edom (present day area of Israel and Jordan).
Now the big questions: so what, and why now?
As to the first question, this particular verse is a call to arms for the people of God. The nation of Edom descended from Esau, Jacob’s brother. Carrying out the tradition of its forefather, Edom despised God’s chosen people, Israel, and the two related peoples were enemies. Saul and David fought repeated battles against Edom, and while Edom was never fully subdued, it was governed by Israel while David was king. When Israel was destroyed by the Babylonians, Edom rejoiced. In fact, it helped the Babylonians destroy Israel. Is it any wonder, then, that God would want for His people to defeat a related foe who had rejected Him and plundered His temple? Read Isaiah 63 to learn more.
You and I: is God calling us to arms to live our lives as His foot-soldiers so that He might work His justice through us?
But as to why this matters, look no further than your nightly news. Our world today is as upside-down as was ancient Israel’s. Economic inequities, political criminalities, social abominations, degenerative popular culture: in many ways, it seems like we could be Edom. So many of us paint ourselves as people victimized by a judgmental God who checked out long ago. Yet we yearn for justice, for law and what is right to prevail.
You and I: in these days of injustice, do we need a reminder of God’s presence?
The short book of Obadiah prophesies that God will pronounce His justice on a people who rejected Him. That He is the King of Kings who will reign supreme forever. It was written hundreds of years before Jesus yet points to Him as the final judge, and victor, over His enemies.
For further reading: Isaiah 1:1, Isaiah 11:14, Isaiah 63:1-6, Jeremiah 49:7-22, Ezekiel 25:12-14, Obadiah 2
Lord Jesus, thank You for Your words spoken through Obadiah and the other prophets.
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