This is the first lesson in a series of lessons on the book of Obadiah. In this lesson I am going to talk about why Obadiah is in the Bible.
Watch the video or scroll down to read a transcript.
Thanks for visiting Bible Mountain. This is the first lesson in a series of lessons on the book of Obadiah. In this lesson I’m going to talk about why Obadiah is in the Bible.
I’m going to divide that into two questions. First, why was Obadiah written? In other words, at some point in time, a man sat down and wrote this book that we call Obadiah. Why? What was the author of Obadiah trying to communicate and why was he communicating it? Second, why was Obadiah included in the Bible? Obadiah is in the Bible because it was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Why did the Holy Spirit inspire the writing of Obadiah? What does the Holy Spirit want you and I to learn from this book that we call Obadiah?
What I’m going to do in this lesson is read the book of Obadiah. It’s short, so that won’t take long. Then I’ll talk about these two questions. Why was Obadiah written and why was it included in the Bible?
Before I start reading, let me make a comment about Hebrew poetry. Obadiah is poetry. Hebrew poetry is different than English poetry. English poetry is all about rhyme. Hebrew poetry is all about repetition.
Hebrew poetry is about saying the same thing over and over again, just saying it in different ways. As part of that, sometimes a Hebrew poet will make a statement and then keep repeating that statement, but adding something to it. Sometimes a Hebrew poet will make a statement, and then say the opposite to create a contrast. I mention all this to say that Obadiah is poetry. As we read through this, you’re going to notice repetition.
Let’s read through the book of Obadiah
Obadiah 1:1 A vision of Obadiah: Thus said Yahweh my Lord to Edom. We heard a report from Yahweh, and an envoy was sent among the nations, “Arise and let us stand against her for war. 2 Behold, I made you small among the nations. You were very despised. 3 The pride of your heart deceived you, the one dwelling in the clefts of the rock, saying in his heart in the height of his seat, ‘Who can send me down to the earth?’ 4 Even if you are soaring as high as an eagle and even if your nest is placed among the stars, from there I will send you down”, declares Yahweh.
Obadiah 1:5 If thieves came to you, those devastating at night, how would you be ruined? Would they not steal only enough for them? If gatherers came to you, would they not leave some gleanings? 6 How will Esau be searched? His hidden treasures will be grazed bare. 7 All the men who signed your agreement will send you as far as the border. The men at peace with you will deceive you and have power over you. They will set an ambush against you for your food. There is no understanding in him.
Obadiah 1:8 “Will I not on that day,” declares Yahweh, “destroy wisdom from Edom and understanding from Esau?” 9 Then your mighty ones will be dismayed, Teman, in order that each man will be cut off from the mountain of Esau by slaughter.
What we see in these verses is that Obadiah was written as a declaration of punishment upon Edom.
Obadiah 1:10 Because of violence to your brother Jacob, shame smothers you and you will be cut off forever. 11 In the day you stood far off, and in the day strangers captured his wealth and foreigners came to his gate and cast lots over Jerusalem, you also were as one of them.
Obadiah 1:12 Do not gaze in your brother’s day at the day of his misfortune, and do not rejoice over the sons of Judah in the day of their destruction. Do not let your mouth boast in the day of distress. 13 Do not enter the gate of My people in the day of their calamity. Also you, do not gaze at his misfortune in the day of his calamity. Do not take away his wealth in the day of his calamity. 14 Do not stand over the crossroads to cut off his fugitives and do not capture his survivors in the day of distress.
What we see in those verses is the reason Edom was going to be punished. There was a time when people came in and oppressed the Israelites and the tribe of Judah. They exiled them. They plundered them. Edom stood back and did not help the Israelites. Furthermore, Edom helped to plunder the Israelites and the tribe of Judah. And for that they were going to be punished.
Obadiah 1:15 Because the day of Yahweh is close to being upon all of the nations. Just as you did, it will be done to you. Your actions will be returned upon your head. 16 Because just as you drank on My holy mountain, all of the nations are drinking continually. Then they will drink, swallow, and be as if they never were.
Obadiah 1:17 A remnant will be on the mountain of Zion. Then it will be holy and the house of Jacob will possess their possessions. 18 The house of Jacob will be a fire, the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau will become stubble. They will burn them and eat them, and a survivor will not exist in the house of Esau because Yahweh declared it.
Obadiah 1:19 Then the Negev will possess the mountain of Esau and the Shephelah will possess the Philistines. They will possess the field of Ephraim and the field of Samaria, and Benjamin will possess Gilead. 20 The captives of this district of the sons of Israel who are among Canaanites as far as Zarephath and the captives of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad will possess the cities of the Negev. 21 Then saviors will go up to the mountain of Zion to judge the mountain of Esau and the kingdom will belong to Yahweh.
That is the book of Obadiah. What we see in those ending verses is that Obadiah made some predictions about the future.
Let’s address the question of why Obadiah was written. Obadiah was written to declare punishment upon Edom. The reason for the punishment was Edom did not help the Israelites when they were being plundered. Furthermore, Edom helped to plunder the Israelites, and for that they were going to be punished. Then Obadiah ended by making some predictions about the future.
Let’s also address the question of why Obadiah is in the Bible. The Holy Spirit inspired it, and so it’s in the Bible. Why did the Holy Spirit inspire this? What does the Holy Spirit want us to learn from Obadiah? The answer to this is actually found in the New Testament.
1Cor. 10:11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
Paul wrote this, and he was referring to events that are recorded in the Old Testament. Paul said the events in the Old Testament are examples for us. They were written down for our instruction. This applies to the book of Obadiah.
Obadiah was included in the Bible because the things that happened to Edom are examples to teach us. It was written down and included in the Scriptures so that we would read it and learn from this example.
Let’s go through Obadiah briefly and look at some examples that we can learn from.
Obadiah 1:3 The pride of your heart deceived you,
There’s a verse in the Bible that says, “pride comes before fall.” That’s what happened to Edom. They were proud and then they fell. The story of Edom helps illustrate for us that pride comes before fall.
Obadiah 1:4 Even if you are soaring as high as an eagle and even if your nest is placed among the stars, from there I will send you down”, declares Yahweh.
In our culture, we buy insurance, do financial planning, and plan for retirement. All of that is designed to make sure bad things don’t happen to us. We learn from the book of Obadiah that if Yahweh decides to punish someone, He will punish them, and there’s nothing they can do to stop that.
That’s a lesson we need to learn. I’m not saying insurance is bad. I’m not saying we should not do financial planning, but we have to keep in mind that, ultimately, Yahweh is in control.
Obadiah 1:6 How will Esau be searched? His hidden treasures will be grazed bare.
This teaches us that Yahweh’s punishment is very thorough. If God decides to punish us, He might do it very thoroughly.
Obadiah 1:10 Because of violence to your brother Jacob, shame smothers you and you will be cut off forever.
Yahweh promised that anyone who blesses Israel will be blessed, and anyone who curses Israel will be cursed. That is essentially what happened to Edom. Eden was punished because they did not help Jacob when Jacob needed it. Furthermore, Edom helped to plunder Jacob, and for that they were punished, just as God had promised to anyone who curses Jacob. That is something we should learn from as we think about current events in our world today and how various nations treat the nation of Israel.
Obadiah 1:11 In the day you stood far off, and in the day strangers captured his wealth and foreigners came to his gate and cast lots over Jerusalem, you also were as one of them.
There’s a verse in the Bible that says that he who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. Edom is an example of that. One of the things that Edom did wrong is that they did nothing. They failed to help the Israelites and that’s an example we should learn from.
Obadiah 1:18 … and a survivor will not exist in the house of Esau because Yahweh declared it.
As we look around the world today, the nation of Edom no longer exists. It does not exist because Yahweh declared it. That’s a lesson for all nations around the world today. If Yahweh decides to eliminate a nation, He will do it, and there’s nothing that anyone’s going to do to stop Him.
Why is Obadiah in the Bible? Obadiah was originally written to declare punishment upon Edom, because Edom did not help the Israelites when they were plundered. Edom participated in the plunder of the Israelites. The Holy Spirit inspired the writing of the book of Obadiah because the events that happened to Edom are examples we should learn from. They were written and recorded in the book of Obadiah and included in the Bible for our instruction. In future lessons, we will look more closely at the various lessons we should learn from Obadiah.
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