Obadiah 1

1 We do not know anything about Obadiah except for this prophesy that he left behind. Some of the prophesy is similar to parts of Jeremiah, and some of the historical clues given place the time of writing around 587 B.C., after the Babylonian captivity.

This prophecy is specifically directed at the country of Edom. The Edomites were descendents of Jacob's twin brother, Esau (Gen 25:23-26, 30). Jacob was later named Israel. Edom was located southeast of the Dead Sea. Before they were born, the two brothers struggled with one another, and as nations, their descendants continued to do so.

Mal 1:2-3 indicates that God loved Jacob, and hated Esau. This book outlines the evil things Esau had done to incur God's wrath. In this book, Obadiah shares God's report against Edom, and the punishment that has been assigned. God will use human agents to wage war against Edom.

2 Edom was not a particularly large nation, but it was prosperous and powerful. The Edomites did not please God, however, and he promised to make them small. Despite Edom's efforts, the surrounding nations would never consider Edom much of a nation. Whatever pride they had as a nation would not last long.
3 The primary sin that Edom committed was pride. Pride is a sense of self-determination and individualism. The proud person does not need or want anyone else helping him or telling him what is right and wrong. Pride starts when one feels he does not need God's instruction in life. They begin to do things their own way, and since it is not God's way, they sin. They feel they have made their own strength and wealth, and thus they do not glorify God who gave them the abilities.

Edom was particularly proud of Petra, its city in the mountain. It was easy to defend because it was on high ground and difficult to access. It became a center of banking because it was at the intersection of three main trade routes, and people thought that the city could never be taken.

Satan's first sin was pride. Adam and Eve became proud and brought sin into creation. The Bible is filled with examples of kings, kingdoms, and common people who were proudly independent before God struck them down. Edom would be among them.

4 Like Babylon in Isa 14:13-4, Edom, as a nation, wanted to make itself like God. They felt undefeatable, wealthy, powerful, self-determined, and other nations would come to them as if in worship. They would not acknowledge God or admit that they had sinned against Him. They were not like God, however, and He would prove it by destroying their nation.
5 If God were to send robbers against Edom, the nation would be ruined, but they would still have something left over because robbers only take what they can carry, and generally, steal only those items of concentrated value. If their nation were like a grape field and God sent harvesters into them, the unripe and worthless "grapes" would be left over. That would not be the case with Edom.
6 The armies that God would send would leave Edom with nothing. Their nation would be stripped bare. Even their buried treasures were to be found and taken.
7 Edom would not be taken with a straightforward attack. They would be taken by trickery. One of their allies would turn against them and take the nation.
8 Edom was not simply composed of bankers and soldiers. Since it was at a crossroads between many cultures, it had established an intellectual community. Job's friend, Eliphaz, was from a city in Edom (Job 2:11). Ideas and pagan practices from all over the East could be discussed and studied. Edom considered this community an asset. However, it would not serve them any good on the day God would hand Edom over to its enemies (Jer 49:7).
9 Teman was named after the grandson of Esau (Gen 36:10-11) and was possibly located three miles east of Petra. The soldiers there had a reputation for being mighty warriors. However, when God turned Edom over to its enemies, the soldiers would lose all their courage. Without the will to fight, the soldiers would be unable to defend the cities or themselves, and everyone would be killed.
10 From the patriarchal times, Israel and Edom had struggled against each other. God places the blame for this squarely on the shoulders of Edom. They apparently instigated or provoked most of the battles between the two nations. God commanded Israel not to despise Edom (Deu 23:7), but Edom was guilty of turning Israel away when they were in need and waging war against them.

These two nations were related to one another through the patriarchs. Although many generations had come and gone, God still saw them as "brothers." Ultimately, we are all related to one another, but we are encouraged to place a high value on our closer relationships. Edom did not do this.

11 Edom had allied itself with Babylon and had cheered when Jerusalem fell (Psa 137:7). They apparently did not participate in the battle, but they helped plunder the capital of Israel afterwards.
12 At times God has been displeased with nations and appointed others to wage war against them for punishment. However, God is also displeased when the victorious human agents revel in their victory. Edom had many struggles with Israel, but God did not like their exuberant response when Babylon destroyed Jerusalem.

We are to be saddened at the sin in others, and the resulting punishment. When we see someone hurt because of a sin he has committed, we are not to be happy about it, even if he was an enemy who received "poetic justice." If it is a situation where we have warned the other about the sin, but he continues in it and is hurt, we are not to gloat with an "I told you so" attitude. We should always be looking for opportunities to point others to God. If they do not listen, and hurt themselves, or are punished by God, we should step in to help with the hope that we can encourage them again to look to God.

13 When we see someone in trouble, we are to help him, not add to his destruction. This should be especially true in "family" situations.
14 While it appears that Edom did not participate in the battle between Babylon and Israel, the Edomite soldiers killed or captured Israelites as they fled. God appointed the Babylonians to destroy Israel, not the Edomites, and God was displeased with Edom's lack of compassion. They should not have participated in this matter at all, even though they considered Israel their enemy.
15 God holds all people to His standards whether they acknowledge Him or not. During the Tribulation, nations will suffer from the many plagues of God's wrath, as is described in Revelation. After that will be Judgement Day, when "nations" will be judged one person at a time.

This verse contains the divine version of the Golden Rule (Mat 7:12). We can specifically put this in terms of a person's interaction with God. Those who inflict harm on God's people will themselves suffer destruction. This will be more than physical destruction since the rejection of God's people also implies the rejection of God. Those who have rejected Him, either explicitly or implicitly, will themselves be rejected by Him and forever separated from Him. God is the origin of true love and goodness, and those whom He rejects will never again enjoy these benefits.

16 Edom, however, would suffer God's wrath during the normal course of history. They were eventually captured by the Babylonians, overrun by Israel, and finally destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. The remnants of their rock-hewn cities remain, but there is no Edomite nation to inhabit them.
17 Israel would be defeated, exiled, and dispersed, but they would not be destroyed as a nation as Edom would be. Israel would possess their own land again. There would also be spiritual revival. In other books, we do see Israel's return from Babylon and the struggles that the people had dedicating themselves to God.

This verse may allude to the messianic period, possibly as one of the prophecies with two applications, one near future and the other distant future. In Isa 59:20, for instance, we are told that there will one day be a Christian revival among the Israelites, and in Rev 20:1-9 it is stated that Christ would rule for a thousand years from Jerusalem.

18 The Edomites gloated about Israel's defeat, but the tables would one-day turn against them. God had already appointed the destruction of Edom, and, ironically, Israel was to be the primary instrument of punishment. Israel was weak now, but they would one day regain strength and defeat the "undefeatable" Edomites. Edom's sin was great, and God foresaw that none of the Edomites would ever repent and turn to Him, so they would suffer condemnation during this age rather than at Judgement Day.
19 During that time, Israel's borders would advance, and the area that Edom then possessed would be controlled by the Israelites.
20 Even the Israelites who were taken far north into Turkey would return and occupy the land south of Israel. Zarephath was located between Tyre and Sidon. Sepharad, mentioned nowhere else in the Old Testament, has been identified as the Sardis of the New Testament. Antiochus III, a Greek general under Alexander the Great conquered Sardis in 213 BC and moved many Jewish families into it and other places in Asia Minor. Antiochus III had conquered all of Palestine by 198 B.C. Since this prophecy was written somewhere between 841 and 586 B.C., this verse would be considered to contain a "hidden" prophecy unless Jews had been taken to this region during the Babylonian conquest. So far, archeology neither indicates that the Babylonians exiled Jews to Asia Minor, nor that Jews lived there before the Greek conquest.
21 Those who would liberate Israel will also be the ones to defeat Edom. Israel's kingdom would be dedicated to God. There is some question as to whether this refers to the messianic kingdom, or a preceding kingdom, but it could be a double prophecy.