Obadiah, “the servant of the Lord,” is a common name in the Old Testament. Although the exact identity of the prophet is hard to determine, there are indications he ministered in Judah, the southern kingdom (Obadiah 12,17).
Obadiah preached during a time of national disaster (Obadiah 11). Conservatives disagree as to whether Obadiah is the earliest of the Minor Prophets, ministering during the reign of Jehoram (848-841 BC) or later after Judah’s fall to Babylon (586 BC). Babylon’s invasion easily explains the extent of the devastation to Judah, but a battle in which Edom may have participated referred to in 2 Chron. 21:16-17 is more likely the historical context. Statements indicating that the northern kingdom had not yet fallen (Obadiah 19) and Jer. 49:9-10,14-16,22 apparently quoting Obad. 1-6,9 would also suggest Obadiah’s early date. Dating Obadiah to about 848 BC would make him the first of all the writing prophets.
The day of the Lord as poetic justice: “as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee” (Obadiah 15).
Examples of the poetic justice theme
|Treachery against Judah (Obadiah 11-12)||Treachery of its confederates (Obadiah 7)|
|Robbed Judah (Obadiah 13)||They will be robbed (Obadiah 5-6)|
|Violence against Judah (Obadiah 11)||They will perish by sword (Obadiah 9)|
|Sought Judah’s destruction (Obadiah 12-14)||They will be utterly destroyed (Obadiah 10,18)|
|Sought to dispossess Judah (Obadiah 14)||They will be possessed (Obadiah 19)|
To encourage God’s people that no opposition can frustrate the advancing of God’s kingdom (Obadiah 21).
The Contribution of Obadiah to Redemptive Revelation
The Edomites were the descendants of Esau and historic enemies of Israel. The hatred went back to the conflict between Esau and Jacob and was first evident nationally when Edom refused Israel passage after the exodus. Although Edom was never a serious military threat, they always sided with Israel’s enemies. Consequently, they became a fitting representative of all powers that are hostile to God, His people, and His kingdom. The day of the Lord against Edom was fulfilled against Edom, but is also typical of the day against every evil force. The question was whether Edom and other enemies would get away with their behavior to God’s people. The book stresses the divine punishment that must come to Edom for its pride and violence against Judah. Obadiah stresses God’s sovereignty in such a way as to make it clear that even though the enemy seemed to prosper, it was only temporary. The Lord is a God of moral justice who will right all the wrongs of the world in His time. God is in control, and behind the scenes He works His plan and His people will triumph. Redemptive history cannot be frustrated.
- The Destruction of Edom (Obadiah 1-9)
- The Sin of Edom (Obadiah 10-14)
- The Punishment of Edom (Obadiah 15-21)
Extracted from: Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible Notes(Beeke, Joel R. 2015. Reformation Heritage Books).