31: Obadiah: The Book of Retribution

Obadiah has a brief message concerning God’s reprisal against the nation of Edom for her cruelties to Israel. The prophet’s colorful style is alive with contrasts and the themes of justice and divine recompense are prevalent.

The descendants of Esau and Jacob formed the nations of Edom and Israel respectively. Tensions between these nations increased when the Edomites refused to allow the Israelites to travel through their country on their way to Canaan. Biblical history records they later opposed Saul, contended with Jehoshaphat, and rebelled against Jehoram. Jehovah’s patience with them ended when the Edomites joined the Babylonians and pillaged Jerusalem in 587 B.C.

The Edomites felt secure in their rocky fortresses south of the Dead Sea and wanted nothing to do with Jehovah. But the God of the Covenant had long ago promised to protect and avenge His people against those who harm them. This arrogant nation had reached the point of no return and their annihilation was to be complete. Because nothing can avert God’s judgment, Obadiah has no words of hope or consolation for them. The prophet lists their crimes, tries their case, and passes sentence upon them. Ironically, the Edomites destruction would come through the treachery of her former allies (v. 7).

Essay Questions

1. What did Esau do that grieved his parents (Genesis 26:34-35)?

2. How did Jacob deceive his father (Genesis 27:1-29)?

3. How did this deception strain the relationship between Jacob and Esau (Genesis 27:41-45)?

4. From Biblical resources, form a chronological history of the nation of Edom.

5. Using Biblical resources, describe the city of Petra, the capital of Edom. From a military standpoint, how impenetrable was it?

6. List things the Edomites should not have done (vv.10-14).

7. What were the specific results of God’s judgment upon Edom? (vv.19-21).

8. What lessons does the history of the Edomites teach about hatred that is passed on from generation to generation?


Maxim of the Moment

Woman was formed by God - out of man's side to be equal, from under his arm for protection, and near his heart to be loved.