ABC Bible Character Faith Series

The Book of Obadiah! What can we learn?

Lessons from the Book of Obadiah

Obadiah is the shortest book in the Old Testament with only 21 verses. It was written by the prophet Obadiah who narrates his vision about God passing judgement on the Edomites because of the way they treated the Israelites.

For context, it is important to note that the Edomites were descendants of Esau and the Israelites were descendants of Jacob. Esau and Jacob were twin brothers who struggled before birth, whilst in their mum’s womb. Much later, Esau lost his birthright to Jacob and Jacob fled because his older brother was after his life. After wrestling with God, Jacob was named Israel and he returned to his brother and the two reconciled. Esau, later named Edom, developed an inferiority complex which continued throughout the generations and so we see Edom envying Israel.

Edom envied Israel to the point of rejoicing when Babylon attacked Jerusalem, where the Israelites resided. We’re told that during this time, the Edomites helped capture the Israelites and turned them over to the Babylonians – “On the day that you stood aloof, on the day that strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them.” – Obadiah 1:11. The Edomites mocked the Israelites and this angered the Lord because the Edomites were related to the Israelites.

But why did the Edomites do that? Are we any different? Here are a few thought-provoking questions.

  1. Do you rejoice at the suffering of others?
  2. Do you repay evil with evil?
  3. Like Israel, are you wondering where God is in your misfortunes?  

The good news is that God dealt with the Edomites and restored Israel. So when you are experiencing hard times and your “relatives” join your enemies to attack you, remember God sees and vindication His. Never take such matters into your own hands, only the Lord is the right Judge. Take everything to Him in prayer.

When your enemies depend upon their wealth and treasure for security, the same wealth will expose them, and when they rely on neighbouring states and counsellors, even these shall fail them.  “And your mighty men shall be dismayed, O Teman, so that every man from Mount Esau will be cut off by slaughter.” – Obadiah 1:9. MHBCC 890.

When the Israelites were running and trying to hide for their lives, the least the Edomites could do as brethren was to turn them over to their pursuers. They should instead have been moved by compassion but yet acted in betrayal. I pray that when we find ourselves in situations where we witness abuse, we will be able to protect the victims rather than join in with the enemies and attackers.

Be blessed!

For insightful reading, check out the book of Obadiah in the Bible along with Matthew Henry’s Complete Bible Commentary (MHBCC) on Obadiah.

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