Lessons From The Book Of Obadiah

by David J. Stewart | August 2020

Obadiah 1:1, “The vision of Obadiah.  Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning Edom; We have heard a rumour from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle.” Psalms 137:7-9, “Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof. O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.”


       It's 586 BC and Babylon is about to invade Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar is the cruel unsaved king of Babylon at this time. Many people are about to suffer and die in war. While this horror is all transpiring, a group of enemies are outside the city watching—the Edomites! The invasion begins! Valiant Jewish men are being killed in battle. The Babylonians are ravishing the women. Pregnant women are being slaughtered. The soldiers are burning the buildings and city.

Little children are being dashed to pieces against the stones. And the Edomites are clapping their hands, cheering on the Babylonians, saying: “Destroy it all! Rase the city flat to the ground!” The Edomites were horribly wrong to rejoice in the Calamity of their neighbors, and their kin as well. Proverbs 24:17-18, “Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.”


Who exactly were the Edomites? I'm sure you're familiar with the Old Testament story of Jacob and Esau in Genesis. Jacob and Esau were twins! We read that the struggle between Esau and Jacob began even in the womb...

Genesis 25:22-23, “And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD. And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.”

As these boys grew old, they were very different from the other in their personalities. Jacob was a mama's boy, a plain man, who stayed inside the house. Esau hung around his father, Isaac, and became an outdoors man, a skilled hunter who put food on the family table. One day Esau had been out hunting and came back so hungry that he felt faint. Jacob was so selfish that he refused to even feed his hungry brother, unless he sold him his birthright, and in a foolish carnal moment Esau did. Later, Rebekah coached Jacob how to deceive his father Isaac, to steal the blessing which was intended for his brother Esau. The conspiracy worked. Isaac was broken-hearted, betrayed by his own wife and son, and Esau was enraged with a spirit of anger and vengeance toward Jacob. 

To save her son's life, Rebekah quickly sent Jacob away to go live with her brother, Laban. I wont go through the whole story here, but I encourage you to listen to the intriguing story in the book of Genesis. Jacob was a deceiver. Jacob failed God. Jacob made mistakes in his life. Jacob was a conniving thief and a wimp. But thank God for His wondrous grace! People look at the outside of a man, but God looks upon the heart of a man. 1st Samuel 16:7, “But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” Twenty years later we find Jacob wrestling with the angel of the Lord (Jesus) all night long. Jacob refuses to let the Lord go, unless He blesses him. The Lord crippled Jacob, by touching the hollow of his thigh, giving him a permanent disability. Amen! God knows best!


I think the Lord did that so Esau would feel sorry for his crippled brother. So God bless Jacob by crippling him, in my humble opinion, saving his life!!! It is interesting that God asked Jacob his name. Do you remember when Isaac asked Jacob his name and he lied to his father, saying that he was really Esau? Isaac said that the voice sounds like Jacob, but the hairy arm feels like Jacob. Had Isaac followed the voice, he wouldn't have been deceived. Amen. Isaac went by his feelings instead and was deceived! Jacob fled for 20 years, running from Esau's wrath, and now the Lord is once again asking Jacob his name as they wrestle? The Lord changed Jacob's name that night to Israel. Jacob had been a scoundrel, a schemer, a dirty thief; but now God has made him a prince! 


We should have called the Patriarchs: “Abraham, Isaac and Esau,” but Esau made a bad decision, which he made way back in Genesis...

Genesis 25:24-34, “And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau. And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau's heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them. And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob. And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint:  And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom.  And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.”

There are a few important lessons to be learned from this intriguing story. Decisions are always connected with consequences! The magnitude of Obadiah concerning the Edomites can be seen in Genesis 25:31-33, when Esau comes in and sells his birthright"

  1. Esau didn't realize what he had - Esau failed to see what he had! All the things that he was entitled to in a birthright was traded for a $5 bowl of beef stew! Esau sold his life's birthright for a pizza! Esau reasoned within himself that a birthright wouldn't do him any good if he were dead. That is how hungry he was.
  2. Esau was more concerned about taking care of the immediate than his future - This is what the foolish Prodigal Son did, who failed to wait. Achan is another great example, who after the Battle of Jericho kept back some valuables (gold, silver and Babylonish garments), which God had forbidden. Consequently, Achan and his family were all killed as punishment (Joshua 7:20-24). The ironic thing is that if Achan had waited just one more battle, God allowed the Hebrews to keep all the spoils of war in the Battle of Ai (Joshua 8:2). Another example is Abraham and Sarah, who refused to wait for God's promise of a son, so they took matters into their own hands. Galatians 6:9, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
  3. Esau sold his birthright rather cheaply - What a discounted price! Judas betrayed the Savior of humanity for 30 pieces of silver (the price of a slave). I am amazed how many people in Scripture threw things away so cheaply! David could have had any wife he wanted, but he went after Bath-Sheba, a married woman. Esau traded his birthright. Judas sold his birthright. Lot lost his birthright. The prodigal son wasted his birthright. Samson gave away his birthright. We do the same thing, don't we.

Oh how foolish was Esau! Esau's name was later changed to Edom. And Jacob's name was later changed to Israel. Jacob became the father of Israel. Esau became the father of the Edomites. So now you can see where the family tension in Obadiah originated from back in Genesis. Since Jacob had betrayed his brother Esau, stealing his blessing and manipulating him out of his birthright, the whole extended family hated Jacob for generations that followed! So now we are in the book of Obadiah, and we see the descendants of Esau, the Edomites, rejoicing over the fall of Israel. This brings the book of Obadiah alive, knowing that the animosity felt by the Edomites toward Israel originated back with Esau and Jacob. 

Here is a lengthy passage from the book of Obadiah, indicting the Edomites for rejoicing at the calamity of their brothers and sisters in Jerusalem, as Babylon destroyed them:

Obadiah 1:10-15, “For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever. In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them. But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress. Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity; Neither shouldest thou have stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his that did escape; neither shouldest thou have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress. For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.”

The prophecy in Obadiah 1:10 has been fulfilled...

The nation of Edom was literally “wiped off the map”; so much so that skeptics of the Bible argued that they were a mythical people. Henry Morris, in his book, The Bible and Modern Science, relates the discovery of the Edomites and its significance, “Edom and Edomites are mentioned time and again in the Bible, but were completely forgotten in secular history until the nineteenth century, when references to them were found in Egyptian and Assyrian monuments.  Thus the critics, who had maintained the Edomites to be legendary, were again routed” (p. 33). 

As the Bible records and archaeology confirms, the Edomites, the descendants of Esau (Gen 36:9), lived high in the clefts of the rocks (Jeremiah 49:16), southeast of the Dead Sea.  George Davis describes Petra, the capital of Edom, this way, “Petra presents a stupendous sight with its rock-hewn buildings, carved out of the very mountainside itself, of beautiful rose-red stone.  It was practically impregnable from the assault of enemies.  There was just one long canyon-like entrance, where a small force of soldiers could protect the city from being taken by a large army” (Bible Prophecies Fulfilled Today, pp. 50-52). 

Though Edom lived high in the rocks, God said He would bring them down, even if they made their fortifications reach the stars (Obadiah 3-4).  Not only did Obadiah predict the downfall of Edom, but so did Joel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Malachi- six Bible writers in all.  And, these men not only predicted the defeat of Edom, but their disappearance- a disappearance so complete as to make the skeptics laugh about their very existence.

SOURCE: Old Paths Monthly - The Disappearance Of Edom

The Edomites dwelt in the safety of the mountains for thousands of years, located to the southeast of the Dead Sea. They thought they were invincible, and they would have been as a nation, if had they had simply not rejoiced in the calamity of Jacob's descendants (Israel). The mountainous land that once was Edom, speaks for itself concerning its eternal demise:

“Today the land stands deserted, a mute testimony to the sure Word of the Lord.  Petra is a remarkable example of the literal fulfillment of prophecy.  This great ancient capital with its theatre seating 4,000, its temple, its altars and its monuments, is now silent and alone, decaying with the passage of time.” —David Higgins, “The Edomites Considered Historically and Prophetically” 

“Scorpions and owls abound among its ruins.  Burckhardt, one of the boldest and most daring of travellers, says he never knew what fear was until he came near Petra.  At nightfall the jackal is heard from the top of the rocks, answered by another far up the Wadi.” —Herbert Stewart, The Stronghold of Prophecy, p. 71 

“I would that the skeptic could stand as I did, among the ruins of this city among the rocks, and there open the sacred Book and read the words of the inspired penman, written when this desolate place was one of the greatest cities in the world.  I see the scoffer arrested, his cheek pale, his lip quivering, and his heart quaking with fear, as the ruined city cries out to him in a voice loud and powerful.” —Alexander Keith, Evidence of the Truth of the Christian Religion, p. 339

Malachi 1:4b makes a disturbing statement toward the Edomites, “The people against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever.” Wow, I would hate to be a descendant of Esau! We ought never rejoice in the calamity of others. If king Zedekiah and Israel had obeyed the Lord, they would not have been destroyed by Babylon in 586 BC. They got what they deserved! Yet, the Bible still says it was wrong for their neighbours in Edom to rejoice, as if they had done it to Israel themselves! And these were more than neighbours, they were family! It was in a real sense, the battle between the Hatfield and McCoy families! 

Even today in 2020 we see certain groups of people hating others, because of bad things that happened decades (if not centuries) ago! All across America Antifa and the liberal media are inciting hatred between blacks and whites, still making an issue of slavery that happened back in the 19th century. They are doing the same thing as the ungodly Edomites, hating the descendants of people who had absolutely nothing to do with slavery. 
The Edomites weren't rejoicing because sin was being punished, but because it was payback in their minds for what Jacob did to Esau. 

Likewise, many blacks rejoice when they hear of bad things happening to white people, blaming them for the injustices of slavery which happened centuries ago. God sees this woeful wickedness! So you had better be careful what you think in your heart toward others, because God is weighing your thoughts in the balance. 
Proverbs 24:12, “If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?” 

And God forbid that someone should hurt a child of God. Matthew 18:6, “
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” If we are to truly love our neighbour as our self, then we cannot rejoice in the pain, loss and suffering of others. God sees every man's heart and, all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” (Hebrews 4:13b). The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Joel, Amos, Obadiah and Malachi all prophesied concerning Edom. The King James Bible is the inspired Word of God!!


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