Description
Obadiah prophesies the end-time judgment of Edom and all the nations. The people of Israel and Judah are restored to Mount Zion and become like a fire that consumes the Edomites. They then rule with Jesus over Esau's kingdom.
Commentary
Obadiah is the shortest book in the bible, comprising only a single chapter. 'Obadiah' means 'Servant of Yahweh'. Nothing more is known about him, nor is any reference made to when he wrote his book, although his description of Edom's reaction to the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC seems to place Obadiah as a post-exilic prophet.

Obadiah prophesies judgment against Edom in context with the Day of the Lord when God will judge all nations (v15), and then restore the remnants of Israel and Judah, allowing them to take possession of the territories of their enemies (v17-21). At the end of it all, the Lord reigns as king from Mount Zion, and those who have been delivered by him rule with him over Esau's mountain (v21). Esau's mountain has a double meaning in that Edom was originally the region around Mount Seir, between the Dead Sea and Aqaba. But mountains metaphorically represent kingdoms, so the Lord is portrayed as ruling over Esau's kingdom. By the 6th century BC, Edom was considered to extend southward into what is now Saudi Arabia, as far as Dedan (modern-day Al-Ula) - (see Ezekiel 25:13 and Jeremiah 49:8).
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Edom's treachery against Judah (v10-14)
The Edomites were the descendants of Jacob's brother Esau, and although Jacob was eventually reconciled with Esau (Genesis 33), the Israelites and Edomites were hostile towards each other from the time of the Exodus (Numbers 20:14-20). King David subjugated Edom (1 Chronicles 18:13) so that it became part of Israel's small empire during his and Solomon's reigns. David's commander, Joab, is said to have killed nearly every male in Edom (1 Kings 11:15-17). Edom later rebelled against Judah in about 845 BC, during the reign of King Jehoram and chose their own king (2 Kings 8:20-22). Later, in about 770 BC, King Amaziah of Judah defeated and killed 10,000 Edomites (2 Kings 14:7). In about 720 BC, during the reign of King Ahaz, the Edomites attacked Judah and took captives. In 586 BC, when the Babylonians conquered Judah, Obadiah records that the Edomites joined in the slaughter (v10). They behaved as though they were in league with the Babylonians (v11). They gloated when their relatives, the Jews, suffered calamity (v12). They entered the city and joined in the looting (v13). And they slaughtered those who were trying to escape (v14). This act of betrayal is greatly condemned in several passages (Psalm 137:7, Lamentations 4:21-22, Ezekiel 25:12-14; 35:1-15, Isaiah 34:5-15; 63-1-6), as well as here in Obadiah.

Psalm 137:7-9 gives a similar account of Edom's reaction to the fall of Jerusalem, "Remember, O Lord, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell. They said, “Tear it down, tear it down, right to its very foundation!” O daughter Babylon, soon to be devastated! How blessed will be the one who repays you for what you dished out to us! How blessed will be the one who grabs your babies and smashes them on a rock!" This coming judgment that the psalmist proclaims may have been partly fulfilled in history. In about 500 BC, the Nabatean Arabs conquered Edom, and the surviving Edomites were absorbed into southern Judea, which became known as Idumea during the Greek and Roman period. The Hasmonean Jews forced the Idumeans to be circumcised and follow Judaism. When the Romans conquered the Hasmonean kingdom of Israel, they placed Herod, who was an Idumean, as king over Israel, and he ruled from 37 BC until shortly after the birth of Jesus. He became known as Herod the Great, and greatly expanded the second temple.

However, God's judgment of Edom is mentioned more in the bible than the judgment of any other nation (Psalm 137:7-9, Isaiah 11:14, 21:11-12, 34:5-17, 63:1-6, Jeremiah 9:25-26, 25:17-26, 49:7-12, Lamentations 4:21-22, Ezekiel 25:12-14, 35:1-15, Joel 3:19, Amos 1:11-12, 9:11-12, Obadiah, Malachi 1:4, or Search by Place: Edom). Many of these passages clearly fit an end-time context rather than an historical one. For example, in Isaiah 63:1-6, Jesus is pictured coming from his judgment of Edom, his clothes splattered with the blood of those whom he has slaughtered. He later arrives at the battle of Armageddon in the same blood-stained clothes (Revelation 19:13-15).

Edom also covers much of Arabia, which is referred to figuratively as Babylon in Isaiah 21, and as 'daughter Babylon' in Psalm 137. Revelation 17-18 interprets this as 'Mystery Babylon' and the 'Great Prostitute' who rides upon the end-time beast empire. So if the Lord rules over Esau's kingdom (v21), it may ultimately portray his conquest of Mystery Babylon and Antichrist's end-time empire.

Edom's approaching destruction (v1-9)
Obadiah describes Edom's judgment in verses 1 to 9, which closely parallels the judgment of Edom in Jeremiah 49:

Obadiah 1:1 - Jeremiah 49:14
Obadiah 1:2 - Jeremiah 49:15
Obadiah 1:3-4 - Jeremiah 49:16
Obadiah 1:5 - Jeremiah 49:9
Obadiah 1:6 - Jeremiah 49:10
Obadiah 1:8 - Jeremiah 49:7
Obadiah 1:9 - Jeremiah 49:22
Obadiah 1:16 - Jeremiah 49:12


Assuming that Obadiah's description of the fall of Jerusalem is historical, rather than a prophetic description of what would happen, then Obadiah paraphrased Jeremiah, rather than vice-versa.

According to Obadiah, God will announce a call to war against Edom (v1). This may represent a wider call to war against Mystery Babylon (Arabia) and Antichrist's end-time empire. Edom will become a weak nation that is greatly despised (v2). Historically, Edom may have been confident in the security of its fortresses in the mountain range of Seir (including the ancient city of Petra), but they will be deceived into a false sense of security (v3). God will bring them down, however high they climb (v4). They will be thoroughly destroyed (v5), and their wealth completely plundered (v6). Their allies will force them from their homeland. They will deceive them and overpower them in a surprise ambush (v7).

Verse 7 may relate to Revelation 17:15-17, "Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw (where the prostitute is seated) are peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages. The ten horns that you saw, and the beast – these will hate the prostitute and make her desolate and naked. They will consume her flesh and burn her up with fire. For God has put into their minds to carry out his purpose by making a decision to give their royal power to the beast until the words of God are fulfilled". Mystery Babylon will create and initially control the end-time empire, as portrayed by the Great Prostitute riding the beast (Revelation 17:3). But later, the rulers of the end-time empire will transfer their allegiance to the Antichrist, who will hate Mystery Babylon, the Great Prostitute. And so her allies will betray her and destroy her. Understanding Edom and Mystery Babylon as pointing to Saudi Arabia, my expectation is that Saudi will formalise an alliance between 10 Sunni Arab nations. Turkey will later rise up and take over the alliance, at the same time forming a new alliance with Iran and betraying Saudi Arabia to Iran (see Daniel 7:7-8 and Ezekiel 38).

According to verse 8, God will destroy the wise sages, the advisers, and the warriors from Esau's mountain (the Kingdom of the Great Prostitute). Everyone will be destroyed. The wise sages likely represent Saudi Arabia's Islamic clerics. The warriors of Teman may represent Saudi Arabia's powerful military.

The Coming Day of the Lord (v15-21)
God's judgment of Edom fits in context with the Day of the Lord which will affect all nations (v15). The Day of the Lord is also called the Day of Wrath, or Day of Vengeance. At his first coming (Luke 4:19), Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1-2 and announced the Year of the Lord's Favour, but stopped short of announcing the Day of Vengeance. We are still in the Year of the Lord's Favour, when God withholds his judgment against sinners, waiting instead for them to repent and receive Christ's forgiveness. But at his second coming, Jesus will announce the Day of Vengeance and will actively judge all who continue to oppose him. The Day of the Lord may equate in length with the Great Tribulation of three and a half years when the Antichrist rules from Jerusalem (Daniel 12:7-12), or it may just equate with the period at the end of the Tribulation when Jesus releases the bowl judgments on the earth (Revelation 15-16), after his appearance at the seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:15). The nations will get what their deeds deserve (v15). Jesus taught us to do to others as we would have them do to us (Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31). On the Day of the Lord, Jesus will judge people according to what they have done to others (v15).

In verse 16, Edom is portrayed as having drunk on Mount Zion in celebration of Judah's fall. Obadiah turns this round into a picture of Edom and all the nations drinking the intoxicating wine of God's wrath. This cup of God's wrath is a common theme and portrayal of coming end-time judgment (Psalm 75:8, Isaiah 51:17-22, Jeremiah 25:15-28, 51:7, Revelation 17:2-4). In Isaiah 51, Israel drinks it first, and then her tormentors are made to drink it. As Christians, in the celebration of the Lord's Supper, we remember that Jesus drank the wine of God's wrath so that we won't have to. But the nations will gulp it down and will end up being destroyed, as though they had never been (v16). In Revelation 17:2, the nations become drunk with the intoxicating wine of the Great Prostitute, signifying that they will end up as recipients of God's wrath along with her.

As for Israel, a remnant will escape and Mount Zion will become a holy place again. The Jews will conquer those who conquered them (v17). This restoration of Israel includes the descendants of Joseph (the lost ten tribes of the northern kingdom), and together with the Jews, they will become like a flame that burns the descendants of Esau and consumes them like stubble, leaving no survivors from Edom (v18). Then the restored people of Israel will take possession of the lands of their enemies. The people of the Negev (southern Judah) will possess Edom (to the south of Israel). Those in the Shephelah (the foothills around Gaza) will possess Philistia (Gaza) in the west. Israel will possess Ephraim and Samaria (the disputed West Bank), as well as Gilead (the region on the east side of the Jordan that used to belong to Reuben, Gad and East Manasseh) (v19). They will take the region to the north as far as Zarephath (which was ten miles south of Sidon in Lebanon). God's redeemed people will go up to Mount Zion to rule over Esau's mountain (Antichrist's kingdom). And Jesus will reign over them as King (v21).
Tags
Places: Israel, Judah, Zion, Samaria, West Bank, Gaza, Philistia, Gilead, Edom, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Mystery Babylon
Symbols: Cup of intoxicating wine of judgment, Mountains as kingdoms
Tags: Restoration of Israel and Judah, Edom as Mystery Babylon, Israel inherits land from her enemies, Jesus uses fire, Cup of intoxicating wine of judgment, Mystery Babylon, Jesus rules as king, Reigning with Christ
God’s Judgment on Edom
1 The vision that Obadiah saw. The Sovereign Lord says this concerning Edom:

Edom’s Approaching Destruction

We have heard a report from the Lord. An envoy was sent among the nations, saying, “Arise! Let us make war against Edom!”
2 The Lord says, “Look! I will make you a weak nation; you will be greatly despised!
3 Your presumptuous heart has deceived you – you who reside in the safety of the rocky cliffs, whose home is high in the mountains. You think to yourself, ‘No one can bring me down to the ground!’
4 Even if you were to soar high like an eagle, even if you were to make your nest among the stars, I can bring you down even from there!” says the Lord.
5 “If thieves came to rob you during the night, they would steal only as much as they wanted! If grape pickers came to harvest your vineyards, they would leave some behind for the poor! But you will be totally destroyed!
6 How the people of Esau will be thoroughly plundered! Their hidden valuables will be ransacked!
7 All your allies will force you from your homeland! Your treaty partners will deceive you and overpower you. Your trusted friends will set an ambush for you that will take you by surprise!
8 At that time,” the Lord says, “I will destroy the wise sages of Edom, the advisers from Esau’s mountain!
9 Your warriors will be shattered, O Teman, so that everyone will be destroyed from Esau’s mountain!

Edom’s Treachery Against Judah

10 “Because you violently slaughtered your relatives, the people of Jacob, shame will cover you, and you will be destroyed forever.
11 You stood aloof while strangers took his army captive, and foreigners advanced to his gates. When they cast lots over Jerusalem, you behaved as though you were in league with them.
12 You should not have gloated when your relatives suffered calamity. You should not have rejoiced over the people of Judah when they were destroyed. You should not have boasted when they suffered adversity.
13 You should not have entered the city of my people when they experienced distress. You should not have joined in gloating over their misfortune when they suffered distress. You should not have looted their wealth when they endured distress.
14 You should not have stood at the fork in the road to slaughter those trying to escape. You should not have captured their refugees when they suffered adversity.

The Coming Day of the Lord

15 “For the day of the Lord is approaching for all the nations! Just as you have done, so it will be done to you. You will get exactly what your deeds deserve.
16 For just as you have drunk on my holy mountain, so all the nations will drink continually. They will drink, and they will gulp down; they will be as though they had never been.
17 But on Mount Zion there will be a remnant of those who escape, and it will be a holy place once again. The descendants of Jacob will conquer those who had conquered them.
18 The descendants of Jacob will be a fire, and the descendants of Joseph a flame. The descendants of Esau will be like stubble. They will burn them up and devour them. There will not be a single survivor of the descendants of Esau!” Indeed, the Lord has spoken it.
19 The people of the Negev will take possession of Esau’s mountain, and the people of the foothills will take possession of the land of the Philistines. They will also take possession of the territory of Ephraim and the territory of Samaria, and the people of Benjamin will take possession of Gilead.
20 The exiles of this fortress of the people of Israel will take possession of what belongs to the people of Canaan, as far as Zarephath, and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad will take possession of the towns of the Negev.
21 Those who have been delivered will go up on Mount Zion in order to rule over Esau’s mountain. Then the Lord will reign as King!
(NET)