Apparently Obadiah is the least read book of the Bible. Not Leviticus or 2 Chronicles, but Obadiah. Jeffrey Kranz explains why so few read it at The Bible Overview Project. I’d like motivate study of this marvelous little book by giving six reasons why you should read it, study it, teach it, and preach it.
1. It’s Easily Divided
Some of the prophets, even the shortish ones, are incredibly complex books that defy division or organization. Not Obadiah. It’s easily divided into two very simple, though somewhat unequal, parts:
- God’s Vengeance on Essau (1-16)
- God’s Victory for Jacob (17-21)
Or put even more simply:
- God’s Vengeance on His Enemies (1-16)
- God’s Victory for His People (17-21)
2. It’s Graphically Rich
The book begins by addressing Edom, the small but proud and self-confident nation-state of Essau’s descendants. Built on a natural fortress of high rocks, it was thought to be virtually impregnable. Have a look at some of the Google images; I’m sure even the least imaginative of us can conjure up a gripping and graphic description of such a scene. The prophet also depicts the Edomites horrific treatment of their ancient cousins in Israel.
3. It’s Culturally Relevant
Edom’s great crime was not only rejoicing in the ransacking of Jerusalem by pagan hordes, but also assisting the attack, hindering escapees, joining in with the looting, and just generally gloating in the miserable suffering of God’s people.
Sound familiar? As God’s people today are increasingly attacked, there’s no shortage of people enjoying the spectacle, piling in and on, and generally putting the boot in. So what was God’s message to the Edomites of that day and our day?
4. It’s Perfectly Just
“I will bring you down!” That was God’s message to this high, lofty, and untouchable enemy. More than that, God says to the Edomites, “As you have done, it shall be done to you.” God’s perfect retributive justice will be executed – as you have done, so it will be done to you – eye for eye, laugh for laugh, loot for loot, boot for boot. Vengeance is God’s and He will repay all of His and His people’s enemies – with not a penny short or to spare.
I don’t know about you, but that really helps me through these days of seeing the most perverse people in society being celebrated and promoted, and those who love holiness and purity being punished and persecuted.
5. It’s Clearly Messianic
There’s a massive turning point with a little word in verse 17: “BUT.” After warning His enemies of all that would come upon them unless they repent, God moves on to assure God’s people of ultimate victory with a series of wonderful promises in verses 17-21:
- God’s people will be delivered
- God’s people will enjoy holy peace
- God’s people will inherit the earth (even Edomite earth)
And how will all this happen?
“Saviors will come to Mt. Zion.” A series of deliverers will be raised up from among God’s people, but all climaxing with the ultimate and final Savior when “the Kingdom shall be the Lord’s.”
6. It’s Gloriously Triumphant
“The Kingdom shall be the Lord’s.”
What a triumphant note to end on! The Lord will reign as King over the whole earth.
Don’t be a loser. Join the winning side!