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!

  • Tim Vasby-Burnie

    Some very good notes on Obadiah here:

    I have been convinced that the order of the 12 ‘Minor’ prophets are important. So Amos ends with the prophecy of David’s fallen tent being restored and possessing the remnant of Edom. This then leads into Obadiah and a prophecy about Edom and Israel possessing Edom.

    This, I think, is fulfilled in the New Testament as we see in Acts 15. Israel “possesses Edom” by the gospel advancing throughout mankind – Edom/Adam/man. And who pioneers the restoration of David’s fallen tent? The apostle Paul – a tentmaker!

  • Nancy Guthrie

    Okay, you convinced me.

  • cdbrauns

    Amen. I’ve been reflecting on Obadiah in recent days.

  • Jonathan Franzone

    I’ve never really studied it, but I think I will now. Thanks for spurring us on!

  • K. J. Pugh
  • Jeffrey Kranz

    Hey, David—thanks for the nod! Glad to see more people giving Obadiah some love! ;-)

  • Allen Ray Mickle Jr.

    You convinced me to start teaching it next in my mid-week Bible study!

  • Nomadic Minister

    Just read it for the first time tonight, pretty awesome.

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  • Chris

    “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.”

    Uhh, what? Is this some sort of persecution complex thing? Explain what you mean here. If you mean conservative Christianity is losing its unjust position of privilege in American society, then I would say that precisely the opposite is happening: God’s justice is growing more complete.

  • Gontroppo

    I doubt it’s the least read. I reckon it’s merely the least looked up on Bible Gateway. People who look up books on BG have probably never heard of it. They tend to look up the small number of verses, chapters and books that are already on their radar.
    And that’s how we tend to use the internet, generally.

  • Andrew Gilmore

    I have struggled with Obadiah myself. It makes no mention of Israel, so it always seemed irrelevant. Point #4, I think, is what helps me over the hump! Thanks!

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  • Leandro G Faria Corcete DUTRA

    A pet peeve: no one ‘motivates’ no one. Motivation is internal. One encourages, pushes, calls..

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