Theme: The judgment of the nation of Edom.
Date: Probably around 586 to 585 B.C. We base this on vv. 11-14, where we have reference to the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar.
Author: The prophet Obadiah. Obadiah’s name means “servant of Yahweh”. (Worshipper of Jehovah or servant of God). There are about a dozen different men listed in the Old Testament who have this name, but Obadiah 1:1 is the only Old Testament reference to this particular prophet. Nothing is known of the author other than his name. It may be he does not think knowledge of himself is important, but rather keeping the focus on the One he served.
Recipients: The nation of Edom. Edom was located south of the Dead Sea, populated by the descendants of Esau. Throughout this prophecy, Edom is addressed directly and specifically.
Purpose: To warn Edom of judgment soon to come on them because of their pride and malicious treatment of Judah (i.e. – The Southern Kingdom, consisting of the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin – with some Levites for ceremonial/worship purposes. The Southern Kingdom had their capital in Jerusalem) in the time of Jerusalem’s trouble. It seems to have been written for the encouragement of the Israelites, rather than to bring Edom to repentance. It seems as if Edom was beyond the possibility of repentance. Edom (descendents of Esau), was the perennial enemy of Judah (descendents of Jacob), and repeatedly displayed their bitter hatred by attacking Judah. Ps. 137:7 records how Edom openly rejoiced at Judah’s defeat. They were a proud people, proud of their mountain strongholds which gave them the feeling of invincibility, but Obadiah’s message is that they would not be able to stand against the day of the Lord. Obadiah’s prophecies have been graphically fulfilled, as any history book shows us. The Edomites’ city, which was hidden in the clefts of rocks, is the historical Petra of Edom. When Malachi 1:2-5 was written, Edom had been severely defeated. Their enemy occupied their territory (later called Idumea). After the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, the Edomites passed completely and finally from the pages of history.
History forgotten is history repeated. This lesson of history is forgotten today by the enemies of Israel and will be forgotten by the enemies of Israel who will gather at the end of the Tribulation period. They will gather to destroy Israel but will find themselves destroyed!! (Rev. 19) The lesson is - BEWARE those who trifle with the holiness of God or the specialness of His people!
Highlights: Even though the main idea is judgment, also included is the thought of blessing. In the last section of the book, there is the promise of deliverance for the nation of Israel, and the final possession of their possessions. We could title vv. 15-21 “Israel wins!”
It is also interesting to note that Obadiah is the shortest book in the entire Old Testament – One chapter, consisting of 21 verses.
I. Judgment Announced (vv. 1-9)
II. Judgment Defended (vv. 10-14)
III. Jerusalem Established (vv. 15-21)