Bible Study: Obadiah

Other Books of Only One Chapter

  • 3rd John (219 words in the original) – He showed fellowship to those traveling. Labor for Brotherhood.
  • 2nd John (245 words) – Fellowship involved boundaries, a fence. Limitations of Brotherhood.
  • Philemon (335 words) – Brotherhood and Forgiveness. Loveliness of Brotherhood.
  • Jude (608 words) – Brotherhood and False Teachers – Longings for the Brotherhood.
  • Obadiah (291 words) – Brotherhood involves Feeling of sympathy. Lack of Brotherhood.

The Prophet

  • Writer – unknown other than not one of the other 11 Obadiahs in Scripture. God can employ unknown men to accomplish His will and to deliver His Word.

The Period of Time

  • Fall of Jerusalem to Babylon. Internal evidence best for this time period, but could also coincide with 2 Chronicles 21:16-17.

The Place It Occupies

  • Smallest OT book
  • Small yet delivering a big message

The Problem Addressed

  • The Pride of Edom, the inveterate and constant enemy of Israel. Israel was not to abhor Edom since they were related (Deu 23:7). Edom had refused Israel passage in Numbers 20:18. They were hostile to Israel throughout the reign of Saul. Edom may have assisted Babylon in the overthrow of Judah (Lam 4:21; Obadiah). They were powerful and proud. They gloried in their position (invulnerable), their possessions (inviolable) and their prudence (intelligence).
  • Edom opposed progress, oppressed when they were able, and observed with joy Judah’s fall.

The Parts – Structure

  1. God Addressing Edom (vv1-9): Esau or Edom used four times
  2. Edom’s Attitude (vv10-14): “on/in that day” – Edom’s Guilt
  3. The Righteous Judgment of God (vv15-21)


  • The encounter between Herod and Christ can be seen in Edom and Jacob

Principles Reinforced

  • Reaping what has been sown
  • Responsibility to my brother
  • Trial of one is the test of another
  • Ruin due to the self-destructive nature of pride

Pictures Afforded

  • Historical – when did this occur? At the time of invasion into Jerusalem. Edom did not help Judah and, in fact, hindered help. God had forbidden Israel from taking the land of Edom when they came out of Egypt.
  • Prophetic – word for Edom is similar to Adam in Hebrew. A picture of how the nations have treated the nation of Israel.
  • Practical – brotherly kindness. Babylon was the great world of idolatry; Moab is the world of indolence. Edom is proud (“the pride of thine heart,” v3), and note his unremitting hatred of Israel. They were not only proud of their walls (v3), but also proud of their wealth (v6) and wisdom (v8). Pride is what caused them to have no brotherly feeling toward Judah. The one who despised his birthright will now be despised by the nations.

A. The Government of God – The Prophet Addresses Edom – The Causes for Their Action (vv1-9)

  1. The Vision
  2. The Visitation
  3. The Vices
  4. The Vanity of their Pride (vv3-9 contain four reasons for Edom’s arrogance and pride: position, possessions, partnerships and prudence).

B. The Guilt of Edom – God Addresses the Failure and Sin of Edom – The Callous Behavior (vv10-16)

  • Obadiah uses five words to describe Israel’s bitterness and loss: misfortune, calamity, evil, destruction, distress.
  • There are eight things which Edom should not have done. These displayed his lack of brotherly care for Judah. Among the acts of violence of Edom is that he took advantage of a brother’s fall and did not rise to help him in the day of his need. They are listed as justification for God’s judgment on the nation of Edom.
  • God is going to deal with all the nations consistent with their treatment of Israel.

C. The Glory of Israel – The Blessing Zion Will Know – The Contrast with Edom’s Intentions (vv17-21)

  • “The climax of the prophecy is found in the closing statement: ‘the kingdom shall be the Lord’s.’ In spite of the opposition, raging and scheming of the nations, God has set His King, the Lord Jesus Christ, His lovely Son, upon the Throne (Psa 2). He will be the supreme Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev 19:16). He is Jehovah and He will reign universally, without a rival or dispute – ‘And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD and his name one’ (Zec 14:9).”[1]

[1] P. Harding, Obadiah: What the Bible Teaches (Kilmarnock: John Ritchie Ltd., 2011), 488.