Avenging Sinfulness

Bob was in my second grade class. Bob wasn’t a common kid name back then. Seemed like something a grandpa ought to be named. Maybe due to his name, but probably due to his life he was just plain mean. Blonde haired. Freckle-faced. Stout and feisty. Bob was a schoolyard bully.

I was skinny, passive, unassuming, and quiet. A perfect target for bully Bob. Not the fighting type at that stage of my life, Bob's provocations could turn my eyes to fire & set my heart pounding with the desire to avenge myself. He always seemed to get me when the teacher wasn't looking. I’ll never forget after he’d picked on me one day I’d had enough. 

With all my fire and prophetic power scrawny me could muster I pronounced upon him in my most menacing voice, “Some day you’ll get yours, Bob. Some day somebody will give you what you’ve been giving others. Some day someone will pound you, Bob. And when they do I wanna be there to see you faaaaaaaaaall!”  

Can’t say that I finished with a wicked laugh. Can say that I can still recall that visceral rush of standing up to my rival, Bob the Bully.

Obadiah is not unlike that. The prophet Obadiah pronounces God’s judgment on behalf of God’s people, Judah, against the rival nation of Edom.

The bad blood between these two nations goes back to the womb (Genesis 25:22-23) and the rivalry between Jacob and Esau, the patriarchs of the nations that would become Judah and Edom respectively. Everything the Old Testament says of the Edomites is negative aside from one command not to abhor them in Deuteronomy 23:7-8. The two nations fought frequently & there are a number of other prophecies against Edom. There was no love lost. These were rivals.

Little is know about Obadiah the person. His name means “Servant of God.” The exact date of his prophecy andwriting are unknown, yet based on the calamity that had fallen upon Judah mentioned in verses 11-14 the timing was most probably the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians in 586 BC. The Edomites lived in dessert mountains to the south of Judah. They too fell to Babylon in 553.

Obadiah may be the least known book of the entire Bible. The shortest book in the Old Testament—only 21 verses—it also contains themes of judgment and condemnation. Two more reasons we may care to know little of Obadiah. Yet God included Obadiah in the Bible to be instructive to us.

The Edomites had been treacherous, engaging in violence toward Judah. Furthermore, they’d been callous, not coming to Judah’s aid in time of trial & even taking advantage of it. And, to make it worse, the Edomites were indifferent to Sovereign God. Obadiah, not unlike my pronouncement to Bob the Bully, was announcing God’s purpose to avenge his people and the sinfulness of the Edomites.

As you take a few minutes to read Obadiah—you can click here to read it or hear it on YouVersion—consider the following questions:

  • What do wee learn about God from Obadiah?
  • What do we learn about human nature within Obadiah?
  • How does this change the way you will pray for yourself and your rivals?

Please share this post and subscribe to follow future posts. This is the fourth post complimenting our sermon series Major Stuff from the Minor Prophets surveying one of the twelve books each week.