Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Obadiah: An Introduction

In beginning this long-term study of the Old Testament prophets, I've chosen to begin with the book of the Bible that records the earliest written prophecy and move forward in time from there. This brings us to Obadiah, a man whose name means "servant of the Lord" and yet about whom little is known.

What the Biblical scholars have said is that Obadiah likely lived in the southern kingdom (as opposed to the northern kingdom--with Israel, etc.). He shares a message from God to the Edomites, a people who stem from roots in Genesis but would cease to be by God's own hand.

Edom is a less common name for the twin brother we know as Esau (twin to Jacob). Edom means red and refers to the story of how Esau sold his birthright to his brother for some red stew. Esau rejected the ways of God and settled into a rocky region that came to be known as Edom.

If you remember the story of Esau and Jacob, you'll remember the Bible's talking about their wrestling ("But the children struggled together within her...." Genesis 25: 22). God had a very determined path for each:

"Two nations are in your womb;
And two peoples will be separated from your body;
And one people shall be stronger than the other;
And the older shall serve the younger." (Genesis 25: 23)

Esau, the older, would foolishly give up his birthright and be, in a sense, exiled from his brother Jacob, who is also referred to as Israel--the other nation, the stronger people, God's chosen people.

These two nations would tangle again as Moses tried to lead his people through Edom, promising not to disturb anything on the land. (Numbers 20: 17). Edom refused multiple times and sent troops to physically destroy Israel. But, per God's command ("You will not detest an Edomite..." Deuteronomy 23:7), Israel retreated. God's anger would burn against Edom, however, and Obadiah came with news of God's wrath to come upon them.

An interesting side note in my study Bible is that Edom had successes and failures in many battles, ultimately moving the people in an area of southern Palestine which became known as Idumeans. Herod the Great, the same Herod who sought the newborn Messiah, was an Idumean who became king of Judah. The tracings of Esau's line can be seen well beyond his time; it's a battle that surely continues today, on land and in the heart.

With that introduction, we begin to look at the words Obadiah shared with the Edomites. Note the study schedule on the right, if you want to read with me. Otherwise, I look forward to your contributions, especially as you see Old Testament prophecy intersecting with your Biblical reading and our world today.

'Til Wednesday!


* * *

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).


Kelly Combs said...

Great kick-off! Can't wait.

The Patterson 5 said...

My curiosity is definately piqued (I'm not sure if I am spelling that correctly) as I read your introduction and also my Bible's intro into Obadiah I remember Edom and the Isrealites during a study I'd done last year on Moses. Honestly, and sadly, I had to look to my table of contents to find Obadiah!! Therefore I am thankful for this look into the prophecy the Lord gives Obadiah to the Edomites and to us today. A quote from my NLT translation intro for those who are offended by a God who would condemn any one to hell...
"But only a God who judges can reassure us that evil will not ultimately triumph"
Obadiah looks on with the hope we all have for the end day when "the Lord himself will be King!"
"the Kingdom of God is near!" Mark 1:15
Thanks Sue for including us along on your journey through God's Word!

Carmen said...

Look for me at this study...I'll be the one with bells on! =D

My ADHD Me said...

Don't expect too many contributions from me, as when I read this type of post, I rarely have anything to add as I am busy trying to absorb.

But I hope to be here keeping up. Will drop a note to let you know when I'm here.

My ADHD Me said...

hhmmm, I signed in to follow but my picture showed up as a shadow. Not sure what I did.

Anonymous said...

great article. I would love to follow you on twitter. By the way, did any one hear that some chinese hacker had hacked twitter yesterday again.

B His Girl said...

catching up on your post. on to the next one. b

Carmen said...

You know, I'm just amazed at God's protection of Esau in spite of his disobedience, and the fact that the Israelites obeyed to the point of retreating. I love looking at the generations of people's and where they settled and where they are today. So interesting!! Enjoyed this post, Sue! I have to go read your next one now...