The Vision of Obadiah
Obadiah 1:1, 2
The vision of Obadiah. Thus said the Lord GOD concerning Edom; We have heard a rumor from the LORD…

The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord God concerning Edom; We have heard a rumour from the Lord, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle. Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised. We are now about to study the smallest book in the Old Testament. It comes behind the others in length, but in nothing else. In its weighty character as an inspired writing it is equal to any of the rest. Let us, then, ponder it in our hearts. May the Holy Spirit guide us into all the truth this sacred portion contains! May he open our eyes, that we may behold wondrous things out of this word!

I. WE MAY BEGIN BY ASKING WHO OBADIAH WAS. Some have thought he was the pious steward of King Ahab; but this idea is not in keeping with the evident date of the prophecy. There are many other persons of this name in Scripture, but the prophet cannot be identified with any one of them. We read of Obadiah of the tribe of Judah (1 Chronicles 3.); another of the tribe of Issachar (1 Chronicles 7.); another of Benjamin (1 Chronicles 8.); another of Levi (1 Chronicles 9.); another of Gad (1 Chronicles 12.); another of Judah (2 Chronicles 17.); another of Zebulun (1 Chronicles 27.). We find, also, an Obadiah - a Levite - in the time of Josiah (2 Chronicles 34.); another a companion of Ezra (Ezra 8.); and yet another a priest in the time of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 10.). The name, therefore, was in very common use among the Jews; and this, not only because it had been borne by some who were distinguished for their upright character, but because it had a most instructive significance.

II. WE ASK THE MEANING OF THE NAME. It means "a Servant," or "a Worshipper of the Lord." Let us note the import of both these.

1. "A Servant of the Lord. Here we may each long to be similarly designated. David said, O Lord, I am thy servant;" and the reason he gave for this was that his bonds had been broken by God. "Thou hast redeemed me from the slavery of Satan. Thou hast brought me into the glorious liberty of thy people. I now yield myself to thee. I am thy servant." And so Moses was called "the servant of God." And so, too, we meet with such words as these: "Abraham, my servant;" "David, my servant;" "Daniel, servant of the living God;" "James, a servant of God;" "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ." This blessed service is perfect freedom. Christ himself came among us as the girded Servant. "I am among you as he that serveth." He was Jehovah's righteous Servant. His disciples, therefore, can never rise above his example. They serve the living and true God. "Ich dien." It was not always so. Before the bonds were loosed there was only slavery to sin and Satan and the world, but the emancipation has come. The freed ones serve their Redeemer-God. In faith, in love, in holiness, in patience, in meekness, in joyfulness, they serve, they work, they wait.

2. The seemed meaning of the name is "a Worshipper of the Lord. And shall we not, every one, aim to be this? It implies much. Let us think about it. In New Testament light, worship means access to God. We are brought near by the blood of Christ's cross. It is filial nearness. We may come with holy boldness by the blood of Jesus. It includes prayer in Christ's Name. Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my Name, he will give it you. Ask, and ye shall receive." Worship includes praise. "Whoso offereth me praise, he glorifieth me; Praise is comely;" "Praise ye the Lord." Worship includes the yielding of ourselves to God. "I beseech you by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies living sacrifices." Worship includes the consecration of our substance to God. Of old his people were told not to come before him empty. They were to present their firstfruits unto him. They were first to consecrate, then enjoy. Giving was therefore a part of worship. It ought to be so now. Worship of Jehovah also involves a complete turning away from idols. There are idols of the heart. Covetousness is idolatry. There are many idols besides those of wood and stone. To be truly an Obadiah, a worshipper of Jehovah, we must say with Ephraim, "What have I to do any more with idols?" And one thought more on this point. In seeking to bear the designation of our prophet, let us remember this canon laid down by the blessed Saviour: "God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. Thus, then, we see that much is implied by the designation, a worshipper of the Lord." May we each be both "a servant" and "a worshipper" of the living God!

III. We may now proceed to observe that THE GREAT AUTHOR OF THE BOOK IS GOD HIMSELF. Obadiah was the ambassador, the messenger, but the words are God's. Ver. 1, "Thus saith the Lord God." It is this "Thus saith the Lord which gives such supreme importance to every word of the Bible. The histories, the prophecies, the precepts, the invitations, the warnings, the exhortations, the revelations, the whole from Genesis to the end, all come to us with the words of power, Thus saith the Lord." Some minds may be perplexed as to what is said of creation; some are exercised as to what is revealed about the judgment day, and of the Divine wrath upon the wicked; others have difficulty in understanding the moral government of the world; but the docile, humble-minded believer takes this book as from the hand of God. On the top of every page he sees, as it were, written in letters of golden light, "Thus saith the Lord." Where the word of a king is there is power. We have here the words of the King of kings. "By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth." That same Word upholds all things by its glorious power. And here we have that Word in writing, and it is God's great revelation of his will. It is the chief means by which the Holy Spirit quickens the dead in trespasses and sins, and revives the drooping graces of his saints. "By thy Word thou hast quickened me." If you want any other proof of the power of the Word, read in the Revelation of the doings of him who was clothed in a vesture dipped in blood; and whose name is "The Word of God." St. John was inspired to write five books. In the opening chapter of the first he describes the Word made flesh, and dwelling among us. In the closing chapters of the last book he describes the Word in the blood dyed vesture. It is the union of these truths which gives such power to the written Word. God has spoken to us by his Son. "The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." Let us, then, take heed how we hear. We all need to be attentive to the Word. Oh that Christ's high-priestly prayer were true of each of us, "I have given unto them the words which thou Rarest me, and they have received them ....Sanctify them through thy truth: thy Word is truth"! Let us seek to "receive" all the words which have been given us. "They have received them. May this be true of us, and may we be sanctified more and more by the Word! Sanctify them through thy truth: thy Word is truth."

IV. And now let us ask - WHAT IS THE SUBJECT OF THIS PROPHETIC BOOK? It is twofold. It tells of judgment upon the house of Esau, and mercy upon the house of Jacob. We shall hope to return to this subject again, but for the present let us note what a summary we have here of all revelation. We have, as it were, the pillar of the Lord - a light to Israel; a black cloud to the Egyptians. "He that believeth shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be condemned." The righteous shall walk therein; the transgressors shall fall therein. Esau, despising his birthright, barters it for a mess of pottage. Jacob, taking hold of God's strength, wrestles with the angel of the covenant, and is called Israel; for as a prince he has wrestled with God, and prevailed. In the one case we see wickedness apparently mighty and dominant, building on the heights, but brought down and made very small. In the other we have Zion, once feeble and down trodden and despised, made triumphant and glorious by the grace, and love, and wisdom, and power of him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and made us priests and kings unto God. If we notice the story of Esau, we see him in Genesis despising his birthright and hating his brother. In Numbers we see the two nations. Israel is marching to Canaan. Esau withstands him. The King of Edom prevents the progress. In this Edom seems the stronger. In St. Matthew's Gospel we note the birth of Christ and the advance of the spiritual Israel. Then we find Herod the Edomite opposing with no little success. He commands the destruction of all the young children in Bethlehem. A true Edomite - a red man - a man of blood. But as we get to the close of the sacred Word we see that the house of Esau has disappeared. Zion is all-triumphant. Within the pearly gates all is joy, and light, and rest, and glory forevermore. Nothing that defileth can enter. The hosts of the true Israel are safe forever. The great "Thus saith the Lord" by Obadiah the prophet has received its complete fulfilment. Let us, then, be sure of this - that whatever seeming strength falsehood and wickedness may possess, in the end truth only shall prevail; the kingdom which is "righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost" only shall predominate, and in a little while it shall be known that "the Lord God omnipotent reigneth." "The kingdom shall be the Lord's" (ver. 21). - A.C.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning Edom; We have heard a rumour from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle.

WEB: The vision of Obadiah. This is what the Lord Yahweh says about Edom. We have heard news from Yahweh, and an ambassador is sent among the nations, saying, "Arise, and let's rise up against her in battle.

The Tragedy of Edom
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