A Teaching Outline for the Book of Obadiah
As the shortest book in the Old Testament, one would think that Obadiah would be among the more familiar passages of Scripture. Sadly, such is not the case. And because Obadiah was preaching primarily to an ancient pagan nation (one of only two minor prophets who did so—the other being Jonah), the modern reader might see little of value in this short prophecy. But again, such is not the case.
The historical setting for Obadiah takes us to 2 Chronicles 21:4-16, in which Jehoram, King of Judah, followed in the idolatrous footsteps of many of his predecessors (cf. 2 Chron. 21:6). Because of this, not only did the nations of Edom and Libnah revolt against the Southern Kingdom, but the Lord also sent the Philistines and Arabs to attack its capital—Jerusalem—just as the prophet Elijah warned (cf. 2 Chron. 21:12-14). During the attacks from these nations, all of King’s Jehoram’s prized possessions taken, most of his family was captured, and he himself was run out of town.
As descendants of Esau, the brother of Jacob, the Edomites surely knew of the promised blessings of the Abrahamic covenant. Thus, their response to the disaster in Jerusalem should have been that of support and aid for their “brother” nation. Yet, they did just the opposite—not only did they mock and rejoice in Judah’s defeat (cf. Obad. 1:12), but they attacked fleeing survivors, and even partied in the desolate city of Jerusalem (cf. Obad. 1:14, 16). And such hostility was nothing new; Edom had opposed the Israelites for centuries (cf. Num. 20:14-21).
To that end, Obadiah was commissioned by God to preach imminent judgment upon the Edomites. Their pride in victory would be short-lived, the security they felt in their mountainous terrain was but an illusion, and ultimately the nation would be “cut off forever” (Obad. 1:3, 10). And, in fact, the first two aspects of that prophecy came true centuries later when the Romans defeated both Jews and Edomites (known as Idumeans at the time) in AD 70. While some individual Edomites likely survived, the nation as a whole crumbled.
But Obadiah didn’t stop there. He finished his prophecy by explaining that Edom’s judgment was but a preview of the coming judgment on all nations. In the Day of the Lord (the period of time beginning immediately after the Rapture of the Church), God will bring all nations to justice. Just as Edom drank wine in Jerusalem in celebration of Judah’s defeat, so too would all nations drink in Jerusalem during the Day of the Lord—but rather than consuming wine, they will be consuming the very wrath of God (cf. Obad. 1:15-16). And in the end, the people of Israel would again possess all that was taken from them, destroying Edom (and every other nation) fully and finally, as they enter into the Millennial Kingdom under the rule of King Jesus (cf. Obad. 1:17, 21).
Thus, not only does Obadiah provide important eschatological information, but three other key themes make this prophecy extremely relevant for us today. The first thing Obadiah teaches us is that the unrepentant enemies of God will not escape judgment, no matter how secure they may feel at the moment. The second thing we learn is that the people of God will not endure suffering forever, no matter how difficult their lives are at the moment. Third, and finally, we are reminded that the promises of God are to be trusted, because God will guarantee that they come to pass at just the right moment.
The following outline is offered to help you unravel these important truths to your disciples. May God bless you as you raise your children, verse by verse.
A Day of Ruin for Edom (Obadiah 1:1-14)
Judgment Declared (Obad. 1:1-4)
Judgment Described (Obad. 1:5-9)
Judgment Defended (Obad. 1:10-14)
The Day of the Lord for the World (Obadiah 1:15-21)
Retribution (Obad. 1:15-16)
Redemption (Obad. 1:17-18)
Restoration (Obad. 1:19-21)