It is my sincere belief that achieving a rich understanding of Obadiah’s vision requires a basic understanding of the Psalm 83 prophecy. My book, which is available for purchase at this link, is a compilation of over 11-years of research on the subject of the Psalm 83 concluding Arab-Israeli war. For information about the Psalm 83 book click here.
Onward with Obadiah’s Vision – Part 1 This study looks at Obadiah 1:1-2 (all footnotes are included in the Psalm 83 book).
To preface this study remember that Obadiah identifies historical and future names, places and events using the Hebrew vernacular of his day. Furthermore, he presumes that his readers possess a basic understanding of Hebrew history at the time that his vision becomes discerned. Since this vision is to be deciphered in these present times, this historical consideration is inclusive of their exodus out of Egypt, the Babylonian captivity, their centuries of worldwide dispersion, on past the rebirth of the nation Israel in 1948, and on into these modern times. The most important facts to note as his mysterious vision opens up are:
• Esau settled in the territory of ancient Edom, which is modern- day Southern Jordan, and is the patriarchal father of the Edomite peoples.
• A remnant contingency of the Edomite population can be located within the modern-day Palestinians.
• This Palestinian generation will be judged for the historical crimes their Edomite fathers previously committed and the current crimes they presently perpetrate against the Jewish people. The execution of this judgment upon the Palestinians will be delivered through the military might of the nation Israel.
The Commentary of Obadiah
A pastor once instructed his congregation to read the entire book of Obadiah before the next Sunday service. When the next Sunday arrived, he began the service by asking for a show of hands by everyone, who had read at least the first three chapters of Obadiah. He was humored to observe that several hands were raised. After letting out a laugh, he commented, “That’s funny, there is only one chapter in the book of Obadiah; what Bible were you reading from?”
Obadiah is only one chapter consisting of 21 verses, which ranks it as the fifth shortest book in the Bible. Although it is a short book, it is packed with timely prophetic information for this final generation. Unless one understands the book of Obadiah, he or she will likely lack significant understanding about the missing Psalm 83 piece of the prophetic puzzle. Below is a list of the ten shortest books in the Bible:
l. 3 John — 1 chapter, 14 verses, 299 words
2. 2 John — 1 chapter, 13 verses, 303 words
3. Philemon — 1 chapter, 25 verses, 445 words
4. Jude — 1 chapter, 25 verses, 613 words
5. Obadiah — 1 chapter, 21 verses, 670 words
6. Titus — 3 chapters, 46 verses, 921 words
7. 2nd Thess. —3 chapters, 47 verses, 1042 words
8. Haggai — 2 chapters, 38 verses, 1131 words
9. Nahum — 3 chapters, 47 verses, 1285 words
10. Jonah — 4 chapters, 48 verses, 1321 words
The vision of Obadiah. Thus says the LORD GOD concerning Edom (We have heard a report from the LORD, And a messenger has been sent among the nations, saying, “Arise, and let us rise up against her for battle.” (Obad. 1:1 NKJV; emphasis added)
Two things are declared in verse 1. First, the prophets (plural) have heard “a report from the LORD.” Second, “a messenger has been sent among the nations.” Note that the “report from the LORD” is not necessarily the message sent to the nations; rather, the message to the nations dictates the need for the report. The report is given through the prophets so that the Jewish people will know God’s response to the battle-stirring message “sent among the nations.”
We know what the message says: “And rise up to battle” (Jer. 49:14, NKJV). But who are the “We” to whom the report is given? Who are the nations “among the nations” to which the messenger has been sent? Lastly, who is “her” that these nations will attack? The prophets are Obadiah and Jeremiah. “We,” Obadiah and Jeremiah, “have heard a report from the LORD.” Obadiah echoes a report first heard by Jeremiah: “I have heard a message from the LORD, And an ambassador has been sent to the nations: ‘Gather together, come against her, And rise up to battle!’” (Jer. 49:14, NKJV).
Who are the nations “among the nations?” There are three key ways to determine what nations are “among the nations.” First, in verse 2 we are told that Edom is among these nations:
Behold, I will make you [Edom] small among the [confederating] nations; You shall be greatly despised. (Obad. 1:2, NKJV; emphasis added)
Secondly, in (Obad. 1:7) the other nations, in addition to Edom, are assembled along with these Edomites in a confederacy:
All the men in your confederacy Shall force you [Palestinians] to the border; The men at peace with you Shall deceive you and prevail against you. (Obad. 1:7, NKJV; abbreviated with emphasis added)
Lastly, in verse 1 the mandate of the confederacy is to rise up to battle against some nation referred to as “her.” Is Edom this “her?” Scripture generally references Edom or Esau as “him” or “he,” rather than “her” or “she.” In addition, how could Edom be a member of a confederacy that was against him? Though verse 7 depicts Edom as a deceived member within the confederacy, he is still a known member of the confederacy. It is not probable that the Edomites, who are linked to the modern-day Palestinians, would rise up to battle among the confederating nations, with the nations, to extinguish their own existence.
More importantly, however, is to note that the report Obadiah hears concerns the final judgment against the Edomite peoples. Scripture points to the final judgment against the Palestinians as being leveled by one single nation—that nation is Israel. There is no scriptural basis to assume that the final destruction of the Edomite people will be at the hands of Edom itself, assembled with a multiplicity of nations.
Presently residing within the modern-day Palestinian refugees is a contingency of Edomite descendants. Therefore, this yet unfulfilled prophecy is destined to find its association with a pending judgment against the Palestinians and their neighboring Arab cohorts that support them. These nations are identified further on in this study.
So then, who is the “her” of verse 1 destined to be attacked? She comes under attack by a group of confederating nations. Since Edom is among these attacking nations, “her” must be someone the Palestinians want to destroy. Obadiah 1:10–14 tells us it is Israel that Edom antagonizes. Psalm 83:1–8 tells us that the Palestinians involve themselves in a confederacy for rising up to battle against Israel. In addition, Israel is referred to as “her” within the Bible more times than any other nation.
Thus, in summary, God gives the Jewish people through their prophets, predominately Jeremiah and Obadiah, as prescribed in the prophetic formula of Amos 3:7 an important report, the contents of which will be spelled out in Obadiah 1:1–21 and Jeremiah 49:7–22. This report from the LORD serves as God’s response to the petition of the Psalmist Asaph in Psalm 83:9-18.
Secondly, “a messenger has been sent among the nations.” Though it singles out Edom, this response also incorporates the Psalm 83:6–8 confederated member nations of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, and the Gaza; Edom is only one member “among the nations.” We can restrict the “among the nations” grouping to those members who in Obadiah 1:7 are aligned in a confederacy with Edom.
“Arise, and let us rise up against her for battle.” Among the confederated nations, the call to battle has sounded in Obadiah’s vision of the future. The time has come for the Psalm 83:6–8 members to rise up against her, the nation Israel, for battle. The intent:
They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, That the name of Israel may be remembered no more.” (Psa. 83:4, NKJV; emphasis added)
Onward with Obadiah’s Vision
Behold, I will make you [Edom] small among the [confederate] nations; You shall be greatly despised. (Obad. 1:2, NKJV; emphasis added)
The report from the LORD begins by making two prophetic assertions in verse 2 regarding Edom. First, they will be reduced in national stature among the nations, and secondly they will be greatly despised.
Among the confederate nations, Edom will be the least in stature. This condition is emphasized in Psalm 83:6, whereby the Palestinians are identified as “the tents of Edom.” By the time the call to battle among the confederate nations arises, “Edom” will be “small among the nations.” The Palestinians are identified as tent dwellers, likely referring to them as a displaced population, perhaps a people without their own state. Remember that biblically, “the tents of,” typically refers to refugees, military encampments, or both.
Many consider Obadiah to be a contemporary of Jeremiah, which means his prophetic ministry flourished about the time of the Babylonian captivity. A study of the history of Edom from the time of the Babylonian captivity was given in the chapter of my Psalm 83 book called “The Whodomites, Who are the Edomites Today,” but is worth encapsulating again. The quote below illustrates the process of the national reduction of Edom, i.e., “Behold, I will make you small among the nations.” From the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:
“They [the Edomites] gave what help they could to Nebuchadnezzar, and exulted in the destruction of Jerusalem, stirring the bitterest indignation in the hearts of the Jews (Lam. 4:21; Ezek. 25:12; 35:3ff; Ob. 1:10ff ). The Edomites pressed into the then evacuated lands in the South of Judah. In 300 BC, Mt. Seir with its capital Petra fell into the hands of the Nabateans. West of the Arabah the country they occupied came to be known by the Greek name Idumea, and the people as Idumeans. Hebron, their chief city, was taken by Judas Maccabeus in 165 BC (1 Macc 4:29, 61; 5:65). In 126 BC, the country was subdued by John Hyrcanus, who compelled the people to become Jews and to submit to circumcision. Antipater, governor of Idumaea, was made procurator of Judea, Samaria and Galilee by Julius Caesar. He paved the way to the throne for his son Herod the Great. With the fall of Judah under the Romans, Idumaea disappears from history.”
Presently, there is a group of displaced Arabs in the region fighting for a homeland. They are commonly called Palestinians. Over the past one hundred years, the international community has at various times encouraged them to resettle into their ancestral Arab lands away from what is known as modern-day Israel. However, to date these peoples are still predominately residing as refugees and are generally unable to resettle in the Arab nations.
There are numerous Palestinian refugee camps located at various locations inside the borders of Israel and her neighboring Arab countries. These countries have generally refused to assimilate these refugees into their citizenry. These displaced peoples, at least in part, likely find their ancestry traceable to the ethnic group known as the Edomites. We might infer that these displaced peoples, have been “made small among the nations.”
Click HERE to read Obadiah’s Mysterious Vision – Part 2 (Commentary on Obadiah 1:3-7)
Click HERE to read Obadiah’s Mysterious Vision – Part 3 (Commentary on Obadiah 1:8-14)
Click HERE to read Obadiah’s Mysterious Vision – Part 4 (Commentary on Obadiah 1:15-21)