The Book of Obadiah is the shortest book in the Bible (21 verses), written by Obadiah, whose name means "the servant of the Lord." It was written about 586 b.c., and contains Edom's condemnation, because of her treachery toward Judah; the prophecy of her utter destruction; and the salvation of Judah in the Day of the Lord. The book was written in Jerusalem, at the time when Jerusalem was being destroyed by the Babylonian armies. The book deals with Esau, Jacob, Edom, and Israel.
The prophet presents a twofold message. Verses 1-16 consider God's vengeance on Edom. In verses 10-14 Obadiah names some of the sins of Edom, and in verse 15 we note that God would treat the Edomites just the way they had treated the Jews. Violence would fall upon them and their own confederates would betray them (verses 10,11).
In verses 17-21 God promises Jacob the victory. God also promises deliverance and cleansing for Mount Zion. The constant struggle between Esau and Jacob continues throughout the Bible. The Herods were the New Testament Edomites. One killed the Jewish babies in an effort to destroy Christ (Matthew 2:16-18). Another murdered John the Baptist. Another killed James, the brother of John. The struggle between the Israelites and the Arabs today is a continuation of this same battle that began in Genesis 25.
Jonah was, in fact, an actual person in history (see II Kings 14:25). He was a very popular preacher, but when God called him to go to Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire, Jonah rebelled. History tells us that the Assyrians were cruel and heartless people who thought nothing of skinning their enemies and burying them alive, or impaling them on sharp poles under the hot sun. Jonah did not love his enemies, and did not care that the city was going to be overthrown. He had rather disobey God than see his enemies saved.
Chapter 1 records God's patience with the rebellious preacher. So many people today are like Jonah. They are disobedient to God's leading. We learn from the Book of Jonah that God has a perfect will for each of us. When we do not follow His leading, we suffer. Likewise, many people today are like Jonah in that they do not love their enemies. They would rather see them destroyed than try to help them. Christ loved even those who rebelled against Him, those who spit upon Him, those who drove the nails into His hands and feet. As followers of Christ, we should have the mind of Christ.
In chapter 2 Jonah is chastened by God, and Jonah repented from his sin. God then cleansed him and gave him another chance.
In chapter 3 we have a lesson in God's power. As Jonah went to Nineveh to preach, God gave him the message he was to proclaim to the people. Chapter 4:11 says there were more than 120,000 persons who could not discern between their right hand and their left hand. Nineveh was the center of the rising empire of Assyria. The faithfulness of Jonah to preach the message God had given him brought a great change in the city. From the king to the lowest citizens, there were expressions of fear and repentance, and God forgave their sins. This was undoubtedly one of the greatest revivals in history, and it shows what the Lord can do with a frail human instrument who will preach His message.
Chapter 4 again shows the rebellion of Jonah. Instead of being happy and rejoicing at what had taken place, Jonah was angry at the people and at God. This proves that it is possible to serve the Lord, and yet not love people. Jonah is so unlike Jesus in this chapter, for Jesus looked upon the city of lost souls and wept.
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