Today we are turning to our third study of the Minor Prophets. As you turn to Obadiah let me tell you that Obadiah is the shortest book in the Old Testament, it has only 21 verses. Like Joel, whom we studied last week, we know very little about this prophet of God. As a matter of fact, we know even less about Obadiah than we do Joel. At least we know that Joel’s father’s name was Pethuel. We don’t have any background information on Obadiah. We can’t even be sure which “Obadiah” wrote the letter because there are about a dozen men in the Bible who share his name. What we do know is that God gave Obadiah a message to deliver to His people in Judah about their future and about the people of Edom. Let’s talk about Edom for a minute.
Edom was south and east of Judah and was an ancient nemesis of God’s people. The country of Edom is also called, “Seir, Hor, and Esau” in the Bible. The land of Edom was about 20-30 miles wide and approximately 100 miles long. One of Edom’s greatest assets was that it was located on the “King’s Highway,” a major trade route that ran from Egypt over to Eilat, in Edom, and then north into Syria. With so many goods traveling through the country the nation of Edom grew very wealthy. The second strength of Edom was its natural fortification from its enemies. The central part of the country was marked by cliffs that are more than 5,000 feet above sea level. Some of you are familiar with Edom, we traveled there when we went to Petra two summers ago. Petra is the ancient city of Sela, the capital of Edom. Those who made the trip will remember that there is only one way into Petra, through a narrow passage, almost a mile long, called a siq. It was said that Petra was impenetrable. The wealth and fortification of the capital city led the inhabitants of Edom to become very prideful and arrogant.
Tension Between Jews and Edomites
Why was there so much animosity between the people of Edom and the Jews? Well, the history of the struggle between the Jews and the Edomites goes way, way back. The tension can be traced to the hearts of two men, Jacob and Esau. You can trace the beginnings of the struggle between the two brothers back to Genesis 25 where Esau came in from the fields starving to death. Jacob had been cooking some stew in the kitchen and Esau wanted something to eat. Jacob, the younger brother, told Esau that he would give him some stew if he would sell him his birthright. Esau, driven by his hunger, sold his birthright to his younger brother. Read more