Obadiah: Introduction-Themes and Theology Lesson # 3
Three great themes are present in Obadiah.
The first is of course judgment for the nation of Edom as a result of their cruel treatment of the southern kingdom of Judah.
Secondly, the restoration of the nation of Israel to the land promised to their progenitors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Lastly, there is the kingdom of the Lord being established on the earth with the Jewish Messiah ruling over both Jerusalem and Edom in the future.
Connected to this theme of the judgment and restoration of Israel and the establishment of God’s kingdom on the earth is the prophetic theme seen throughout both the Old and New Testaments, namely “the day of the Lord.”
In fact, this prophetic theme appears in Obadiah 15.
“The day of the Lord” is a critical phrase in understanding God’s revelation regarding the future of planet earth, the city of Jerusalem, the nation of Israel as well as the Gentiles.
The writers of the New Testament use this phrase based on their understanding of the Old Testament prophets.
This phrase was used by the prophets of Israel in the Old Testament when they were speaking of both near historical events as well as future eschatological events.
The New Testament writers understood this and applied the phrase to both the judgment which will terminate the tribulation period of Daniel’s Seventieth week as well as the judgment which will bring the creation of the new heavens and the new earth.
The term “Day of the Lord” occurs in the following passages: Isa. 2:12; 13:6, 9; Ezek. 13:5; 30:3; Joel 1:15; 2:1, 11, 31; 3:14; Amos 5:18 (twice), 20; Obadiah 15; Zeph. 1:7, 14 (twice); Zech. 14:1; Mal. 4:5; Acts 2:20; 1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Thess. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:10.
The term “Day of the Lord” and the phrases “that day” or “the day” or the “great day” are used with reference to Daniel’s Seventieth Week (Isaiah 13:5-6; Ezekiel 30:3; Joel 1:15; 2:1, 11, 29, 31; 38:10-19; 39:11, 22; Obadiah 14-15; Zephaniah 1:14, 18; 2:2-3; Zechariah 12:3-4, 6, 8-9; Malachi 4:5), the Second Advent of Christ (Zechariah 12:11; 14:4, 6, 8), millennium (Ezekiel 45:22; 48:35; Joel 3:18; Zechariah 14:9; Zephaniah 3:11), and the creation of the new heavens and earth (2 Peter 2:10).
The prophetic theme of the day of the Lord is found in Obadiah 15 where it is used of God’s judgment of Edom which had a near fulfillment through Nebuchadnezzar, which is indicated by the statements in Obadiah 1-14 which address only Edom.
However, this phrase also pointed to Obadiah 15 being fulfilled in the far distant future and the establishment of Christ’s millennial kingdom which is indicated by Obadiah 15-21.
In verses 15-16 there is an abrupt shift to the prophet addressing all the nations and thus, Edom becomes the pattern for future nations.
Also, the destruction of the nations in verse 16 is a future event and has not taken place in human history to this point.
Furthermore, verses 17-21 speaks of Israel’s restoration which will occur during the millennial reign of Christ.
Lastly, verse 21 says that this kingdom will be the Lord’s which is a reference to Jesus Christ’s millennial kingdom.
“The day of the Lord” prophecies were already fulfilled in history in several different ways: (1) Assyrian deportation of the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C. (Amos 5:18, 20), (2) locust plague in Joel’s day (Joel 1:15), (3) Babylonian exile of Judah between 605-587 B.C. (Zeph. 1:7; Ezek. 13:5), (4) Babylonian defeat of Egypt in 587 B.C. (Ezek. 30:3), (5) destruction of Edom (Obad. 1-14).
There are several “day of the Lord” prophecies which will be fulfilled during the last three and a half years of Daniel’s Seventieth Week (Zeph. 1:14; Joel 2:1; 2:11, 31; 3:14; Zechariah 14:1-2; Is. 13:6-16).
There are some that will be fulfilled through the Second Advent of Jesus Christ (Zech. 14:3-8) and His subsequent millennial reign (Zech. 14:9-21; Joel 3:17-21).
There are several great doctrinal themes mentioned in the book of Obadiah with the first being pride since the book condemns the pride of the nation of Edom (Obad. 3-4, 10-14), which would in fact result in her downfall as a nation.
In the Scriptures, pride is a great evil because it involves pretending to a greatness and glory that belongs rightly to God alone and is condemned as evil (1 Samuel 15:23; Proverbs 21:4; James 4:16; cf. Mark 7:22-23; Romans 1:29-30; 2 Corinthians 12:20; 2 Timothy 3:1-2; 1 John 2:16).
It is a characteristic of Satan (Ezekiel 28:2; 1 Timothy 3:6; cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:4, the antichrist)
There are warnings about pride in the book of Proverbs (Proverbs 16:5, 18; cf. Proverbs 3:7, 34; 6:16-17; 11:2; 25:6-7, 27; 26:12; 27:1; 29:23) as well as elsewhere in Scripture (Psalm 119:21; cf. Leviticus 26:19).
God is said to be opposed to the proud (1 Peter 5:5; James 4:6; Proverbs 3:34).
The book of Obadiah refers to the God of Israel’s sovereignty over Israel and all the nations of the earth such as Edom (Obad. 15-18), which connotes a situation in which a person, from his innate dignity, exercises supreme power, with no areas of his province outside his jurisdiction.
As applied to God, the term “sovereignty” indicates His complete power over all of creation, so that He exercises His will absolutely, without any necessary conditioning by a finite will or wills (Is. 40:15, 17; Dan. 2:19-23; Acts 17:22-34).
Obadiah also describes the God of Israel as intervening in the affairs of mankind since it speaks of God judging Edom and those pagan nations who opposed Israel.
This is called the “immanency” of God, which means that He involves Himself in and concerns Himself with and intervenes in the lives of members of the human race, both saved and unsaved.
Obadiah also speaks of the God of Israel’s wrath or we can say His righteous indignation (Obad. 8-9, 15-18), which refers to His legitimate anger towards evil and sin since both are contrary to His holiness or perfect character and nature.
In fact, God’s righteous indignation expresses His holiness, which pertains to the absolute perfection of God’s character.
He is totally separate from sin and sinners unless a way can be found to constitute them holy and that way has been provided based upon the merits of the impeccable Person and Finished Work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross.
The book of Obadiah also describes the God of Israel as the judge of all mankind (Obad. 15-18).
The Scriptures teach of God’s status as judge (Psalm 75:7; cf. Psalm 50:6; 76:8-9; Ecclesiastes 11:9; Isaiah 33:22; 66:16; 2 Timothy 4:8; Hebrews 12:23; James 4:12).
He judges the nations (Joel 3:12; cf. Psalm 9:19-20; 110:6; Obadiah 15; Zephaniah 3:8) and rulers of nations (Isaiah 40:23; Jeremiah 25:17-27; Revelation 6:15-17).
He also judges His own people in the sense that He disciplines them as His children (Hebrews 10:30; cf. Deuteronomy 32:36; Psalm 78:62; Jeremiah 1:16; 1 Peter 4:17).
Another critical doctrine found in the book of Obadiah is that of the remnant, which speaks of a remainder of righteous people in the nation of Israel who survive judgment or catastrophe (Obad. 17, 21).
This doctrine asserts that within the Jewish nation, God will always set aside a certain number of Jews who will believe in Him in every dispensation and in every generation of human history.
It is based upon the unconditional promises contained in the Abrahamic, Palestinian, Davidic and New covenants.
The remnant doctrine appears in 2 Kings and is used in relation to the days of King Hezekiah when Sennacherib invaded Israel and threatened to destroy Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:13-2 Kings 19:37).
The prophet Jeremiah uses the word often of the remnant in his day (Jeremiah 40:11, 15; 41:10, 16; 42:2, 15, 19; 43:5; 44:7, 12, 14, 28; 44:28; 47:4, 5; 50:20).
In Jeremiah 42:2 and 50:20 the remnant refers to those Israelites returning from the Babylonian captivity.
Jeremiah uses the remnant of those Israelites who will experience the millennial reign of Christ (Jeremiah 23:3; 31:7).
Zechariah also speaks of a remnant of Israelites during the millennial reign of Christ (Zechariah 8:6, 11, 12).
The prophet Micah also speaks of a future remnant of Israelites during the millennium (Micah 2:12; 4:7; 5:7-8; 7:18) and so does Zephaniah (2:7, 9, 3:13).
The remnant doctrine appears in the writings of Isaiah (Isaiah 10:20-22; 11:11, 16; 15:9; 16:14; 17:3; 28:5; 37:4, 31, 32; 46:3) and is used in Nehemiah (1:3) and in the writings of Ezra of the returning Israelites from Babylon (Ezra 9:8, 13, 14, 15).
Haggai speaks of this remnant that returned from Babylon (1:12, 14; 2:2).
The concept of the remnant appears several times in the book of Zephaniah (2:3, 7, 9; 3:11-13) and is mentioned in Obadiah 17.
The last great doctrine presented in the book of Obadiah which is found in the last verse of this book is the kingdom of God which denotes that God is sovereign over Israel and over the whole earth (Psalm 47:7-8; cf. Exodus 15:18; 1 Samuel 12:12; 1 Chronicles 16:31; 28:5; 29:11-12; Psalm 9:7-8; 45:6; 93:1-2; 103:19; 145:11-13; Isaiah 37:16; Daniel 4:34-35).
The Scriptures express an expectation of the kingdom of God on earth (Isaiah 51:4-5; Mark 15:43; Luke 23:51; cf. Isaiah 2:2-4l; Micah 4:1-3; Isaiah 32:1; Jeremiah 3:17; Daniel 2:44; 7:18, 21-22, 27; Zechariah 8:22; 14:9; Mark 11:10).
It is associated with the First and Second Advents of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 9:6-7; Daniel 7:14; cf. Isaiah 11:1-9; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Micah 5:2).