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Bible Commentaries
Obadiah 1

Wells of Living Water CommentaryWells of Living Water

Verses 1-5

A Bird's-Eye View of Obadiah

The Book of Obadiah


1. A vision concerning Edom. We are well aware that Esau was the father of Edomites. When Isaac's sons were born they were twins. Esau was born first, and then Jacob came, taking hold of the heel of Esau. The first came forth hairy and red, so they called his name Esau. God had forewarned Rebekah that her elder should serve the younger. The boys grew together. Esau became a cunning hunter, but Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. Isaac loved Esau, because of his venison; but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Of these two sons, God said, "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." The future of these two sons demonstrated the reason for God's choice. Early a strife arose between the two sons, a strife which has gone on among their seed until this day. Jacob had twelve sons, and from him as concerning the flesh, Christ was born. The children of Jacob, the Jews, still delight in the name of the ancient patriarch who gave them birth.

Esau waxed great also. His "seed" are numerous until this day, and are known as the Edomites. In Genesis 36:1 , we read: "The generations of Esau, who is Edom." They inhabit the wilds, for the most part, as did their father, Esau. The Jews follow God, the Edomites follow Mohammed. The Mohammedans also boast of having Abraham as their father. Their habitat lies in the country south of Palestine, between the Dead Sea, and the Gulf of Akaba.

2. The dominant sin of the Edomites. In the third verse of Obadiah we read "The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high."

It may seem strange to us that a people, with but little for which to boast, should become so proud in their hearts. They even went so far as to imagine that they could rise up in battle.

Is it not still true, that many seem to be proud, among those who have but little of which to boast? There is something in the human heart that seeks to lift itself up against both God and man. We read of Pharaoh that he boastfully cried, "Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice." Pharoah indeed was a king, yet, compared to God he was no more than the chaff of the threshing floor blown away by the wind.

The spirit that dominates the age in which we are living is the spirit which casts off obeisance to God. There is no fear of the Lord among them.

3. The result of pride. Obadiah 1:2 reads: "Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised." A proud heart, lifted up, is an abomination to God. He that exalts himself shall be abased. The eyes of the Lord are against everything that is high and lifted up, therefore, "The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day."

In the fourth verse of Obadiah we read: "Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down."

The Edomites dwelt in the clefts of the rock. Their habitations were high. It was for this cause that they said, "Who shall bring me down to the ground?"

When we remember that Petra dwells in the very heart of the country of the Edomites, we catch some idea of their sense of self security. Some years ago the National Geographic gave photographs of the ancient city of Petra. There one can see, with his own eyes, the towering mountains, the narrow gorge through the mountain ranges by which entrance may alone be had to the city. Hewed out in the great rocks, deserted dwellings are yet to be seen. These, although now empty, were once inhabited. A tremendous stadium, with great tiers of stone, provided seats for thousands during the games.

We believe that the expression in Obadiah 1:3 , "Thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high," may refer to this very city. Even today it would be very difficult for a modern army to enter that city, if it were properly guarded at its narrow entrances. Airships would find difficulty in dropping bombs through the open spaces above, to destroy the city. No wonder, if we are right in these thing's, that the Edomites were proud, and filled with a sense of self security.

I. GOD'S ALL-SEEING EYE (Obadiah 1:6-7 )

1. The Lord knew the future of the Edomites. Obadiah 1:6 says: "How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up!" God saw the nations as they came as robbers to steal away the glory of Esau. God saw the land lying desolate. The inhabitants thereof scattered. Their great city deserted.

The centuries have passed in solemn requiem since Esau was brought low. Today, many are the tourists who wend their way to the deserted rock city. As they enter they stand amazed at what was once so great and lofty.

God saw the men who were confederate with Esau, that is with the Edomites, and with whom they were at peace; He saw them deceiving the Edomites and prevailing against them. They that ate the bread of Edom, wounded her. The wise men of Edom were destroyed, and the understanding out of the mount of Esau, were brought down. Slaughter cut off her mighty men and violence covered her as a garment.

2. How wonderfully has the Word of the Lord come true. We can see with our own eyes the present smallness of the Edomites. We know how greatly despised they have become among the nations. We know of how their land has lain waste.

So it is, everywhere. The wreckage of pride, the bringing down of the mighty, the overthrow of them who lift themselves up against God, is always before us. Nation after nation which became great upon the spoil of their enemies; nation after nation which, in their greatness, magnified themselves against the Lord and His Christ, have been overthrown.

As we study history it seems to us that world empires have risen only to succumb under the wrath of God. Our minds go back to the ancient tower of Babel. We can almost hear the inhabitants of that city, as they clustered around their great tower, saying, "Let us build us a city, and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth." It was in the day of their strength and self-glorying that the Lord threw down their tower and scattered them abroad until they left off to build the city.

Where is the mighty Nimrod, the hunter? Where are all those who have boasted in their own strength and gloried in their own achievements? Let us beware!


1. God now shows the result of self-pride. Edom became confederate with other nations. They joined with foreigners and cast lots upon Jerusalem. Then they rejoiced when the children of Judah met their destruction, and they spoke proudly against them in the day of Israel's distress. They went so far as to enter into the gate of God's people in the day of their calamity. They looked upon their affliction, and they laid their hands on the substance of Israel in the day of their distress. They even went farther. They stood in the crossroad to cut off any escape of God's people, and they delivered up those of His who were a remnant in the day of calamity.

No doubt the Edomites rejoiced greatly over the downfall of Jerusalem. They rejoiced because of the ancient enmity between Esau and Jacob. They rejoiced, perhaps, because they thought in their hearts that they had made void the word of Jehovah who had said that the elder shall serve the younger.

God had given the blessing to Jacob, and Jacob had fled for his life because he, under the guiding hand of his mother Rebekah had used strategy to gain what God otherwise would have given him. Now that Jacob fell, Esau rejoiced, yea, they helped forward the afflictions of the Jews.

2. Has God changed in His attitude toward His chosen people? Of old God said, "He that blessed thee shall be blessed, and he that curseth thee shall be cursed." Has this decree of the Most High been changed? Have the nations of today thought to annul the fiat of God? You who read these words, do you think that the nations of today who are persecuting Israel, or helping those who do persecute, are any safer against the wrath of God than were the Edomites?

It is useless to argue the treachery of the Jews. It is needless to urge that they have ever been and are still supplanters. The only thing is this: shall we avenge ourselves upon them, or shall we allow God to take them in hand. For our part, we are very fearful of any nation that carries forward their affliction. If our nation or any other nation, in this the hour of their grief, would open their doors and give them succour, opening their ports for their entrance, God would bless that nation.


1. The meaning of the day of the Lord. Those who have studied the minor Prophets have always noted the expression, "The day of the Lord." The word has to do with the day of the Lord's judgments. It is the hour when God is vindicating His righteousness, and giving out His rewards to Israel and the nations.

The day of the Lord is not the millennial day, but it is the day that immediately preceeds the thousand-year period. It is the day of the Lord, because it is the day when God does certain things, which will usher in the Lord's Return.

(1) It is the day when the nations are to be judged for the way they have treated "His brethren." This judgment will take place in the valley of Jehoshaphat.

(2) It is the day when the Lord will complete His judgments upon Israel. In other places it is called the day of Jacob's trouble, and the day of tribulation, and the day of indignation. In that day the greatest sorrows that Israel has ever known will be hers.

(3) It is the day that ushers in Israel's redemption. During Jacob's trouble Israel will cry unto the Lord, and the Lord will avenge His elect. God will take out the stony heart of His people and give her a heart of flesh. God will cause Israel to arise and shine for the day of her distress, will be the day in which God will give her life.

2. The fact that the day of the Lord is near. Some may desire to cavil and to say that the day of the Lord is not near, and certainly they will say it was not near when Obadiah said, "It is near." He who speaketh thus forgets that the prophet Obadiah was writing a vision from the Lord. In his vision he saw not alone Edom's past humiliation and God's past judgments upon her; but he also, with prophetic eye, looked down and saw another day in which history would repeat itself: in which the things that happened then will happen in a more intensified way. Thus it was, as the prophet foresaw all of these things befalling the Edomites, he cried out, "The day of the Lord is near upon all of the heathen."

With God the day of the Lord was then near, for with Him, a thousand years is but a day. As we write the day of the Lord is now doubly near, and we are crying, "Even so come, Lord Jesus."


Here are words which God spoke through Obadiah which are just as true today as they were then. The words are: "As thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head."

1. Mankind works out their own destiny. We do not mean by this statement that man can save himself, for salvation is of God and it is by grace. It is not of works lest any man should boast. That of which we speak is this: each individual and each nation works out its own destiny inasmuch as it shall be done unto them, as they have done unto others. Each works out his own destiny, inasmuch as each life or nation shall be rewarded according to their works.

Grace never has been, and is not now a license to evil-doings. The saved shall reap what they sow, even as the ungodly among the unregenerate, shall reap as they sow. "God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap."

When the wicked stand before the great white throne, they shall be judged, every man, according to his works. When the saints stand before the judgment seat of Christ one thousand years prior to the judgment of the great white throne, they also shall receive according to their works.

2. God has made plain His eternal principles of justice. Let us quote some of these to you.

"Give, and it shall be given unto you."

"He that killeth by the sword, shall be killed by the sword."

"If ye forgive not your brother his trespasses, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive you your trespasses."

"Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us."

While we are speaking there is one other thing in God's just judgment that needs to be emphasized. We not only reap what we sow, but we reap more than we sow. Unto Babylon God said: "Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled, fill to her double." The thought is again expressed, thus: "How much she glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her." God who judgeth is strong, and He is able to cast away in one day the glory which it took years to accumulate.

Where is he who thinks that he can escape the judgment of God? Think you that you can evade the great assize? This is impossible.


1. Mount Zion located. It seems strange that we need even to suggest such a thing as the location of Mount Zion. However, many people think of Zion as the Church, others think of it as heaven, or God's throne on high.

The fact is that Mount Zion is Jerusalem, the city which is destined to become the joy of the whole earth. Upon Mount Zion, at this writing, stands the Mosque of Omar. Mount Zion is now being trodden down by the feet of the Arabs.

2. Upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance. "Beautiful for situation is mount Zion." God shall yet be known in her palaces for a refuge. "Let mount Zion rejoice." "Walk about Zion, and go round about her." Zion of old was full of glory. Mount Zion shall once more be the center of a great world-wide government, when Christ comes back to reign on David's throne. Here is the way the Book of books puts it: "Out of Zion the perfection of beauty, God hath shined." When Christ comes, "Out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem."

3. Holiness shall prevail when Israel shall possess their possessions. "In that day there shall be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD." "Every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the Lord of hosts."

If one should ask, how can this thing be? We hasten the reply, "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean." "And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes."

In that glorious day, "The Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising." Another scripture says, "And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory."

4. The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. These words are God's very own. He will cause the captivity of Judah to return. The twelve tribes shall be brought back from all the lands whither God hath driven them, and they shall be one nation in the land, and the Lord shall be king over them all.

There is no doubt of it He that scattered Israel shall yet gather him. Amos, in the Spirit, puts it this way, "And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, I will plant them upon their land, * * and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land."


1. The political map of the world will be wholly changed when Christ shall come to reign. Even in nations where any rule is left, the rule shall be subjective to the rule and reign of Christ, for He shall be King of kings and Lord of lords. The nations shall be ruled from Jerusalem, by saints who shall reign with Him.

We remember how Christ said to his disciples: "In the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."

Not that alone, but Christ said through Paul, "If ye suffer, ye shall also reign with Him." There is, therefore, a deep meaning to the promise of Christ to one, "Have authority over ten cities"; and to another, "Be thou also over five cities."

2. The rulers of the corning age will be saviours. Mark the statement in the first clause of Obadiah 1:21 : "And saviours shall come up on mount Zion, to judge the mount of Esau."

This is an age of dictatorships. Be it granted that they are doing what they can for their several lands, their "can" is not sufficient. Peace has almost left the earth. War is hovering near. The stress of the times is felt on every hand. Taxation is heavy, and the masses faint by the way.

The antichrist may appear on the scene as a "saviour," but not for long. For, under his dictatorship, the slain of the Lord will be many, and the earth will reel to and fro as a drunkard, under the judgments of God.

After the Antichrist and the false prophet are cast into the lake of fire, then saviours (so called in honor of their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ) will reign in equity, and God will hear and answer the cry of the needy. Righteousness and truth will then kiss one another. A thousand times more than the biggest dreams of impossible social present-day socialism will God make good among men.

3. These saviours will rule the mount of Esau. We wonder if the Scripture, "Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garment from Bozrah?" does not have a significant bearing just here. It seems to us that after His feet stand upon the mount of Olives, the Lord will personally go to His chosen ones among Israel who may have refuge in Petra or Edom, as they fled into the wilderness from the wrath of the antichrist.

VII. THE KINGDOM SHALL BE THE LORD'S (Obadiah 1:21 , l.c.)

1. The words of the prophet Obadiah are frequently challenged. We are living in an age when the poulace care but little about coming things, especially as they are outlined in the Bible. To them any coming of Christ at all, especially any coming as KING, is an unknown quantity. If they hear it by radio, or if they read it in the printed page, they pass it up as a myth.

To many others, even among some orthodox preachers of the Gospel, and universally among modernist preachers, the kingship of Christ is either relegated to an heavenly sphere, with an earthly kingdom, and an absent King; or else it is denied with a wave of dismissal.

2. Why the coming of the king should be earnestly preached. There are two reasons why the King and His kingdom, should just now be emphasized. The first, is the present-hour fulfillment of prophecy, with the soon coming of the King daily hastening toward its fulfillment. The second reason is that the Word of God gives so definite and so positive a testimony relative to the Coming of Christ as King, that to deny it, is to deny the whole verity of the Scriptures.

We might add a third reason: The coming of the King and His kingly rule on earth, is the only assuring hope in this hour of trembling and fear.

3. Are the words of the prophet true? We aver that they are, and for the following reasons:

(1) The Old Testament frequently makes prophetic statements of the certainty of Christ, as a king on David's throne. The passages are too many for this address. We mention one in Isaiah 9:6 . "Unto us a child is born and unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end upon the throne of David, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and justice from henceforth and forever." Let the one who seeks to deny this truth mark the words which close the statement, "The zeal of the Lord of Hosts SHALL PERFORM THIS."

(2) David believed Christ would sit on his throne and Peter at Pentecost verified David's faith. (Read Acts 2:30-31 .)

(3) The Bible closes with the coming of Christ as King in its last book. (See Revelation 19:1-21 .) He was announced to Mary by Gabriel under the promise, "The Lord God shall give unto Him, the throne of His father David." The wise men from the East came to worship Him, King of the Jews; He died under the superscription, "King of the Jews," and He is announced in His Second Coming as "King of kings."

Space fails me to give more references. Get your concordance and hunt up for yourselves all the statements of Christ as King or ruler among men.


At the beginning of one of C. E. Hughes' heroic campaigns, many of his so-called friends warned him of the violent attacks he would receive from the opposition. They said, "The opposition will stop at nothing; they will defame your character, they will ruin you politically." "Gentlemen," said the governor, "there is only one man in the world who can harm Charles E. Hughes, and that man is Charles E. Hughes." The sons of Eli were the authors of their own undoing.

Bibliographical Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Obadiah 1". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lwc/obadiah-1.html.
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