Since Saturday, October 7th, 2023, the eyes of the world have been on Israel and the war against Hamas. While the world gropes for understanding, we can turn to Scripture. Because “the Lord God does nothing unless he reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets,” can we know what will come to pass according to His Word (Amos 3:7, NASB).
One source of insight on what is happening in the world today is the book of Obadiah. Obadiah’s name means “servant of the Lord.” This is the shortest book in the Old Testament and is not quoted in the New Testament. We know very little about Obadiah as a person. Background on who he was and where he was from is missing. But this book is important not because of the human author but due to the message Obadiah received from the Lord concerning “The Day of the Lord.”
Obadiah’s Prophecy About Edom and Israel
Obadiah begins with a prophecy against Edom. In verses 10-14, God charged that Edom “stood aloof, on the day that strangers carried off [your brother Jacob’s] wealth, and foreigners entered his gate and cast lots for Jerusalem—you too were as one of them” (NASB). He also said:
- You should not have gloated over your brother on the day of his misfortune.
- You should not have rejoiced over the people of Judah on the day of their ruin.
- You should not have boasted on the day of distress.
- You should not have entered the gate of my people on the day of their calamity.
- You should not have joined in the gloating over Judah’s disaster on the day of his calamity.
- You should not have looted his wealth on the day of his calamity.
- You should not have stood at the crossings to cut off his fugitives.
- You should not have imprisoned his survivors on the day of distress.
Second Chronicles 21 describes when the Edomites assisted the enemy in attacking Israel and when they rejoiced over Israel’s distress. It also says “the Philistines and the Arabs who bordered the Ethiopians…went up against Judah and invaded it” (vv. 16-17). Other passages also record the offenses of the Edomites:
- When Israel left Egypt and wanted to pass through the land of the Edom enroute to the Promised Land, the Edomites wouldn’t let them (Numbers 20:14-21).
- The Edomites opposed Saul and were conquered by David and Solomon (1 Samuel 14:47, 2 Samuel 8:14, 1 Kings 9:26).
- In the days of King Jehoshaphat, Edom joined with Moab and Ammon to attack Judah, but the Lord fought for Judah and defeated them (2 Chronicles 20:1-27).
- The Edomites successfully rebelled against King Jehoram (2 Kings 8:16-22).
- The Edomites attacked Judah in the days of King Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:17).
Although directed at Edom, Obadiah’s prophecy applies to other nations as well. Verse 15 prophesies: “For the day of the Lord is near against all the nations. As you have done, it shall be done to you. Your dealings will return on your own head” (NASB).
The House of Jacob, Joseph, and Esau
Obadiah 17-20 list nations and territories by name:
“But on Mount Zion there will be those who escape, and it will be holy. And the house of Jacob will possess their possessions. Then the house of Jacob will be a fire and the house of Joseph a flame; but the house of Esau will be as stubble. And they will set them on fire and consume them so that there will be no survivor of the house of Esau,” for Yahweh has spoken. Then those of the Negev will possess the mountain of Esau, and those of the Shephelah, the Philistine plain; and they will possess the territory of Ephraim and the territory of Samaria, and Benjamin will possess Gilead. And the exiles of this military force of the sons of Israel, who are among the Canaanites as far as Zarephath, and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad, will possess the cities of the Negev.”
- The house of Jacob is the Jews.
- The house of Esau is the Arabs.
- There will be no survivors from the house of Esau—which includes modern-day Hamas and Hezbollah.
- The people from the Negev is Israel.
- The mountain of Esau is modern-day Jordan.
- The Philistine plain is modern-day Gaza.
- The fields of Ephraim and Samaria is the modern-day West Bank.
- Gilead is Jordan, the modern-day East bank of the Jordan River.
According to Scripture, there is a day coming when modern-day Israel will again possess what is known today as the West Bank, Gaza, and Jordan. Adding this prophecy to Psalm 83, Ezekiel 38-39, Isaiah, Joel, and Zechariah, we get a picture of Israel prospering in a manner the world has not seen since King David and Solomon (1,000 BC).
Obadiah 18 paints a vivid picture: “The house of Jacob will be a fire and the house of Joseph a flame; but the house of Esau will be as stubble. And they will set them on fire and consume them so that there will be no survivor of the house of Esau, for Yahweh has spoken.”
The house of Jacob and the house of Joseph are Jews, which is modern-day Israel. It seems there will be an attack on Israel (a fire, a flame) however, Israel (God’s chosen) will prevail to the point that, “There will be no survivors from the house of Esau.”
A Forward-Looking Vision
The principle of God’s curse falling on those who curse Israel offers a prophetic warning to the nations of the world. That curse certainly includes modern-day Arabs who oppose Israel as Edom did, such as Hezbollah and Hamas.
The vision Obadiah received was twofold. The first part of it addressed God’s dealing with Edom. The second part focused directly on Israel and its future. Some believe Obadiah even saw the future period when the Messiah, Jesus, establishes His Millennium Kingdom. The final verse of this short prophetic book foretells a coming day when “the kingdom will be the LORD’s” (v. 21, NASB).
As the LORD God told Obadiah, the day of the LORD is near!
Maranatha, Lord Jesus!