Obadiah—Is the prophecy of Obadiah simply an expression of Jewish nationalism?
Problem: The prophecy of Obadiah is essentially a message of divine moral judgment upon the nations. Of the 21 verses that comprise this book, 16 are directed as pronouncements of coming judgment against Edom, and 5 verses are dedicated to the prophecies of the future triumph of Israel over Edom. But, isn’t this simply an example of Jewish nationalism rather than a revelation of God?
Solution: The Book of Obadiah is a revelation of the sovereignty of God presented in the midst of national disgrace and defeat. The impotence of God’s people against their enemies was a reflection upon the power of the God of Israel. Wasn’t Yahweh a defeated God? Wasn’t He powerless to resist the enemies of His people? No is Obadiah’s resounding reply! The God of Israel will keep His promises even though the future looks black. The nations have not understood that their temporary victory over God’s people was the very work of God. The message of Obadiah is that the God of Israel is always in complete control, and He will accomplish His purpose. It is a message of faith and hope, and triumph against the enemies of God. But the triumph of Israel will be a blessing to all nations. Israel’s apostasy brought judgment. But, “if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” (Rom. 11:15) This book is not simply an expression of Jewish nationalism. It is a declaration of the faithfulness of God, and a testimony to His moral justice by which He will ultimately establish justice in the earth.
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.