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Poetic Justice is defined as 'the fact of experiencing a fitting or deserved retribution for one's actions'. Maybe an example will give us a better understanding:

Learning that her husband had betrayed her, Vera Czermak jumped out her third-story window in Prague. The newspaper Vicerni Praha reported that Mrs. Czermak was recovering in the hospital, after landing on her husband, who was killed.731[1]

Vera's husband was the recipient of some poetic justice. As we dig into the book of Obadiah, we'll see some poetic justice in God's dealing with Edom. The Edomite actions are characterized as Esau gloating over the misfortunes of Jacob. In the end, all the harm that once befell Jacob would come on Esau.

To set the background of the book we should remember Esau and Jacob were the twin sons of Isaac. Esau was the eldest (by mere moments) but in Gen 25:29-33 we see him sell his birthright to Jacob. Later, in Isaac's old age he instructed Esau to prepare a meal and then receive the blessing of the older son. But Rebekah and Jacob conspired for Jacob to receive this blessing in Esau's place. Then Esau came home to find the blessing had gone to Jacob.

And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.


39 Then Isaac his father answered and said to him:

"Behold, your dwelling shall be of the fatness of the earth,

And of the dew of heaven from above.

40By your sword you shall live,

And you shall serve your brother;

And it shall come to pass, when you become restless,

That you shall break his yoke from your neck."

41 So Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him, and Esau said in his heart, "The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob."

(Genesis 27:38-41)


This sets the tone of the relationship between the two brothers. Jacob receives the blessings and promises that God had previously made to Abraham and Isaac. He marries Rachel and Leah while Esau marries an Ishmaelite. Jacob returned to Canaan after he escaped the grip of Laban. Meanwhile Esau settled in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. They become a picture of two brothers that went two different ways. One receiving the promise, though by deceit, lack of trust and sin. The other parting from God's ways, despising his birthright and family ties.

The bible gives us several examples of the flesh verses the spirit.

· Cain & Able

· Ishmael & Isaac

· Esau & Jacob

· Manasseh & Ephraim

· Reuben & Joseph

· Haman & Mordecai


Obaddiah means 'servant of the Lord' and may be the proper name of the writer or it quite possibly describes the writer (or even both). The fact is that we know virtually nothing about . There are several 's in the bible, yet none really match up with this one. The book of is the shortest book in the OT and it is not quoted in the NT. There is some belief that the setting of is likely to be when the Philistines invaded Jerusalem between 848B.C & 841B.C. during the reign of Rehoboam. See 1 Kings 14:25,26 and 2 Chronicles 12 for more. However, most scholars place it in 697B.C.at the fall of Jerusalem. There is not enough information to place it exactly into a historical setting; yet, the facts remain and the outcome is clear. Edom's hatred for the Jews would be judged. See also Jeremiah 49:7-22; Lamentations 4:21-22; Ezekiel 25:12-14; Joel 3:19; Amos 9:12.


Obadiah 1-4

This is the supernatural vision or revelation to the servant of the Lord. The report from God is that the message has been sent to the nations; a coalition was being formed by the soveriegn hand of God and by His will. This coalition of neighboring nations would rise up in battle as a tool of God's judgment.

Eddom treated Jacob as small and despised among nations. They celebrated the superpowers overthrowing them and destroying them in battle. It was their pride that led them astray; trusting in their strongholds, their armies and their ways. Their arrogance was based on a false security; they lived in the clefts of rock at Sela. This was considered an impenatrable fortress as the dwelt high in the clefts of the rock. In their heart, they asked who could possbily bring them down. God answers the question in vere 4.

There is no height or distance that is out of the reach of the judgment of the Lord. Their fortress was nothing to the sovereign God that created it and set them in it.


Obadiah 5-7

The thief coming by night to rob them would have shown restraint in only robbing them til they had enough. Those gathering their grapes would not have stripped them all; some would be left behind. When God is done with them there will be no mistaking what happened. They won't be able to blame the robbers and thiefts; they won't call it bad luck or just circumstance. God would bring them down. They would be searched out and found along with all their treasures. The confederacy that God assembled would do His work. This enemy wold come from those who they thought they were at peace with. The deception is grand in that those sitting down to eat with them are in on the deception and no one is aware of it.


Obadiah 8-9

The Edomites had a reputation of wisdom, yet even the wise men won't escape judgment. In his infinite understanding and ability to counsel and advise, the wise man will have nothing to offer nor will he remain unaffected. In the poetic language of verse 8 Esau is substituted for Edom to show the conflict of nations did start with a conflict of brothers.

While Edom was known for wisdom in general the men of Teman were known as warriors or mighty men. Eliphaz, one of Job's friends was a Temanite. In this great slaughter, the mighty men will be dismayed; that is struck with fear and dread. They will then be just men.


Obadiah 10-14

The biblical tradition accuses the Edomites of standing idly by, doing nothing to help as Jerusalem was attacked. Esau gloated over the demise of his brother Jacob.

7Remember, O Lord, against the sons of Edom

The day of Jerusalem,

Who said, "Raze it, raze it,

To its very foundation!"

Psalm 137:7


It was for their violence against Israel they would dishonored and put to shame. When they 'stood on the other side' was their constant opposition with Israel.


12 'Thus says the Lord God: "Because of what Edom did against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and has greatly offended by avenging itself on them," 13 therefore thus says the Lord God: "I will also stretch out My hand against Edom, cut off man and beast from it, and make it desolate from Teman; Dedan shall fall by the sword. 14 I will lay My vengeance on Edom by the hand of My people Israel, that they may do in Edom according to My anger and according to My fury; and they shall know My vengeance," says the Lord God.

Ezekiel 25:12-14


Ezekiel speaks an oracle against Edom in chapter 35 that sounds very much like the book of Obadiah. The punch of the Oracle comes in Ezekiel 35:10-15.

10 "Because you have said, 'These two nations and these two countries shall be mine, and we will possess them,' although the Lord was there, 11 therefore, as I live," says the Lord God, "I will do according to your anger and according to the envy which you showed in your hatred against them; and I will make Myself known among them when I judge you. 12 Then you shall know that I am the Lord. I have heard all your blasphemies which you have spoken against the mountains of Israel, saying, 'They are desolate; they are given to us to consume.' 13 Thus with your mouth you have boasted against Me and multiplied your words against Me; I have heard them."


14 'Thus says the Lord God: "The whole earth will rejoice when I make you desolate. 15 As you rejoiced because the inheritance of the house of Israel was desolate, so I will do to you; you shall be desolate, O Mount Seir, as well as all of Edom—all of it! Then they shall know that I am the Lord." '


The Edomites stood by while the Babylonians sacked Israel and Jerusalem and carried them to captivity. God holds Edom accountable; in their gloating and standing by doing nothing they were complicit in the crimes agasinst Jacob.


Obadiah 12-14

Edom took adavantage of the defeat of Israel and moved into some of the southern parts of Judah laying claim to that land. God informed them in verse thirteen that they shouldn't have laid their hands on what wasn't theirs. It's as if Edom stood at the crossroads offering safe passage to the Babylonians as they carried Israel away captive and they steped in behind them to take what wasn't theirs


Obadiah 15-16

Edom stands as an example to all the nations that stand against God and His people. Their judgment then typifies how God will judge all the nations in that day of the Lord. The principal used will be:

As you have done, it shall be done to you;

Your reprisal shall return upon your own head.[2]


As they drank and celebrated in the calamity that fell on Israel; they will drink continually in a similar manner; not in celebration but drinking completely in the cup of wrath.

See also Zechariah 12:2.


Obadiah 17-18

In contrast to the cup of wrath being delivered to the nations, there shall be deliverance on Mount Zion. Jacob will possess what's been promised and given and there will be holiness. Instead of Jacob a victim of judgment, they shall stand as an agent of judgment; a fire and a flame brought against the stubble of Edom. This judgment will completely devour them to the point of no survivors.


Obadiah 19-21

As Edom goes, so goes all the nations. Israel will then possess those neighboring nations that stood against them. Those in the sourthern part of Israel will possess the mountains of Esau. All through the nation, those nearest to these enemy nations will cross the borders and take possession of the land and the cities.

The saviors, the warriors and mighty men God are used as agents of judgment to come to Jerusalem and deliver divine justice against Esau. Jacob would prevail in the struggle that started in the womb (Gen 25:23). And the kingdom shall be the Lord's.


Obadiah brings us a divinely inspired message of divine judgment that will usher in the final goal of the divine Kingdom. What nation can escape the hand of God; the mighty? The wise? The wealthy? The shrewd? Politically connected? Even the dishonest, unbelieving, violent and untrustworthy can't overcome the final judgment of nations.

Edom stands as an paradigm example of all the nations. The cup Edom drank in rejoicing at Israel's suffering and conquering will be the equal and opposite cut she will drink continually. The large cup of celebration that was drank completely will become a large cup of wrath that will be drank to the dregs.

God's will be done, His kingdom come. Israel will live out the lesson that Obadiah reveals: the punishment of one's enemies can be a blessing. Vengeance belongs to the Lord and He will exercise that vengeance on His schedule.

Be Blessed.

©2017 Doug Ford


[1] Michael P. Green. (2000). 1500 illustrations for biblical preaching (p. 209). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[2] The New King James Version. (1982). (Ob 15). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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