Sunday School Bible Survey:      OBADIAH

Theme: God's judgment upon Edom.

Key verse: "How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up!" (Obadiah 6).

From the Scofield Study Bible:
Internal evidence seems to fix the date of Obadiah's ministry in the reign of the bloody Athaliah (II Kings 8:16-26). If this be true, and if the ministry of Joel was during the reign of Joash, then Obadiah is chronologically first of the writing prophets, and first to use the formula, "the day of the LORD." (Cf. Joel 1:4, note).

The book is in four parts::

  1. Edom's humiliation (vss. 1-9).
  2. The crowning sin of Edom (vss. 10-14).
  3. The future visitation of Edom in the day of the Lord (vss. 15, 16; Isa. 34; 63:1-6).
  4. The inclusion of Edom in the future kingdom (vss. 17-21; Numbers 24:17-19).


  1. Obadiah is the smallest book in the Old Testament -- just 21 verses. Little is known about the author.
  2. There are several people in the Old Testament with that name, most notably the governor of King Ahab's house (I Kings 18).
  3. Scofield says the name means, "Worshiper of Jehovah."
  4. Others say the name means, "Servant of Jehovah."
  5. John Phillips refers to Obadiah as "the prophet of Edom's doom," and says, "The prophecy of Obadiah is a classic warning against anti-Semitism. The nation that curses and persecutes the Jew will inevitably reap what it sows. The nation that harbors and protects the Jew will surely enjoy the blessing of God (Gen. 12:2, 3)" — Exploring the Scriptures.
  6. The Edomites traced their history back to Esau, the twin brother of Jacob. Half the book of Obadiah deals with Edom, and the other part with Israel.
  7. There is wide disagreement over the date of Obadiah. (See Scofield.) Some say he prophesied during the reign of King Jehoram (c. 852-841 BC) when Jerusalem was plundered by the Philistines and the Arabians (cf. II Chron. 21:16, 17).
  8. Others believe his ministry was much later, when Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians in 587 BC. The Edomites participated in the plunder, and gloated over Jerusalem's destruction.
  9. "Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof" (Psalm 137:7).
  10. Obadiah 10-14 seems to indicate that this (Ps. 137:7) is the invasion Obadiah is referring to.
  11. The Edomites dwelt in Mount Seir, a mountainous region south of Moab. Today this territory is part of Jordan.
  12. Bozrah was Edom's ancient capital (cf. Isaiah 63:1-4).


  1. When the children of Israel were on their way to the Promised Land, the Edomites refused them passage through their territory (Numbers 20:14-22).
  2. But the hostility goes back much further than that. It started even before Jacob and Esau were born (Gen. 25:19-34).
  3. Despite their mistreatment, the LORD instructed the Israelites to treat the Edomites as brethren. "Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother" (Deut. 23:7).
  4. In Scripture, Edom represents the flesh (cf. Gen. 27:39-41; Malachi 1:1-5; Romans 9:10-13).
  5. Hebrews 12:16, 17 says, "Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears."


  1. Today's Arabs and Palestinians are descended from the Edomites and the other ancient neighbors of Israel. Ezekiel 25:15 refers to "the old hatred."
  2. Ezekiel 35:5 says Edom had a "perpetual hatred" against Israel.
  3. Edom's hatred for Israel resulted in God's hatred for them (Malachi 1:1-5).
  4. Malachi wrote these words about four hundred years before Christ. That would be about 1,400 years after the birth of Esau.
  5. The Lord Jesus Christ is descended from Jacob. Herod is descended from Esau.

OUTLINE (from John Phillips)


  1. The doom declared (1, 2)
  2. The doom described (3—9)
  3. The doom deserved (10—14)
  4. The doom dawns (15, 16)


  1. The character of it (17a)
  2. The completeness of it (17b—20)
  3. The climax of it (21)

These are simple Sunday School survey notes. They are not for sale. The author used many outlines from popular Bible teachers such as C.I. Scofield and J. Vernon McGee, and he has tried to give credit when using their material.

—  Pastor James J. Barker  —