Bible Reading for SEP23: Obadiah, Jonah

The Book of Obadiah is the shortest book in the
Bible (21 verses), written by Obadiah, whose name means
“the servant of the Lord.” It was written about 586
b.c., and contains Edom’s condemnation, because of her
treachery toward Judah; the prophecy of her utter
destruction; and the salvation of Judah in the Day of
the Lord. The book was written in Jerusalem, at the
time when Jerusalem was being destroyed by the
Babylonian armies. The book deals with Esau, Jacob,
Edom, and Israel.

The prophet presents a twofold message. Verses
1-16 consider God’s vengeance on Edom. In verses 10-14
Obadiah names some of the sins of Edom, and in verse 15
we note that God would treat the Edomites just the way
they had treated the Jews. Violence would fall upon
them and their own confederates would betray them
(verses 10,11).

In verses 17-21 God promises Jacob the victory.
God also promises deliverance and cleansing for Mount
Zion. The constant struggle between Esau and Jacob
continues throughout the Bible. The Herods were the New
Testament Edomites. One killed the Jewish babies in an
effort to destroy Christ (Matthew 2:16-18). Another
murdered John the Baptist. Another killed James, the
brother of John. The struggle between the Israelites
and the Arabs today is a continuation of this same
battle that began in Genesis 25.

Jonah was, in fact, an actual person in history
(see II Kings 14:25). He was a very popular preacher,
but when God called him to go to Nineveh, the capital
of the Assyrian Empire, Jonah rebelled. History tells
us that the Assyrians were cruel and heartless people
who thought nothing of skinning their enemies and
burying them alive, or impaling them on sharp poles
under the hot sun. Jonah did not love his enemies, and
did not care that the city was going to be overthrown.
He had rather disobey God than see his enemies saved.

Chapter 1 records God’s patience with the
rebellious preacher. So many people today are like
Jonah. They are disobedient to God’s leading. We learn
from the Book of Jonah that God has a perfect will for
each of us. When we do not follow His leading, we
suffer. Likewise, many people today are like Jonah in
that they do not love their enemies. They would rather
see them destroyed than try to help them. Christ loved
even those who rebelled against Him, those who spit
upon Him, those who drove the nails into His hands and
feet. As followers of Christ, we should have the mind
of Christ.

In chapter 2 Jonah is chastened by God, and
Jonah repented from his sin. God then cleansed him and
gave him another chance.

In chapter 3 we have a lesson in God’s power.
As Jonah went to Nineveh to preach, God gave him the
message he was to proclaim to the people. Chapter 4:11
says there were more than 120,000 persons who could not
discern between their right hand and their left hand.
Nineveh was the center of the rising empire of Assyria.
The faithfulness of Jonah to preach the message God had
given him brought a great change in the city. From the
king to the lowest citizens, there were expressions of
fear and repentance, and God forgave their sins. This
was undoubtedly one of the greatest revivals in
history, and it shows what the Lord can do with a frail
human instrument who will preach His message.

Chapter 4 again shows the rebellion of Jonah.
Instead of being happy and rejoicing at what had taken
place, Jonah was angry at the people and at God. This
proves that it is possible to serve the Lord, and yet
not love people. Jonah is so unlike Jesus in this
chapter, for Jesus looked upon the city of lost souls
and wept.

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