Obadiah: Edom, the Nations and the Kingdom of God

On November 19, 1863, the National Soldiers’ Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was consecrated, and the primary speaker was Edward Everett, former president of Harvard College, former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State.  At the time he was recognized as the country’s leading orator.   The dedication was originally scheduled for October 23, but Everett said he needed more time to prepare the Gettysburg address so the date was moved back to November 19.  President Abraham Lincoln was to follow Everett with “a few appropriate remarks.” 

Everett gave his well-tuned speech, and, as was customary for such occasions, he spoke for two hours, all from memory (13,607 words!).  Lincoln followed with a speech of 10 sentences and 272 words; it took less than two minutes to deliver.  It was one of Lincoln’s shortest speeches, but it has become the most well-known oration in American history and most memorized speeches.  His speech renewed the nation’s commitment to the equality of all and to democracy under God.  Lincoln’s “few appropriate remarks” are now known as the Gettysburg Address, and Everett’s majestic speech has long since been forgotten. 

Shortly after Lincoln was assassinated on April 15, 1865, Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts wrote these words about that short speech:  “That speech, uttered at the field of Gettysburg…and now sanctified by the martyrdom of its author, is a monumental act. In the modesty of his nature he said ‘the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; but it can never forget what they did here.’ He was mistaken. The world at once noted what he said, and will never cease to remember it.”

This week we will look at the shortest book in the Old Testament, a mere twenty-one verses.  You can probably read it in just a few minutes.  Yet it is an indispensable word from the Lord for us.  I doubt anyone of us has ever memorized this text of Scripture, but we had better remember its message! 

Pray:  Jesus prayed that His and our Father in Heaven would sanctify us by the truth, His Word is truth.  Make that the heart of your prayer as you begin your meditation on the book of Obadiah. 

Read:  All 21 verses, two times carefully!

Meditate:  This is the shortest book in the Old Testament (third shortest in the entire Bible!) and we know virtually nothing about the author.   There are several Obadiah’s in the Old Testament but there is no firm connection between the prophet and any of them.  It is apparent that the Lord gave this vision to Obadiah sometime after the fall of Jerusalem, 587-586 B.C.  The message is clear, but the lessons will require thought.  Let the questions help you meditate on this short but important prophetic book.