The first portion of Obadiah’s prophecy (verses 1-14) deals with the historical events involving the plunder of Jerusalem and impending destruction of Edom for their “unbrotherly conduct” toward Judah during their distress. The final portion (verses 15-21) sets the downfall of guilty Edom within the wider perspective of the future, “Day of the Lord.” Verse 15 of Obadiah is very significant, stating that, “the day of the LORD is near upon all the nations.” Edom’s defeat is merely a prelude to the judgment that will come upon all nations who do not acknowledge the Lord. The Day of the Lord is a very significant thread throughout Old Testament prophetic literature. The prophets looked forward to a time when Yahweh would finally intervene in human history and right all wrongs in this wicked world, ultimately bringing mankind’s acts of rebellion, self-sufficiency and oppression to a just close. In Revelation 6:9-11, the martyrs who had been slain for the word of God, cry out for God to avenge their blood. This will take place on the day Christ returns to judge the living and the dead. The Old Testament prophets’ end-time motif often includes the participation of the people of God in His final victory. Obadiah highlights the role of God’s remnant people on that day in verses 17 and 21. In the book of Revelation chapter 19, we find God’s people involved on the Day of the Lord when Christ returns.
Verse 15 contains the principle of God’s justice: “As you have done, it shall be done to you; your deeds shall return on your own head.” In the Bible, God’s judgment is always according to deeds. The same standard of justice applies throughout history, on the individual level as well as for nations. Paul stresses this in Romans 2:1-11. God is perfectly just, and there is no partiality with Him. On the Day of the Lord, the wicked will receive a just retribution for their deeds. In verse 16, Obadiah portrays the nations as drinking from the cup of God’s wrath. This figure is used in the Scripture to express God’s judgment (see Psalm 75:8). This is particularly poignant for the Christian, as we understand that Christ submitted to His Father’s will, taking the cup of wrath on our behalf. Knowing this, let us not live as the Edomites – hostile to God as those without hope; but let us live as Christ in us, the hope of glory!