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Minor Prophets 101 [5-26-24]

May 26, 2024


“Minor Prophets 101”

Placed in order of earliest to latest among the Minor Prophets, Obadiah ranks fourth oldest. Hosea, Joel, Amos, and then Obadiah.

For those who are into numbers and counting, Obadiah uses only 291 words. It is the shortest book in the Old Testament. For contrast, Jeremiah is the longest book in the Old Testament, with 21,819 words. Crunch those numbers, and Obadiah is 1.3% of the length of Jeremiah. Who was definitely not a bullfrog, I must add.

Obadiah is part of what is called the Book of the Twelve. These are the Minor Prophets of the Old Testament. The Major Prophets are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel. Which means there are seventeen prophetic books in the Old Testament.

The difference between the five and the twelve is easy to remember. The first five are described as Major Prophets because their books are longer and their content covers a grander scale. The books of the Minor Prophets are shorter, with more narrowly focused content.

While all seventeen prophetic books probably occupy the back shelf of interest among all books of the Bible, their content is hugely valuable. We read of Jesus’ birth in Isaiah and Micah. We read of Jesus’ sacrificial death in Isaiah. We read of Jesus’ return in Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah. We read of Jesus’ resurrection in Jonah. We read of God’s holiness, wrath, grace, and mercy in all seventeen.

Who was Obadiah? For a number of reasons, he doesn’t tell us anything about himself. For contrast, Isaiah 1:1 says:

“The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.”

He places himself in family and in a point in history. His father, Amoz, 

which means “strong” in Hebrew, was also a prophet. We know bits and pieces about most of the other prophets. Not so with Obediah.

Thirteen different men are named Obadiah in the Bible. It means “the Lord’s servant” or “worshiper of Yahweh.” Great name with a great meaning. Believe it or not, Obadiah is the 3122nd most popular baby name for a boy in America. In 2021, 1 in every 18,986 baby boys born were named Obadiah. For contrast, our youngest granddaughter’s name is Liesl. Liesl was the 4393rd most popular girl’s name in 2021. In 2021, only 31 baby girls were named Liesl. 1 out of every 57,403 baby girls born were named Liesl. Obadiah is not as obscure as other names. Regardless, if you want to guarantee your baby boy’s name is the only one within at least one time zone, Obadiah is the name for you.

Obadiah was a contemporary of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. He lived during the turbulent years after the capture and destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. Living through those harsh times, his prophecies focused on God’s judgment against the Edomites for their part in destroying Jerusalem. We’re going to learn a lot more about Edom 

throughout this series.

Here's something you might want to write down. Obadiah’s focus was that God would not forget His people. Even in their captivity:


Before we move into more specifics about Obadiah, how about a little detour? Let’s dig in to some general details of Minor Prophets.

First, we know they were written a long time ago. Obadiah was written sometime in the 500s B.C. We know Obadiah was part of the other eleven Minor Prophets because of a guy named Sirach. He wrote the Book of Sirach. Here’s the cool thing about Sirach. His writings, consisting primarily of ethical teachings, is one of the oldest existing non-Biblical texts. It was written between 196 and 175 B.C. The Minor Prophets are referred to by Sirach, which means they were already organized in a cohesive collection. Amazing historical record.

Here's a picture of a sign someone posted a few weeks ago at a beach in San Diego County, California:

The person who shared it with me…not a believer…said the threat of perishing was mean. To which I suggested that since it was a quote from Jesus, it could not possibly be mean. Simply true. What’s mean is not telling people the truth. And then I added, “You better stay away from the prophets of the Old Testament.”

Here's the central point of the Minor Prophets:

Jews and Gentiles Alike Need to Repent of Sin and Live for God.

Putting more flesh to that, a loving and just God desires that wicked people repent and turn from their sins. If they do, on the Day of the Lord, they will receive the blessings that come through His promised Messiah, rather than judgment. In other words, since God has provided the only way to live eternally in His presence, start living like it. Nothing mean about that. In fact, it’s the opposite of mean. It’s a blessed promise of eternity in paradise. All someone has to do is live like a decent human being.

Listen to Leviticus 19:18:

“You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”

Then there’s Deuteronomy 6:5:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

We hear these reflected in the essential teachings of Jesus. And then, after Jesus, Paul and Peter expanded on what they mean:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

  • Galatians 5:22-23

“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.”

2 Peter 1:5-7

Now, don’t misunderstand. The point isn’t to be decent human beings in order to be saved. Here’s the point:


If we believe that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior…that he died on the cross for our sin…believing that directs our behavior. A rudderless life reflects a lack of faith.

Again, remember the beach sign – Repent or Perish. It’s not a threat. It’s simply Biblical truth. Minor Prophets reflect this truth. They warn of the consequences of failure to keep the law. Listen to Hosea 14:9:

“Whoever is wise, let him understand these things;    whoever is discerning, let him know them;for the ways of the Lord are right,    and the upright walk in them,    but transgressors stumble in them.”

The second theme of the Minor Prophets is that God will intervene in world affairs. He will judge the unrighteous:

  • Malachi 4:5-6 - “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

And He will bless the righteous:

  • Obadiah 1:17 – “But in Mount Zion there shall be those who escape, and it shall be holy, and the house of Jacob shall possess their own possessions.”

The third major theme of the Minor Prophets is the love of God. Again, from Malachi:

“I have loved you,” says the Lord.

  • Malachi 1:2

Fourth, the Minor Prophets looked forward to the birth of the Messiah:

  • Micah 5:2 – “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”

  • Zechariah 9:9 – “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he,humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

  • Jonah 2:10 – “And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.”

And then, to top it all off, Jesus reminded his disciples of prophetic testimony:

“And taking the twelve, he said to them, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.’”

  • Luke 18:31

Finally, in this series we’ll be visiting the kingdom of Edom. It plays a major role in Obadiah. Obadiah was only one of three prophets who pronounced judgment primarily on other nations. Nahum and Habakkuk were the others. As we’ll see, the reason is clear:


Until next week:


To the Glory of God Alone

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