Time of Obadiah: Great disagreement exists about the time of the writing of the book of Obadiah, with at least four distinct possibilities surfacing: (1) 926 B. C., in which Shishak of Egypt plundered the temple and palace of Jerusalem during the reign of Rehoboam; at that time Edom was still subject to Judah, which does not fit verses 10-14; (2) 848-841 during the reign of Jehoram, as Judah was being invaded by the Phililstines and Arabians, in which Edom revolted and became a bitter enemy (II Kings 8: 20-22); (3) 790 B. C. in the invasion of King Jehoash of Israel (but would Obadiah in verse 1 call these invaders "strangers"? and (4)586 B. C., when Nebuchadnezzsar of Babylon defeated and destroyed Jerusalem.
Of the above four possibilities for the dating of Obadiah, numbers 2 and 4 seem most plausible.
The author of Obadiah: Thirteen Obadiahs are mentioned in the Old Testament. If the author of this book is any one of those, the four best possibilities are (1) the officer in Ahab's palace who hid God's prophets in a cave (I Kings 18: 3) (2) one sent by Jehosaphat to teach the Law to the cities of Judah (II Chronicles 17: 7) (3) one of the overseers who took part in repairing the temple under Josiah (II Chronicles 34: 12), or (4) a priest who served in the time of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 10: 5).
Uniqueness of Obadiah: Obadiah, like only the book of Nahum, offers no hope for the Edomites whose destruction was foretold, and offered no repentance from God. These two books foretold the end, Obadiah for Edom and Nahum for Assyria, that would not be averted. The red-haired people who descended from Esau would be wiped out as a nation in the fall of Jerusalem in A. D. 70 and would never be identifiable as a nation of people again.
Textual message from Obadiah. Doubts about the dating of Obadiah and of its exact author have little bearing on the message of the book: The Edomites had played falsely with the Israelite nation, failing to help them in time of invasion. They had consorted with Israel's enemies in the time of invasion. Because of this, the descendants of Esau would be destroyed. Application. We should never get ourselves into a posture of non-repentance. True, it is not the will of the Father that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (I Peter 5: 8). But a person can make such a habit of sin that he can lack the desire to ever come to repentance, and thus be lost.
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