In 597 B.C., Edom helped the Babylonians to sack Jerusalem and carry off their wealth and people. Though Edom was a vassal state to Jerusalem, they were all too happy to gain favor with the all-powerful Babylonian Empire by opening the way to Jerusalem.
Founded by Esau, Jacob’s brother from the Genesis account, Edom was a nation who dwelt in the mountains. This elevation gave them a good defensive position, but they were still too small to be a military threat. This was why they had existed in Israel’s shadow and why they needed Babylon’s good will.
Obadiah, however, proclaims God’s wrath against Israel’s enemies, and specifically against Edom. Likening them to eagles in their nests, still God will bring them down and make them nothing, Obadiah proclaims. Calling them Jacob’s brother, as their founder literally was, he proclaims shame for abandoning him in his need. And in verse after verse, he proclaims their immanent downfall.
It is hard for us today to read the prophets with all of the doom and gloom. We like hope, joy, and peace much more, and it takes some deep reading in the prophets to find any of these. Though they often tell of a future hope, but only of return AFTER exile, of hope AFTER pain. Yet with the balance between doom for Israel for their disobedience and doom for their enemies, the prophets do bring hope for God’s people. Sometimes, you just have to dig deeper than our usual quick reading to find it.