(this transcript has been lightly edited for readability)
Well, Obadiah is an oracle against Edom. Now, you probably don't know what an oracle is, so an oracle is a message passed down by one of authority. And Edom was a neighboring nation, hostile toward Judah. The Edomites were the descendants of Esau, and that sort of brings the whole history of the Old Testament into focus. And so, because of that, I would entitle Obadiah, “Salvation is from the Lord.”
You would read through this set of charges against Edom, and you would say to yourself, “Okay, Paul, your model that the Gospel is in every one of these Prophets has just been busted because it doesn’t seem there's anything you can ever find of the gospel here in Obadiah. But it is there, and it goes right back to the fact that in every way you would mean these words, “Salvation is from the Lord.” It is God who chose to place His grace on Jacob and not Esau. And it's God who now is extending His favor to Judah and not Edom. And where's the hope in that?
The hope is this, if God did not first choose me, I would never choose Him. It takes grace to desire grace; and unless God meets me in His grace, I would never ever desire His grace. There are four ways that Obadiah demonstrates that salvation is from Lord.
Here’s the first. It's the Lord who chooses. The remarkable message of the Old Testament is God will set His mercy on whom He will set His mercy. You could not argue, in any way shape or form if you're ever faithful to the history the Old Testament, that Israel deserved God's mercy. If you watch these people rebel again and again and again, do exactly what God has asked them not to do, you would have to conclude, “These people do not deserve God's mercy. God chooses whom He will place His mercy on.”
Second, the Lord is the final judge. Judgment is in the hands of the Lord, and that immediately drives us to the cross because, at the cross, God's judgment and God's mercy kiss. Judgment is meted out on Christ as a penalty for sin so that mercy would be delivered to those whom God has chosen.
Third, the Lord defends. God will defend the people on whom He has set His mercy. He defends, He protects, He delivers. He fights battles for His people even when His people don't have the sense enough to fight those battles themselves.
And then finally, the Lord blesses. The Lord placed His blessing on Abraham. That blessing was extended to Jacob. That blessing was then extended to Judah. You can see the passing down of the blessing of the Lord. And we know out of Judah came Jesus Christ; and we know that in Galatians, it says that those who are in Christ are now the heirs of the promises made to Abraham.
Like other prophets, Obadiah is a finger-pointing down the years from Abraham to Jesus, to you and me, the unshakable chain of the blessings of God. He will not forsake those upon whom He has placed His favor, and He will continue to promote His redemptive plan till that plan is complete. When you read Obadiah, you should hear echoing in the background the words of Christ, “It is finished!” God will complete His plan. He will do what's necessary. He will bless His people.