Recently, after publishing a poll, the general consensus from votes cast was that II Chronicles or Leviticus were perhaps the two least read books of the Bible.
However, though one may find those books hard to navigate, they are hardly the least read. So what is the least read book? Obadiah.
Coming in at one chapter with twenty-one verses, Obadiah is considered by statistics and surveys to be the least read book in the Bible. In fact, if one were to deviate now to Amazon and begin to search for commentaries on the book of Obadiah, one would be startled to find that only 109 books show up on the search, many of them duplicates of aforementioned commentaries, or simply just Old Testament surveys that dedicate about a page to highlighting what the book may be about.
Quickly, off the top of your head, without going to the book of Obadiah…ask yourself, “What is the book all about?” If you can immediately summon up an answer and could share this knowledge, you are in the smallest of percentiles among Bible readers. So, why is the book of Obadiah so neglected?
Well, the obvious answer may be as simple as it is wedged between Amos and Jonah and is simply missed or skipped in order to get from the nine chapters of Amos to the four chapters of the story of Jonah. However, when is the last time you specifically remember choosing to read Amos? Exactly! Obadiah just so happens to not only be the fourth-shortest book in the Bible, but it is placed in the least read section of the Bible; the Minor Prophets.
Our go to when it comes to Biblical reading is most often found in the books that provide insight to our present lives. We like to read the books that resonate with us. We read Proverbs because of the incredible wisdom imparted in its pages. We love to read Ecclesiastes because something resonates in our spirit with the vexation and vanity of life. We love to read the book of Job because it resonates with suffering, pain, and sorrow and the hope of holding on.
However, when one turns to the pages of Obadiah we are immediately introduced to these words:
The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord God concerning Edom;
We have heard a rumour from the Lord,
and an ambassador is sent among the heathen,
Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle.
Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen:
thou art greatly despised.
The vision of Obadiah. Wait, who is Obadiah? Exactly! Quickly, do a Bible search and you come up with the Obadiah that fits into the story of Ahab and Elijah (I Kings 18:7-15). However, as one reads through the book of Obadiah one begins to realize that it is highly unlikely that this is the same Obadiah. In fact, further study reveals that the name Obadiah was a common Hebrew name due to its meaning; the servant of God.
Thus, if one were to be open-minded, the books name may have simply embraced what is called a “theophoric name,” in which the name of God is embedded into a proper or personal name, in this case meaning “the servant (or worshipper) of God”. So, without spending any extra time attempting to ascertain the authorship of the book, what is the book about?
Answer: “Thus saith the Lord God concerning Edom.”
Perhaps this is another reason the book finds few attentive readers! It is a book that is solely dedicated to the story of two nations, Israel and Edom. If I were to give you a cliff-notes version of the book of Obadiah it would look something like this: God is going to destroy Edom and raise up Israel.
There you have it! Twenty-one verses summed up in one line! So what then is the big deal with the book of Obadiah? Why dedicate an entire book to this unfortunate drama that seeks to record the obliteration of a nation called Edom and the elevation of the nation of Israel? Seriously, Jeremiah covers most of this information and then some!
Well, take a closer look at the story…we will come back and visit this in greater detail. As you read the book again I challenge you to take notes. What stands out to you? What grabs your attention. I’m looking for interaction on this. Let’s explore this neglected book together. Leave your thoughts in the comments section of this post; I look forward to reading them and learning from them. Share this with others…ask them…excite them to uncover the depths and riches of God’s word, and specifically, the book of Obadiah with me!