Fast 5: Oh, Bad Obadiah…


Confession Time: I often loathe reading my Bible. (I’ll wait for my Christian friends to gasp in horror from that little statement.) It’s not that I don’t want to hear what the good Lord wants to say to me through His word; it’s just that a good portion of the Old Testament is an odd collection of writings about times I have difficulty relating to modern life. In the words of Beth Moore, “It’s not always about you!” and I agree. Sometimes I just need to study those ancient writings and wait for the Lord to tell me its relevance.

If you also sometimes struggle to to read your Bible often or you have decided it’s a total waste of your time, may I suggest some of the following tips to help with that? Here they are:

1. Find a translation that works for you. I’m currently partial to the Message (or the Bible According to Eugene, as I like to call it–Eugene Peterson is the author of this paraphrase.) because it puts difficult passages into everyday English.However, I am the first to say that since the Message is a paraphrase, it should not be the only version a person reads. A close second is the NIV (New International Version). This version was popular in the 1990’s and because I studied it profusely then, it just seems familiar and easily readable. And I’m becoming a recent convert to the English Standard Version, thanks to Beth Moore’s use of it in Children of the Day and Kindle making that version free! Again, it’s easily readable, but true to the original texts. I have a friend who prefers the New King James Version because of its poetic cadence and word usage. That wouldn’t work for me, but it works for her and that’s the important thing!

2. Read the passage out loud. Read it like you are having a conversation with a friend. (It is God speaking to you, after all!). Don’t read it like some minister or priest on Sunday morning–read it like you would if it were part of a conversation with a good friend at Starbucks. Put the emphasis on different words than you would normally. When I do this, the passage often “comes alive” and I realize it’s not nearly as “stuffy” as I originally thought.

3. Do a Google search on the passage. It will surprise you what you can learn. Just don’t trust every source you read there as totally accurate and without bias. To protect against this, read several articles and posts before you conclude that a particular fact really is true.

4. As you read, underline phrases that intrigue you or resonate with you. Yes, scribble in your Bible! If you can’t stomach scribbling in your Bible, print off the passage from some online version and put it in a 3 ring binder and scribble all over that. I have notes I’ve written beside some of the passages I have underlined and they are often good reminders of what I should be doing as a Christian. Again, this helps bring those words to life.

5. If you have access to Bible commentaries, dictionaries, concordances and other “theological resources,” read the applicable passages there, as well. Again, these often add great historical context to stuff that might seem really mundane and boring.

Why am I discussing this? Because our first book in the Fast 5 Study is Obadiah. And Obadiah is in my self-proclaimed boring Old Testament. Since Obadiah is about the impending doom for Edom, it may seem irrelevant to 21st century Americans. But, by employing the tips above, it’s anything but. Here’s what I’m learning and what is resonating with this  American:

1. There are 10 Obadiahs mentioned in the Old Testament outside of this book. It was a very common name then. Thus, it takes a little research to figure out exactly who authored this Book.

2. Obadiah is the shortest book of the Bible–it’s a mere 21 verse document. Thus, it begs the question: Why include it in with the other 65 longer books of the Bible, particularly since its contents recount and predict events that are described in other parts of the Old Testament?

3. Edom, the country created by the descendants of Esau (Yes, of Jacob and Esau fame) did fall as predicted in this book. Many believe the ruins of Petra are indications of this fall.

4. The book is remarkably similar to Jeremiah 49 and scholars believe that Obadiah would have been a contemporary of Jeremiah, Malachi, Ezra and Nehemiah.

5. The central theme of the book seems to be that, when you get too big for your “britches,” God is not happy. And thus, you won’t be happy for long. Gloating is a big no-no in God’s Kingdom.

And that last statement may be why God directed me to this book. I think a chronic struggle with low self-esteem often causes me to seek out approval and recognition from others. On the rare occasions when I receive that approval/recognition, it’s oh, so easy for me to get a swelled head. In fact I might even relish the demise of my critics, somewhat like the reaction of Edom’s citizens to the fall of its “Jacob” neighbor, the Israelites. And that nonsense does not serve God’s purpose for me at all. In fact it creates a very large obstacle.

If you think this is all I know about Obadiah, you would be wrong–it’s the tip of the “iceberg” and thus, I encourage you to do your own studying and find the relevance of a short, ancient book for yourself. It might just blow your mind and if it’s been a little too large lately, like my mind, that may just be what the doctor ordered. 🙂

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 at 10:50 am and is filed under God stuff. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.


  1. October 29th, 2014 | Chelsea says:

    Well, I am not sure if I had ever read Obadiah… oops! Thank you for the Bible reading tips. I am primarily an NIV reader and sometimes I go crazy trying to make sense of something when I should just read a different version.

  2. October 30th, 2014 | maryann says:

    I know I’ve read the entire Bible once, but I sure don’t remember anything about Obadiah, so you’re not alone, Chelsea! Glad the tips helped.

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