Lesson 151

Obadiah

“Lesson 151: Obadiah,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)


Introduction

Obadiah prophesied of the destruction of the Edomites, who were the descendants of Esau, the brother of Jacob. This destruction was a consequence of their pride and their mistreatment of Israel. Obadiah also prophesied of the restoration of Israel and of saviors on Mount Zion.

Suggestions for Teaching

Obadiah 1:1–16

Obadiah prophesies of Edom’s destruction

Write the following scenarios on the board, or provide them to students on a handout:

  1. A young man is very intelligent and talented and feels that he can succeed in life without the Lord’s help.

  2. A young woman continues to associate with a group of friends who appear to like her, despite her parents’ concern that these friends do not have her best interests in mind.

  3. A young woman feels resentful when a classmate receives an award and recognition that she hoped to get.

Divide students into pairs. Ask the pairs to read each scenario and discuss how the person’s attitude and actions could cause him or her to feel unhappy.

Invite students to look for a principle as they study Obadiah 1:1–16 that can help them avoid the attitudes and actions described in the scenarios they discussed.

Introduce the book of Obadiah by explaining that we do not know much about the prophet Obadiah except that he may have prophesied after the capture of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. (see Bible Dictionary, “Obadiah”).

Invite students to scan Obadiah 1:1, looking for the nation the Lord addressed through the prophet Obadiah. Ask students to report what they find.

Point out that the land of Edom was southeast of the kingdom of Judah and was inhabited by the descendants of Esau, the son of Isaac and twin brother of Jacob (or Israel; see Genesis 25:21–34; 36:1). The Edomites were therefore relatives of the Israelites. Despite their close kinship, however, mutual hatred existed between the Edomites and the Israelites.

Invite a student to read Obadiah 1:3–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what had deceived the Edomites.

  • According to verse 3, what had deceived the Edomites?

  • What had their pride led them to believe?

Explain that the reference to dwelling “in the clefts of the rock” (verse 3) refers to Edomite cities and dwellings that were built on mountainous land and ridges and even carved into rock cliffs. Situated high above the ground, the Edomites felt secure and safe from enemy attack.

  • According to verse 4, what did the Lord say He would do to the Edomites?

  • What can we learn from the Edomites about the danger of yielding to pride? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following principle: Yielding to pride can cause us to be deceived. Using students’ words, write this truth on the board.)

To help students understand this truth, invite a student to read aloud the scenarios discussed at the beginning of class. After each scenario is read, ask:

  • How is this an example of the ways in which pride can deceive us?

  • What are other examples of how yielding to pride can deceive and misguide us?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency. Invite students to listen for other examples of how pride can deceive us.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

“Pride is the great sin of self-elevation. …

“… It leads some to revel in their own perceived self-worth, accomplishments, talents, wealth, or position. They count these blessings as evidence of being ‘chosen,’ ‘superior,’ or ‘more righteous’ than others. …

“For others, pride turns to envy: they look bitterly at those who have better positions, more talents, or greater possessions than they do. They seek to hurt, diminish, and tear down others in a misguided and unworthy attempt at self-elevation. When those they envy stumble or suffer, they secretly cheer” (“Pride and the Priesthood,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 56).

  • How can elevating ourselves above others cause us to be deceived?

  • What can we do to avoid being deceived into putting ourselves above others?

Ask students to ponder how they may be deceived or misguided as a result of yielding to pride. Invite students to write on a piece of paper a goal that will help them overcome pride and avoid being deceived by it. Encourage students to take this paper home and put it in a place where they will see it often.

Summarize Obadiah 1:5–9 by explaining that Obadiah prophesied that Edom would be plundered and conquered. Additionally, the nations that the Edomites had allied with would betray and attack them.

Invite a student to read Obadiah 1:10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for why the Lord said Edom would be “cut off,” or destroyed. Explain that the phrase “thy brother Jacob” refers to Israel.

  • Why would Edom be cut off?

  • How do you think the phrase “thy brother Jacob” might have helped the Edomites understand how they should have treated the Israelites?

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Obadiah 1:11–14. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Edomites had treated the Jews during the destruction of Jerusalem.

  • During the destruction of Jerusalem, what had the Edomites done to the Jews and their property?

Invite a student to read Obadiah 1:15 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Lord would judge the Edomites for their cruel actions. You may want to explain that the phrase “the day of the Lord is near” refers to the judgments the Lord would send upon Edom and the word heathen refers to non-Israelites.

  • How would you explain the meaning of the phrase “as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee”?

  • What truth can we learn from verse 15 about how the Lord will judge us? (Students may use different words, but make sure it is clear that the Lord will judge us according to the way we have judged and treated others. Using students’ words, write this truth on the board.)

To help students understand this principle, invite them to turn to Alma 41:14. Invite a student to read this verse aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for how Alma taught this truth to his son Corianton.

  • How do Alma’s teachings relate to the truth on the board?

Obadiah 1:17–21

Obadiah prophesies of the Israelites’ return to their lands and of saviors on Mount Zion

If possible, display a few objects that can be used to save someone, such as a life preserver, rope, first aid kit, or fire extinguisher (or draw pictures of these items on the board).

  • Have you ever used one of these objects to help save someone?

  • Has anyone ever used one of these objects to save you?

Invite students to look for a truth as they study Obadiah 1:17–21 that describes one way they can help save others.

Invite a student to read Obadiah 1:17 aloud. Ask the class to look for what Obadiah prophesied would happen on Mount Zion. Explain that in this verse Mount Zion can refer to the city of Jerusalem and its temple.

  • What did Obadiah prophesy would happen upon Mount Zion? (Explain that this prophecy has more than one fulfillment. It was fulfilled anciently when the Jews returned to their promised lands and rebuilt Jerusalem and the temple [see Ezra 1–7]. It also points to the latter days when Israel will be gathered, Zion will be established, and temple work will bless God’s children.)

Display a picture of a temple.

  • In what ways can the temple provide deliverance for God’s children?

Summarize Obadiah 1:18–20 by explaining that Obadiah prophesied that Israel would again possess the land of their inheritance.

Invite a student to read Obadiah 1:21 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for who would come upon Mount Zion.

  • Who did Obadiah prophesy would come upon Mount Zion?

The word saviour can refer to one who saves, rescues, or delivers. Jesus Christ is the Savior because He saved and delivered us from sin and death, which we could not do for ourselves.

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith. Ask the class to listen for ways in which members of the Church can act as saviors on Mount Zion.

Prophet Joseph Smith

“But how are they to become saviors on Mount Zion? By building their temples, erecting their baptismal fonts, and going forth and receiving all the ordinances, baptisms, confirmations, washings, anointings, ordinations and sealing powers upon their heads, in behalf of all their progenitors who are dead, and redeem them that they may come forth in the first resurrection and be exalted to thrones of glory with them” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 473).

  • According to the Prophet Joseph Smith, how can we become saviors on Mount Zion? (Students should identify a principle similar to the following: We become saviors on Mount Zion as we identify our deceased family members and perform ordinances for them in the temple. You may want to suggest that students write this truth in the margin of their scriptures.)

  • How are we like the Savior when we participate in family history and temple work?

Invite students to consider their experiences involving family history and temple work. Write the following questions on the board:

  1. What are your thoughts and feelings about helping to rescue and save family members who died without the blessings or ordinances of the gospel?

  2. What blessings have you and your family received by acting as saviors in behalf of your ancestors?

Ask students to respond to one of these questions in their class notebooks or scripture study journals. After sufficient time, invite students to share their responses with someone sitting near them.

Conclude by encouraging students to act as saviors in behalf of their ancestors by doing family history and temple work.

scripture mastery iconScripture Mastery Review

Assign each student a different scripture mastery passage. Instruct each student to write on a piece of paper a real-life scenario in which the principles and truths contained in his or her assigned scripture mastery passage could be applied. (You may want to provide students with an example.) After students have finished writing, collect the scenarios. During the next week, begin or end class by reading one or more scenarios aloud and inviting students to identify a scripture mastery passage that is relevant to that scenario. Then invite students to share how the principles in that scripture mastery passage could be applied to the scenario.

Commentary and Background Information

Obadiah 1:17–21. “Upon mount Zion shall be deliverance”

Obadiah’s prophecy concerning Mount Zion has multiple meanings. The word deliverance in Obadiah 1:17 implies escape from danger and destruction. One fulfillment of this prophecy occurred when a remnant of Israel returned from captivity, rebuilt Jerusalem and the temple, and covenanted once more to serve and obey God (see Ezra 1–6; Nehemiah 10). Anciently the restoration of Israel served as a type and shadow of the great latter-day gathering of Israel and the deliverance that would come to God’s children through the restoration of the gospel, which included the ordinances and covenants of the temple.

Geographically, Mount Zion refers to the hill or mount upon which King Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem. However, the term can also refer more generally to the city of Jerusalem or to the entire land of Israel. Modern revelation also applies the term to the New Jerusalem, which will be built in America in the latter-days (see D&C 84:2; Articles of Faith 1:10), and also to the celestial kingdom of God (see D&C 76:66).

Obadiah 1:18. Edom as a symbol for the wicked world

Because of its people’s pride, wickedness, and lasting hatred for Israel, Edom (sometimes referred to in scripture by its Greek name, Idumea) became a type and symbol for the wicked world (see D&C 1:36). The allusion to the house of Esau (or Edom) becoming as stubble with none remaining may symbolically refer to the destruction of the wicked when the Savior comes again (see D&C 64:23–25).

Obadiah 1:21. How can we be saviors on Mount Zion?

President Gordon B. Hinckley explained:

“Just as our Redeemer gave His life as a vicarious sacrifice for all men, and in so doing became our Savior, even so we, in a small measure, when we engage in proxy work in the temple, become as saviors to those on the other side who have no means of advancing unless something is done in their behalf by those on earth” (“Closing Remarks,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2004, 105).

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:

“Temple work enables us to do for others what they cannot do for themselves. It is a labor of love that permits our forefathers to continue their progress toward eternal life” (“Seeking the Good,” Ensign, May 1992, 88).