November 19, 2016

Holy Prophet Obadiah

Holy Prophet Obadiah (Feast Day - November 19)


Once Obadiah made known the future,
Swiftly bringing shame.
On the nineteenth the life of Obadiah passed beyond.

The name Obadiah (Abdias) means "servant of God." He was from the valley of Betharam in the region of Shechem, and lived about eight hundred years before Christ. He first served under King Ahab of Samaria, then under King Ahaziah. In those days the whole of Israel had turned away from the true God and had begun to offer sacrifice to Baal, but Obadiah faithfully served the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in secret.

In 1 Kings 18 we read that Obadiah was a palace administrator under Ahab, and "was a devout believer in the Lord. While Jezebel was killing off the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water."

When there was a severe famine in the land of Samaria, Ahab had said to Obadiah, "Go through the land to all the springs and valleys. Maybe we can find some grass to keep the horses and mules alive so we will not have to kill any of our animals." So they divided the land they were to cover, Ahab going in one direction and Obadiah in another. As Obadiah was walking along, Elijah met him. Obadiah recognized him, bowed down to the ground, and said, “Is it really you, my lord Elijah?”

“Yes,” he replied. “Go tell your master, ‘Elijah is here.’”

“What have I done wrong,” asked Obadiah, “that you are handing your servant over to Ahab to be put to death? As surely as the Lord your God lives, there is not a nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to look for you. And whenever a nation or kingdom claimed you were not there, he made them swear they could not find you. But now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ I don’t know where the Spirit of the Lord may carry you when I leave you. If I go and tell Ahab and he doesn’t find you, he will kill me. Yet I your servant have worshiped the Lord since my youth. Haven’t you heard, my lord, what I did while Jezebel was killing the prophets of the Lord? I hid a hundred of the Lord’s prophets in two caves, fifty in each, and supplied them with food and water. And now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ He will kill me!”

Elijah said, “As the Lord Almighty lives, whom I serve, I will surely present myself to Ahab today.”

It was then that Elijah faced off against the prophets of Baal and proved to the people of Israel the power of God over all other false gods.

Ahab’s successor King Ahaziah sent three detachments of soldiers to arrest the glorious and great Prophet Elijah. Obadiah was the captain of one of these detachments of fifty men. After the first two detachments were consumed by fire sent from heaven through the prayers of Elijah, the third detachment of Obadiah was sent. Then we read in 2 Kings 1:

"So the king sent a third captain with his fifty men. This third captain went up and fell on his knees before Elijah. 'Man of God,' he begged, 'please have respect for my life and the lives of these fifty men, your servants! See, fire has fallen from heaven and consumed the first two captains and all their men. But now have respect for my life!' The angel of the Lord said to Elijah, 'Go down with him; do not be afraid of him.' So Elijah got up and went down with him to the king."

After this Obadiah became a disciple of Elijah, and endured many evil things from Ahaziah, because he forsook him and went after Elijah. After he followed Elijah, he was deemed worthy of prophecy. He went on to write the shortest book of the Old testament which bears his name, and is numbered among the so-called Twelve Minor Prophets. Obadiah reposed in peace. According to an old tradition, Obadiah is buried in Sebastea, at the same site as Elisha and where later the body of John the Baptist was believed to have been buried by his followers.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
According to thy name thou wast a servant of God the Word. Found worthy of the Light that surpasses understanding, thou didst receive the illumination of prophecy. For thou didst discern the immaterial Glory and become an instrument sounded by God, O Prophet Obadiah, and foretell things to come.

Kontakion in Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Thou didst offer thy life as acceptable first-fruits to the Triune God, Obadiah; and having received the beauty of inspiration thou didst reveal things to come, and so didst cry: Alleluia.