Focal Passage: Obadiah 1:1-4, 10-17
Obadiah is a tiny book dedicated to the judgment of the Edomites. As such it does not begin or end on a positive note for Edom. The book is an opportunity to see both a warning for destruction and a lesson on guarding your heart “lest you too shall fall.”
We all have a tendency to think a lot of ourselves. Even self-pity invites others to look at us or consider our situation. Pride can take the form of either bringing the spotlight to oneself or wishing the spotlight was on us. In the opening verses of Obadiah God is declaring He has called the surrounding nations to go to war with Edom. Edomites are presumptuous and they will pay dearly for their attitude. Even worse, the Lord is going to humble them.
The lesson is clear for anyone reading the declaration of the Lord. Humble yourself and do not be like the Edomites. The Lord has set His face against them because of their pride. The remedy for escaping destruction is to practice the commands of God. A redeemed heart is continually moving away from selfishness and towards love for neighbor. The law of God is summed up with practicing love for others to the degree that you already love yourself.
The behavior of the Edomites has been despicable against Judah. As Jacob is struggling, Edom is gloating. Their lack of empathy is adding to their demise.
In any family, organization, or nation, the one who thinks they are in charge often picks a fight. People push others around when they perceive they have the upper hand. Being a bully is adding to their delusion of “being in charge” in a show of superiority. However, God is in charge and we should not forget it. The people of God have always been called to have compassion on the sojourner, foreigner, or those “out of place.” As believers we have no choice but to move towards mercy, missions, and evangelism for those in our midst. It means we use whatever influence we have for as long as we have it in service to others instead of service for ourselves. We are to learn the lesson the Edomites did not; “by the measure you use, it will be measured and added to you.”
The day of the Lord is coming. It is more certain and true than the sun rising tomorrow. We often choose to not live our lives in light of eternity, to our own folly. Edom was foolish to think they would get away with all the mayhem and destruction. The day of reckoning is coming and when it does according to verse 15, “what you deserve will return on your own head.” But for those who are the true Zion, all those called into the fold of God, there is deliverance. There is the hope of the Good News that propels the people of God to live out their lives in care and compassion for the lost. If it were not for the call of God on our lives quickening our spirit to turn to Him we would be just as disoriented.
Jesus said, “Judge not, lest you be judged.” He was speaking about our disposition towards outsiders, not the purity of the church. Jesus fulfilled the law calling the true Israel to conduct themselves in godliness. Kingdom mind-set demands compassion because we know what is coming to the disobedient. We weep, show pity, and call until our dying breath for all to come to faith. I Timothy 4 tells us, “for by doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
— Moore is pastor to adults at First Baptist Church, Clarksville.