Week 39 Feuding Neighbors and the Wrath of God

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)

Week 39

Scripture Reading: Obadiah

Key Scripture Verses: Obadiah 1:3-4 (NIV, Life Application Bible; Commentary also consulted: “Believer’s Bible Commentary,” by William MacDonald, 1995):

“The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, ‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’

‘Though you soar like the eagle and make your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,’ declares the Lord.”

Obadiah is a story of neighbors feuding with each other, a “Hatfields and McCoys” story of the Old Testament. It had its roots in Genesis with the story of Esau and Jacob. Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of lentil stew and then later regretted it, wanting to kill Jacob whom Isaac had blessed instead (Genesis 27). The Edomites who were descendants of Esau equally despised their Israelite neighbors and became their arch enemies.

The Edomites, haughty, confident, and self-sufficient, delighted in the misfortunes of their Israelite neighbors. Not only did they enjoy seeing Israel suffer and did nothing to help God’s people when they were in need, they were actively hateful and cruel to them, joining forces to attack them. The Edomites sneered at God’s people and mocked God himself.

The message of Obadiah prophesied that God would bring down his wrath upon anyone who harmed his people. That prophecy became a reality for the people of Edom who no longer existed by the end of the first century A.D. Their security didn’t last. Their pride led to their self-destruction. Their evil destroyed them.

In Modern times we see people who act like the Edomites all the time. Some people who become powerful or wealthy believe too much in themselves and their own power that they don’t see their need for God. And as the Edomites did, they mock God. They delight in the pain and suffering of others, they seek revenge, they seek to oppress those less fortunate. God is paying attention, though.

These scriptures are a warning that God will have the last word. Jesus said we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. He said to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

The time will come when we will answer for our actions. All of us are sinners. But, by his grace, we have a loving, compassionate God who is also forgiving of even the worst of sins.

Jesus asks us to confess our sins, to stop, reflect on our behavior, to treat others with love and compassion, to help one another, to love one another, to forgive those who wrong us. He asks us to love each other as he loves us.

Isn’t that a better way?

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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