By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)
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?