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Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.
We really know very little about Obadiah - The O.T. contains 12 instances of the name Obadiah. It seems than none were the author of this book It's not clear if Obadiah is actually his name. It means "servant (or worshipper) of Yahweh. It could be a description, rather than his name. We also can't be sure when the book was written. As early as 850 b.c. or as late as 312 b.c. Depending on whether the ransacking of Jerusalem was the revolt of the Philistines, Arabs, and Edomites against king Jehoram or if Obadiah was describing the Babylonian conquest. Edom was the nation founded by Esau. What do we know about Esau? The birth of Jacob and Esau (Gen 25:21-26) 21 Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, "Why is this happening to me?" So she went to inquire of the LORD. 23 The LORD said to her, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger." Esau sells his birthright - Jacob steals Esau's blessing (Gen 25:27-34; Gen. 27) 38 Esau said to his father, "Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!" Then Esau wept aloud. 39 His father Isaac answered him, "Your dwelling will be away from the earth's richness, away from the dew of heaven above. 40 You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother. But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck." In the Exodus, Edom refused Israel passage through their land - Num 20:14-21 So the sibling rivalry between Jacob and Esau continued for many generations. Think of how Esau's descendants must have seen the situation: Ok, so Jacob finagled the family birthright and Isaac’s blessing from Esau, but where are the Jacobites now?
Last we heard they were refugees of the great drought, stuck in Egypt. Surely they’ve been assimilated into the Egyptian culture - never to be heard from again. Good riddance! Then, generations later, a rag-tag band of escaped slaves shows up out of Egypt and begs for free passage through the land of Edom to wherever they thought they were going. Yeah, right. Lots of luck! And then what do you know... little brother became a nation too! Israel grew and eventually eclipsed Edom in wealth and power until finally, David conquered Edom and made it part of his kingdom. Edom's rivalry and jealousy continued. She wasn't powerful enough to conquer Judah, but Edom certainly was able to cheer on those who could.
I. Edom's Coming Judgment (1-9)
A. The Prideful Edom Will Be Brought Down
How do we view pride? Do we see it like God see's it? After all we live in "land of the Pilgrim's pride" where we sing I'm "proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free." I'm proud of the kids I raised. I take pride in my work. I'm proud of my well-manicured lawn (well, that's not me but the rest is true) What's so bad about pride? 1 : the quality or state of being proud: as a : inordinate self-esteem : conceit b : a reasonable or justifiable selfrespect c : delight or elation arising from some act, possession, or relationship <parental pride> 2 : proud or disdainful behavior or treatment : disdain 3 a : ostentatious display Most people today don't think that pride is all that bad. Certainly not bad enough to destroy a nation over. Murder -really bad... stealing - kinda bad... lying - still bad... pride - ehh nothing to get up in arms about. If I said to you "So & So" is a good man but he cheats on his wife, sometimes - you might think 'he doesn't sound so great to me. But, I dare say that no one would bat an eye at "He's a good guy but proud." We don't see pride the way God does. What's so bad about pride? It was enough to turn a perfect angel of God into a rebellious demon. It was enough to empty the garden of Eden. I Am Independent I Am In Control I Am Superior "The pride of your heart has deceived you" And that's the deception, the lie that they've bought into. They're deceived that they truly are not dependent on God. They're deceived into believing that they are in control of their future. They're deceived that they are superior to the other nations around them. 1. Security (v.3) 2. Wealth (6) 3. Allies (7) 4. Wisdom (8) 5. Military (9)
B. Destruction Will Be Complete (5-6)
So what does God think about pride? He resolves to smash it! He wants to completely and utterly destroy it. If you're a prideful nation or a prideful person, you're in a precarious position. When God decides to deal with pride, he doesn't mess around. 1. Worse Than a Thief 2. Worse Than a Harvester
II. Edom's Crimes Against Judah (10-14)
Pride rarely stands alone. What do I mean by that? A prideful person will act out of his pride. If he elevates himself in his own mind, it will certainly come out in the way he treats others. It causes him to think that he deserves more and other folks deserve less. Edom's sin didn't stop at their proud attitude. The sibling rivalry with Jacob becomes serious when Judah is attacked. What does Edom do? Have you ever heard something like: "Those brothers fight like cats and dogs, but if one of them is in trouble, the other will be the first to jump in to protect his brother" Surely, when it comes down to it, Esau will come to Jacob's aid, right? No, Edom is thrilled to see Judah's situation.
A. The charge against Edom (10-11)
Several commentaries that I checked out, speaking of Edom's sins in general, used the term "unbrotherliness" (is that a real word?) It does describe the situation well. Measuring Edom's sins is all about how drastically they failed the test of brotherly love. 1. Violence Against Their Brother Overall, this is the charge. Not that all of Edom's actions were overtly violent. In fact, most were not. They refused to help, they gloated, they took advantage, they helped themselves to their brother's stuff. But, sometimes failing to do the right thing is equal to actively doing the wrong thing. I think that the old 60's radical slogan is sometimes true. "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." 2. Aloofness Toward Their Brother Again, unbrotherliness. God says "you were like one of them." Maybe all you did was to smile a little inside at someone else's misfortune. Maybe you just found a way to benefit from their problems. But, according to God, you were as guilty as if you were right there.
B. The explanation of the charges. (12-14)
So, 10-11 give us the general charges against Edom, now we get the specifics. 1. Gloating Over a Brother's Misfortune (12) We've never done that, have we? We've never felt good because someone we dislike has some bad luck. We've never felt superior because we've avoided the misfortune that someone else has fallen into. "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." Rom. 12:15
2. Taking Advantage of a Brother's Misfortune (13) I doubt any of us have marched into someone's house and taken his stuff while he's facing a disaster. But, we're not always above trying to benefit from someone's misfortune. Maybe it's maneuvering to get a promotion over someone who is struggling at work. Maybe it's trying to get a bargain, knowing that someone has to sell out of distress. 3. Prevented Their Brother's Escape (14) Notice how Edom has progressed through their "unbrotherliness" First, they really didn't do anything... just felt and thought wrong. Next, they got a little more bold and helped themselves to Judah's stuff. But, finally, they become active in their brother's distress. They see that some Jews were escaping their captors. What did they do? They certainly didn't help their brothers escape. They went beyond gloating and taking advantage - they actually joined in the fight against their brothers! They captured the fleeing Jews! I'm reminded of the Nazi persecution during WWII. There were Christians, like the TenBooms that helped their Jewish brothers and sisters escape death. But, there were many instances of those who claimed to be Christians turning in Jews to their Nazi persecutors. To be fair, these people were acting under threat of death. Not so, for the Edomites. There's no mention of any motive other than their pride and hatred for their brother.
III. The Ultimate Outcome (15-21)
So, what's the final outcome here? Does Edom get away with it's sin? In the bigger picture, what about other prideful nations who seek the advantage over others?
A. The Day Of The Lord (15-16)
Isaiah 63 makes it plain that Edom has a particular role in the Day of The Lord. It appears that Edom will be where judgment begins (or ends). 1 Who is this coming from Edom, from Bozrah, with his garments stained crimson? Who is this, robed in splendor, striding forward in the greatness of his strength? "It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save." 2 Why are your garments red, like those of one treading the winepress? 3 "I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing. 4 For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redemption has come. 5 I looked, but there was no one to help, I was appalled that no one gave support;
so my own arm worked salvation for me, and my own wrath sustained me. 6 I trampled the nations in my anger; in my wrath I made them drunk and poured their blood on the ground."
1. A Day of Reckoning for ALL Nations This isn't JUST about Edom. It's not JUST about nations who mistreat the Jews. It's a "Day of Reckoning for ALL Nations" We probably are more inclined to think of 'Judgment Day' in a personal/individual sense, but there's also a national element. All nations will be judged... including this one. Exactly how that works out in the scheme of things, I'm not sure. And for this study, it doesn't matter. Suffice it to say that the nations will be judged. 2. "As You Sow, So Shall You Reap" So, what's the basis for judging? Obadiah says: "As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head." That's kind of a scary thought - to be treated the way we've treated others. Definitely not good news for Edom, but I'm not sure that many nations could stand up to it. There are plenty of examples where the U.S. has stood up for what's right, but there are also examples of our poor treatment of some. America (or virtually any nation) has an ugly side to be exposed.
B. Judgment and Obliteration (18-20)
Edom will be like dry stubble to Israel's fire. Nothing will be left. There will be no survivors. Edom ceased to be a nation many centuries ago, but this passage makes it obvious that Edom still awaits a future judgment. The question is just WHO will be judged? I'm just throwing this out there. Take it for what it's worth, but a few websites out there seem to equate Edom with the modern day Palestinians. Honestly, when I read about Edom gloating over Israel's troubles, the image came to my mind of Palestinians dancing in the streets when Saddam was lobbing Scud missiles at Israel during the first Gulf War. If not direct descendants of Edom, that surely epitomizes the 'spirit of Edom.
C. Deliverance and Exaltation
It defies reason to think about how many times Israel has dispersed from their land and have always survived to return. The time in Egypt, The Assyrian/Babylonian captivity. The great Diaspora of the Roman period that lasted almost 1900 years. Yet, God has always brought Israel back to their land. There will be deliverance on Mt. Zion. Jacob will govern Edom from Mt. Zion. Edom thought they saw the last of Judah. They thought that Israel would only be a memory of history. But, as it turns out that Edom is but a faint memory. Whereas Israel will always be the focal point of history.
III. So What? - Lessons From Obadiah
1. God Rules History
Remember those old westerns with the run away stagecoach? The horses get spooked and take off running out of control. The passengers are holding on for dear life, just hoping that the thing doesn't roll over or fall down a cliff. Sometimes life seems like that. It seems that this world is out of control and is about to fly over the cliff. But God is in compete control. His hands are on the reins. He raises up nations and brings them down. He is in charge of justice and even when it seems like the bad guys are winning, their fate is sure.
2. Pride is Deceptive
"The pride of your heart has deceived you." Pride makes us think we are independent, self-sufficient, invulnerable. Pride is based on a lie. When I give in to pride, every area of my life is distorted. I see myself much larger than I am, others seem much smaller, and God seems much farther.
3. God Hates Pride and WILL Bring it Down
Though you soar like the eagle and make your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down," declares the LORD. No One gets away with pride... No one.
4. Proud People and Nations Will Reap What They Sow.
If you insist on living on your own terms - without God, so be it
5. God has Made a Way of Escape from His Wrath
But on Mount Zion will be deliverance.
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