Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 7 December 19:
Note: His is a short video overview of Obadiah: https://youtu.be/i4ogCrEoG5s
Obadiah 1:3, 10-13, 15 — The pride of your heart has deceived you…. Because of the violence done to your brother… shame shall cover you…. On the day that you stood aloof, on the day that strangers carried off his wealth… you were like one of them. But do not gloat over the day of your brother in the day of his misfortune…. Do not enter the gate of my people in the day of their calamity…. For the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations. As you have done, it shall be done to you; your deeds shall return on your own head.
When was the last time you heard a sermon preached from Obadiah? When was the last time you heard the book referenced at all? Obadiah is the shortest book in the Old Testament, but it is full of valuable truths and lessons very applicable to us today, specifically concerning how we honor or dishonor God by how we treat others, and God’s judgment upon those who dishonor God by mistreating others.
Obadiah deals with God’s judgment upon the Edomites for pridefully mistreating the Israelites during their time of distress when they were conquered by Babylon. The bad blood between the Edomites and the Israelites began with their respective patriarchs, the brothers Edom and Israel (Jacob), and continued through the generations. (See Genesis 25-27) Though these nations had a familial connection, having both descended from Abraham and Isaac, they despised one another and were in constant conflict. (see Exodus 15:15; Numbers 20:14-20; 1 Samuel 14:47; 2 Samuel 8:14; 1 Kings 11:15; and 2 Kings 8:20-22) When Babylon conquered Israel, Edom took advantage of the situation and plundered Israelite cities while abusing and murdering many Israelite refugees. (see also Psalm 137:7; Ezekiel 35; Amos 1:6-9) God’s pronounces judgment upon Edom – “You shall be cut off forever.” However, through Obadiah, God extends His pronouncement of Judgment to all nations and peoples – “For the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations. As you have done, it shall be done to you; your deeds shall return on your own head.” (Obadiah 1:15)
Consider the parallel between Obadiah 1:15 and The Lord’s Prayer – “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12) God expects us to treat others the way we want God to treat us, with unconditional love, grace and mercy. Fully dependent on God’s unmerited grace paid for by the blood of Christ, we are not in a position to respond to others with anything other than grace. Today’s readings explain that a lack of grace on our part is merely sinful pride – “The pride of your heart has deceived you….”
“We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) “For the love of Christ controls us….” (2 Corinthians 5:14) “…the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge….” (Ephesians 3:19) The motivation for the unmerited grace and love we give to others is the unmerited grace and love we have received through Christ, and as His love defies human reason, so should ours as we glorify Him in how we treat others. Jesus said, “I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful…. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:27-38)
God expects radical and proactive love from us, particularly towards the unloving who need Christ in their lives. God condemned the Edomites because when their difficult neighbor stood in need, they “stood aloof” and even gloated. Though we should fight for justice, if in our hearts we want sinners to “get what they deserve,” we have a heart problem. If we are standing aloof, failing to proclaim the Gospel to those who need to hear it, regardless how they treat us, we have a heart problem. Does Obadiah speak to you today?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 7 December 19: Love your enemies today and proclaim the Gospel.