Archive for April 8th, 2017
Eugene Petersen, translator of the Message Bible, says “It takes the entire Bible to read any part of the Bible” and he is absolutely right. The Bible is the story of God’s relationship with his people and Obadiah had a part to play in that story.
The differences between Israel and Edom go back a long way. In fact you have to read the story of Jacob and Esau to get the full picture (see Genesis 25-26). The quarrelling twins had fathered 2 different nations who had forever been at war and we see those differences manifesting themselves once again today.
The point of the prophecy was to say to the Edomites, the descendants of Esau, that their behaviour towards Israel was contemptible in the eyes of God and that they were to suffer a terrible punishment as a result. In effect Israel had faced a time of need when they were attacked by another nation and the Edomites had stood by, watched without assisting and then pillaged and plundered what was left over.
We have a proverb that says, “Never kick a man when he’s down,” and that’s what Edom stood accused of. Except that in the eyes of God they were worse. These two nations had been born of the same parents, their forefathers had shared a womb and generations later they could still not settle their differences. Now Edom was to pay for her failings.
At a guess I imagine all of us can think of family feuds that have gone on longer than they should. Even if you are part of a family that’s managed to avoid such things you only have to look at the daily news broadcasts to see that nothing in the world has really changed very much. Some people will write such things off as “just human nature” but as Christians we have to recognise the hand of our old enemy Satan who takes great delight in picking away at inter-personal, inter-familial and international differences to open up wounds and create division. While God loves to create he exists to destroy, he is the very antithesis of all that God is.
What God loves is justice and mercy Satan loves discord and destruction. The last line of Obadiah’s prophesy says, “And the Kingdom will be the Lord’s” (see v.21b). His rules, his blessing, his grace, his mercy and his favour. The negative reflection of that image is total destruction for Edom. A stark reminder of the differences between heaven and hell. I know where I would really like to be.
Heavenly Father, help me to be more like you, exercising grace and mercy towards those around me. Help me to be a blessing to others. Amen.