Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

As I'm still recovering from wading through 48, somewhat intense, chapters of The Book Of Ezekiel, it was somewhat refreshing to breeze through The Book Of Obadiah today... all one chapter of it.

I guess I was half-expecting it to be more of the same – lots more appeals for repentance or God'll have to teach you the much harder way – but this time it came with a really strong call for common sense and level-headedness.

I'm not suggesting that the other prophets' books don't come with that, but here the warning is specifically for the nation of Edom.

First up, if I've understood this correctly, the people of Jerusalem didn't heed God's appeals to them to repent, so God sent them the disaster he had promised – an invasion.

However, God's intention in allowing / making another nation invade was not so much to 'punish' Jerusalem, as to teach them. God is after all big on emphasizing that he's everyone's father, and therefore of course he wishes to turn people away from their wrongs and teach them.

The Edomites, as observers, saw how sinful Jerusalem had become in God's eyes, and took the moral high ground. They decided that they must be better.

Because of the violence against your brother Jacob,
you will be covered with shame;
you will be destroyed forever.

On the day you stood aloof
while strangers carried off his wealth
and foreigners entered his gates
and cast lots for Jerusalem,
you were like one of them.

You should not look down on your brother
in the day of his misfortune,
nor rejoice over the people of Judah
in the day of their destruction,
nor boast so much
in the day of their trouble.

You should not march through the gates of my people
in the day of their disaster,
nor look down on them in their calamity
in the day of their disaster,
nor seize their wealth
in the day of their disaster.

You should not wait at the crossroads
to cut down their fugitives,
nor hand over their survivors
in the day of their trouble.

"The day of the LORD is near
for all nations.
As you have done, it will be done to you;
your deeds will return upon your own head.

- Obadiah 10-15 (NIV)

This sort of religious arrogance reminds me of one or two 'Christians' I've known, and also of the sort of "told you so" soundbites that emerged after the World Trade Centre attack.

Certainly I wish that people could see how instantaneously even a tiny little bit of authority can transform them. You only have to turn on the news to witness yet another reporter losing that battle. Or, some might argue, you only have to read the paragraph I've just typed...

Hmmm, I think the book is there to remind me to look at myself, and check where I'm not judging people with the appropriate humility.


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