Monday, April 21, 2008

Obadiah: A Prophecy Relevant for Today

Scholars and theologians do not agree on which Obadiah penned the prophecy recorded in the book of Obadiah; however, the significance is that the historical markers in the account provide evidence that the prophet lived and represented God during time periods that are detailed in other historical accounts. While we do not know which Obadiah wrote the prophecy we know that it came from God and that this is an accurate account.

The meaning of Obadiah is Servant of Yahweh or Worshipper of Yahweh. Obadiah was able to speak for God because he was submitted to God. It is required of those speaking for God to be servants or worshippers of God first. One with a true understanding of who God is will worship and serve Him willingly and consistently. Moreover, the one with a true revelation of who God is will seek to bring others into the same revelation that they may have relationship with God as well.

It behooves us to know and understand the biblical mandate of leaders when we assess leaders in our lives. Today, people too easily and quickly choose leaders based on feelings, popularity, attractiveness, speaking or singing ability…we should discern the person’s dedication to worship and serve God. When we seek pleasure and entertainment from our spiritual leaders we become dull and unable or unwilling to receive spiritual correction, prophecy, and warning that is necessary for our spiritual growth and maturity. Unfortunately, people forget that false prophets will be punished but so will those who follow false prophets.

Obadiah 1:1 We have heard a message from the Lord that an ambassador was sent to the nations to say, "Get ready, everyone! Let's assemble our armies and attack Edom!"
Obadiah’s prophecy does not deal with Israel or Judah. Edom or the Edomites are the descendents of Esau. Israel, formerly known as Jacob and Esau are brothers. Esau traded his birthright or blessing for stew, he let go of his spiritual blessing to meet a fleshly need.

Note: When Israel came out of Egypt and wanted to pass through the land of the Edomites to enter into the Promised Land, the Edomites wouldn’t let them (Numbers 20:14-21)
2 The Lord says, "I will cut you down to size among the nations, Edom; you will be small and despised. 3 You are proud because you live in a rock fortress and make your home high in the mountains. `Who can ever reach us way up here?' you ask boastfully. Don't fool yourselves! 4 Though you soar as high as eagles and build your nest among the stars, I will bring you crashing down. I, the Lord, have spoken!

Obadiah’s prophesy reveals God is not pleased with the pride of Edom. Edom was a small nation and poor in comparison to others, they prided themselves in dwelling in the clefts of mountains. It does not take riches to create pride. There are people who take satisfaction in living hard, poor, or rough.

Consider the people today who think it a badge of honor to keep it real and live ghetto. It is infuriating that these small-minded and selfish people imagine this is what it means to be ‘real Black people’. Sadly, not only are Blacks perpetuating this myth but now other ethnic groups are doing the same for profit.

God is not pleased. Black people and indeed all people dedicated to serving and worshipping God lead lives that praise and worship God. While we may have cultural practices or traditions none of these takes precedence over living by the precepts and truth of God. Holiness knows no colors or class.

*Many scriptures confirm that God detests and rejects pride.

These six [things] doth the LORD hate: yea, seven [are] an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness [that] speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. Proverbs 6:16-19

The fear of the LORD [is] to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate. Proverbs 8:13

Pride [goeth] before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

Pride causes us to become self-important, to believe we are essential to the operations of the living and the outcome of events. We cannot fully praise God when our heart is prideful because our focus is self. Pride is dangerous indeed pride is deadly.

5 "If thieves came at night and robbed you, they would not take everything. Those who harvest grapes always leave a few for the poor. But your enemies will wipe you out completely! 6 Every nook and cranny of Edom will be searched and looted. Every treasure will be found and taken.

God will not let anything be left in Edom. There will be no reason for them to be prideful. There will be no doubt that the devastation and destruction did not come by the hands of man.

There are times when our stiff-necked, arrogance will not allow us to listen or learn from anyone or anything and God must strip us down to nothing. Often people must hit rock bottom or go to the school of hard knocks before they learn to listen and obey. Some people never learn, these people lose everything including their eternal salvation.

7 "All your allies will turn against you. They will help to chase you from your land. They will promise you peace, while plotting your destruction. Your trusted friends will set traps for you, and you won't even know about it. 8 At that time not a single wise person will be left in the whole land of Edom!" says the Lord. "For on the mountains of Edom I will destroy everyone who has wisdom and understanding. 9 The mightiest warriors of Teman will be terrified, and everyone on the mountains of Edom will be cut down in the slaughter.

The Edomites boasted in their wisdom. The men of Edom - especially of the city Teman - were noted for their wisdom. The phrase men of the East in the Old Testament often refers to men from Edom, and passages like 1 Kings 4:30 declare the great wisdom of the men of the East. As well, Jeremiah 49:7 says of Edom: Is wisdom no more in Teman? Has counsel perished from the prudent? Has their wisdom vanished? This was another source of pride for the Edomites.

Again, we must look at the condition of our community. How many of our young people are injured or killed by their own so-called friends or associates? These young people have taken pride in living the hard-life. In their confusion they arrogantly believe no one can reach them emotionally or physically. Yet, statistics show these young people are victims of themselves as they steal from one another, shoot and injure one another, and then turn on each other after supposedly reconciling and promising peace.

Often peace is promised or sealed over drinks and drugs. The bond of peace is soon broken and the very ones who supposedly were friends are now pursuing each other violently. Sadly, this violence spills over into the families and communities and leaves no one untouched. Yet, similar behavior is found in the church.

Our weapons and tactics may differ. However, we experience pride that causes us to fail to live according the example and expectation of Christ. Often we can find the most prideful people in the poorest ministries. In fact, some congregations take pride in never having any people, any purpose, or any plan for the future. These congregations are Edomites, they have traded their spiritual purpose to satisfy their fleshly pleasure.

Now they resent any congregation or ministry that seeks to grow in service to God. Moreover, these Edomites will seek to disrupt or weaken the worship of congregations and ministries dedicated to God. Just like the Edom of the scripture or people in the community, these ministry Edomites will declare peace while determining to destroy ministry endeavors.

Are you an Edomite?

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