Today’s Chocolate: Chocolove Dark Chocolate Coffee Crunch
Today’s Passage: Obadiah 1
Welcome to Obadiah, the shortest book in the Old Testament. We’ll be saying goodbye to it before we know it, but in the meantime, let’s see what we can dig up. It’s primarily a prophecy of judgment against the nation of Edom, although it also mentions the southern kingdom of Judah.
Who are the Edomites? They’re the descendants of Esau. Their progenitor received the name “Edom” when he traded his birthright to his younger brother Jacob; “Edom” means “red,” the color of the stew that Esau traded his inheritance for (Genesis 25:30). Even though the two brothers patched things up between them, their offspring never were on entirely copacetic terms. Generations later, under the leadership of Moses, the Israelites found themselves obstructed by the descendants of Edom (Numbers 20:14-21), who refused to let Israel pass through their territory. And as we’ll see, that animosity has been preserved even in Obadiah’s time.
But first the accusation. What crime has God sent Obadiah to charge them with? Pride. God declares, “The arrogance of your heart has deceived you…who say in your heart, ‘who will bring me down to earth?'” (3). The nation of Edom considers itself so high that no one can dethrone it. Like the builders of the Tower of Babel, they’ve been aiming to put themselves on the level of heaven itself–only the people of Edom think they’ve actually reached it. God, however, is about to dispel their delusions of grandeur.
But the punishment should fit the crime. Therefore, God aims to drag them back down to earth to break their pride. He explains: “Though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down” (4). There’s also a promise of ambush and looting, the usual advancing armies and ruined cities so common to prophetic judgment, but God’s sentence emphasizes humbling Edom. He states, “Behold, I will make you small among the nations; you are greatly despised” (2), later adding, “Because of violence to your brother Jacob, you will be covered with shame” (10). It comes out that Edom’s pride has led it to besiege and raid God’s people. Old grudges have grown from bad attitudes into open hostility and violence.
The easy take-home from the entire book of Obadiah is “Don’t get proud.” But one point struck me: we typically think of pride as an personal vice, but this book is addressed to an entire nation. Far and away the majority of my readers are American, and here we don’t view arrogance that way. Does your culture’s individualism blind you to the pervasive pride in your world?
Edom saw themselves as the top of the international food chain and came together to act on that vision. Perhaps we do too, but we’re too myopic in our cultural atomism to see it.