First Baptist Church
Des Moines, NM
Welcome back to the Ministerial Alliance program and back to our survey of the Minor Prophets of the Old Testament. We’ve looked at the writings of Hosea, Joel, and Amos so far and today we’re looking at the very short book of Obadiah. As I look thru these books, I’m definitely looking at them from a New Testament perspective. I’m looking at them as a person who believes the deity of Jesus Christ and in his atoning sacrifice on my part. Therefore, when I look at the Old Testament works, I’m looking at them as a person who sees Jesus or, more correctly, sees the works of a God to whom Jesus was the continuation or peak of those works. In other words, Jesus Christ is the ultimate form of grace and mercy, but we see grace and mercy all throughout the Old Testament. We’ve seen in the Minor Prophets already examined and we’ll see it today in Obadiah. There’s another theme, though, and that is the theme of repentance. The Old Testament teaches it, Christ taught it, Paul taught it, John taught it, Peter preached on it, and it is, in short, the theme of the Bible. We won’t see anything new in Obadiah then, just the same themes of grace, mercy, sin, and repentance- themes that never grow old and should never be forgotten. With that in mind, may God bless this message and may it glorify Him thru the grace and truth of Jesus Christ- Amen.
Obadiah is a short book- it is, in fact, the shortest book of the Bible, running only 21 verses. But there’s nothing small about its message, just as there’s nothing small about the message of grace and mercy in light of our sin and rebellion. Obadiah aims squarely at one sin- pride. Here’s the text:
The vision of Obadiah. Thus says the Lord GOD concerning Edom (We have heard a report from the LORD, And a messenger has been sent among the nations, saying, "Arise, and let us rise up against her for battle"): "Behold, I will make you small among the nations; You shall be greatly despised. The pride of your heart has deceived you, You who dwell in the clefts of the rock, Whose habitation is high; You who say in your heart, 'Who will bring me down to the ground?' Though you ascend as high as the eagle, And though you set your nest among the stars, From there I will bring you down," says the LORD. (Obadiah 1:1-4 NKJV)
Pride is something we don’t discuss much. As James Montgomery Boice points out in his commentary on Obadiah, if we were to say of a man "He’s a good man, except that he’s a thief", we might gasp and say "What? A thief can’t be a good man!" But if we were to say "He’s a good man, although prideful", then we tend to just shake our heads and say "Oh well… no one’s perfect!" But that’s not how the Bible treats pride at all. Pride is a common theme in the Bible. I can find condemnations of pride in nearly every book of the Bible, but here are just 3 examples:
The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverse mouth I hate. (Proverbs 8:13 NKJV)
Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, Than to divide the spoil with the proud. (Proverbs 16:18-19 NKJV)
For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man." (Mark 7:21-23 NKJV)
In Obadiah, God says that "the pride of your heart has deceived you". Things that deceive are, of course, from the devil, not from God- that’s what Jesus says in Mark, calling pride an "evil thing". Because the nation of Edom thought themselves high and mighty and unable to be brought down, and because this pride deceived them and took them away from God, God is going to bring them down. I don’t know about you, I think this has some scary implications for us here in the United States. Our nation has drifted farther and farther away from God while at the same time building ourselves up higher and higher and giving ourselves more and more credit for our standing.
In Edom’s case, they are going to be utterly destroyed. As God says:
"If thieves had come to you, If robbers by night Oh, how you will be cut off! Would they not have stolen till they had enough? If grape-gatherers had come to you, Would they not have left some gleanings? (Obadiah 1:5 NKJV)
He’s saying that if thieves or grape-gathers had come, they’d leave at least a little something. But when God comes, there will be nothing left. Here’s what will happen:
All the men in your confederacy Shall force you to the border; The men at peace with you Shall deceive you and prevail against you. Those who eat your bread shall lay a trap for you. No one is aware of it. "Will I not in that day," says the LORD, "Even destroy the wise men from Edom, And understanding from the mountains of Esau? Then your mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, To the end that everyone from the mountains of Esau May be cut off by slaughter. (Obadiah 1:7-9 NKJV)
Edom is receiving this punishment because they failed to support those who needed their help, help that Edom was able to provide:
"For violence against your brother Jacob, Shame shall cover you, And you shall be cut off forever. In the day that you stood on the other side In the day that strangers carried captive his forces, When foreigners entered his gates And cast lots for Jerusalem Even you were as one of them. "But you should not have gazed on the day of your brother In the day of his captivity; Nor should you have rejoiced over the children of Judah In the day of their destruction; Nor should you have spoken proudly In the day of distress. You should not have entered the gate of My people In the day of their calamity. Indeed, you should not have gazed on their affliction In the day of their calamity, Nor laid hands on their substance In the day of their calamity. You should not have stood at the crossroads To cut off those among them who escaped; Nor should you have delivered up those among them who remained In the day of distress. "For the day of the LORD upon all the nations is near; As you have done, it shall be done to you; Your reprisal shall return upon your own head. (Obadiah 1:10-15 NKJV)
Note what Edom did. On the day that Jerusalem was taken captive, Edom "cast lots for Jerusalem, even you were at one of them." God says "you should not have on the day of your brother in the day of his captivity." The word "gazed" is often translated as "gazed down on". This thought is emphasized a few verses later with "nor should you have spoken proudly in the day of distress." It seems clear that Edom not only consented to Jerusalem’s captivity, but then gazed down upon them with pride, thinking herself too powerful to fall.
Pride therefore is a sin from which we must all be on guard. As Paul write to the church at Corinth:
Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. (1 Corinthians 10:12 NKJV)
Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:41 NKJV)
And in Revelation, Jesus warns:
….. you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing- and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked (Revelation 3:17 NKJV)
In Revelation, Jesus next statement is the great theme of the Bible. While in v 17 he warns of the people’s pride and deception, in v. 18, he offers hope:
I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. (Revelation 3:18-19 NKJV)
Well, there’s the same theme we’ve been seeing all week- "repent!" Along with that repentance, though, comes this- if you buy from Jesus' gold refined in the fire, then you’ll be truly rich, you can buy white garments and be clothed in them, and you can anoint your eyes so that you can see. All for the price of repentance from sins. A small price to pay on our part, a huge price paid by Jesus Christ on our behalf so that these things might be made available to us. Back in Obadiah, we see an interesting passage:
"But on Mount Zion there shall be deliverance, And there shall be holiness; The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. (Obadiah 1:17 NKJV)
On Mount Zion, there is deliverance and holiness. In Obadiah, God promises this to those who do not become deceived by their pride and in Revelation, Jesus offers it to those who repent. Where’s the connection? The connection is that pride prevents people from repenting. Pride deceives people and tells them "Oh, c’mon, you’re not that bad. You should be proud of yourself! After all, wow!, just look at you!! You’re good, dude! Maybe some need to repent, but you’re not one of them." That’s what pride says, but what we know from the Bible is that pride deceives. Pride puffs up and falsely exalts. And with this false puffing up, comes a big crash. As Jesus says:
Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men- extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.' And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:9-14 NKJV)
"Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." In another place, Jesus says, speaking of himself in parable:
Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder." (Luke 20:18 NKJV)
The message I see in Obadiah is to examine yourself. Are you haughty and prideful? Repent and cast yourself upon Jesus for remission of sins. It is so much better to fall upon Him, than to have Him fall upon you, as the total destruction and annihilation of Edom so clearly shows. The message of all the Minor Prophets we’ve seen this week is "repent". As Peter said on the day of Pentecost- "repent and be saved from this perverse generation."
Back to Amos
Forward to Jonah