Saturday, November 13, 2010

Reading Obadiah 10-14

As Christians we are very familiar with both the term and concept of "brothers in Christ." We have been taught that regardless of color, creed, race, tongue, or ethnicity those who have been born again by God's Spirit are brothers and sisters in Christ. We are  family as Sister Sledge sung. (I don't know if any of the four sisters comprising Sister Sledge were believers or not)

This concept of the brotherhood of believers is given to contrast the egregious sin committed by Edom. Edom was guilty of "an aggravated lack of brotherhood." This terrible sin developed from the immense pride of the Edomites. (verses 1-9)

Verses 10-14: Edom's Problem

"Because of the violence done to your brother Jacob..." (10)

The gravity of this sin is seen in the fact that it was committed against those who were related to them. The Edomites were descendants of Esau. He was one of the twin boys of Isaac. The Jewish nation had descended for Jacob and the Edomites descended from Esau. These two "nations" were brothers. Any ill treatment by either nation against the other was considered by God to be extremely sinful.

Deuteronomy 23:7 warned the Jewish people very sternly, "You shall not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother." Obadiah 11 describes the fact that the Edomites refused to help the Jews when they were being ransacked and carried away into Babylon. By their refusal to help it was as if they had sided with Babylon and participated in the horrible crimes committed against the Jews by the Babylonians.

Not only did they not help Israel, they began to "gloat" over them (12.) The Edomites derived and experienced pleasure in the horrible misfortunes of their brother nation. This joy over the downfall of the Jews led the Edomites to join the Babylonians as they walked through the gates of the city in order to join in the plundering of their defeated brother.

There is a very interesting word play in the Hebrew in verse 13. The Hebrew word translated disaster and calamity when used in the third-person plural masculine pronoun sounds very much like Edom. Through this seemingly similar sounding words, God hints that the active participation of Edom in the plunder of Israel was the same as if they were fully responsible for the disaster or calamity.

As a result of their "direct" involvement in the fall of Jerusalem God will bring irreversible destruction upon the Edomites. In other words, God would treat Edom as Edom treated his brother Israel. Edom's pride led to Edom's problem. Being deceived in their hearts that they were superior and invincible led them to treat their brother as if they were an enemy instead of a beloved family member.

There doesn't seem to be a word for this sin. When I say word, we immediately know what is meant when we hear words like gluttony, adultery, slander, anger, selfishness, or theft. James Boice called this, for lack of a better word "unbrotherliness." This word seems to lack any kind of impact doesn't it?

What does it mean? It means that we treat our family, brothers or sisters in a sinful manner, in a manner opposite of how we should treat them. We are to love our brother. As a matter of fact, our love toward other believers, who are our brothers, is a test of whether we are truly born again or not. We should defend, encourage, serve, and protect our brother - not despise them, hate them, plunder them, and participate in their hurt.

How can we hate fellow believers in our local churches? How can we carry on long-lasting grudges? How can we speak ill of and mean towards those who are fellow believers? How can we refuse help or aid when we see fellow believers fall to sin or in the midst of a trial. Yet, we all know this takes place, don't we? Churches split because of such intense pride that leads to hurtful action against those who are our brothers and sisters that Christ gave His life for.

I was once in a church business meeting during a heated argument in which one member turned to another member - both supposedly related in Christ by His blood - and said, "Shut up and sit down, when you have been here as long as I have, then maybe you can say something." I have seen brothers gloat over the troubles of other brothers in the body. How can this be?

Edom's Problem according to verses 10-14 was their evil treatment against their own brothers. The refused to help defend them, they joined in the plunder, they took great joy in Israel's demise, and they even turned survivors to the enemy. God charged Israel with doing wrong by failing to do right. It was Edom's duty to come to the aid of their brother.

Our duty, beloved, is to come to the aid of our brothers in Christ. Never suffer for failing to do the right thing when it comes to the family of God. We can't over look sin or failure but we love and help all of our brothers when and where we can.

30 Days of Thanksgiving

I am thankful for the brothers and sisters in the body of Christ who have been my help, strength, encouragement, and blessing through the years that I have been a believer! As Gaither wrote,"You will notice we say "brother and sister" 'round here, It's because we're a family and these are so near; When one has a heartache, we all share the tears, 


Ma ~ said...

I enjoyed the summary, it was very clear and understandable. I think people steer clear of the OT prophets sometimes because they seem hard to figure out.

I love the picture of Nelson btw...ha ha!

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Most enjoyable to read Gregg.

Have a wonderful week-end;


welcome to my world of poetry said...

Hi Gregg for all the inspiration and contunued support to me there is an award on my Christmas Shopping blog.


Kansas Bob said...

"How can we speak ill of and mean towards those who are fellow believers?"

By saying that they are not really believers and thus not really family. It is one of the dark sides of narrow theologies. Sad when that happens. Our message is love and we are called to love even when a person does not agree with us.

Persis said...

Amen, Gregg. If we love God, we should love the brethren.

I too am thankful that I am part of the family of God.

Seams Inspired said...

Great insight, Gregg! I had so many different thoughts running through my head as I read these verses of Obadiah...

I've now got more biblical back-up when my kids argue. :o)

The verses about gloating reminded me of footage I saw after 9/11 and watching the people in those Arab nations cheering while our nation suffered. I realize the verses don't technically apply, since Muslims are not Christian; however, that was the image brought to mind while I read.

And I guess your points on fighting within the Christian community will always be a struggle. The motives are selfish in nature. When we look at the what's-in-it-for-me aspect, we'll never get along. Perhaps it would be better to start each day with, "Hey, God! What's on Your agenda while working through me?"

I still find it amazing that Obadiah is only 21 verses. It's so packed with information and lessons!

Happy Sunday! :o)