Devotional on Obadiah

2013 – Watkins Glen State Park, NY

Another living parable
Obadiah 1: You stood there and watched.
It’s hard to call Obadiah a “book” of the Bible. The whole thing is two and a half pages long and so small that translators decided not to divide it into chapters. It’s also unique because the prophecy of Obadiah is addressed to a nation other than Israel or Judah. Obadiah is focused on their neighbor Edom. Way back in the book of Genesis we find the story of the unlike twins, Jacob and Esau. Here we find the expectant mother Rebekah experiencing such movement within her that she’s concerned about it. The Lord tells her that she’s pregnant with twins and that the two boys will be the founders of two nations that will never get along. In fact, they’re getting a head start on the conflict by fighting while still in the womb. No wonder Rebekah is both uncomfortable and concerned! The first born is Esau who becomes the founder of Edom. The younger is Jacob, who’s later called Israel. In Obadiah we find ourselves hundreds of years down the road. Israel is going through some devastating defeats while Edom watches from a safe distance. Not only does Edom watch it all but they rejoice in what they see. Their ancient enemy is being beaten up to the point of destruction. God’s man, Obadiah, turns his face toward this “brother” of Israel and utters a prophecy of condemnation. Edom and Israel may have a long history of disagreement but they’re still brothers who claim a common ancestry to Isaac. Obadiah tells them that by just watching and even cheering what’s happening to Israel that they’ve made themselves party to all the evil that’s being done. So to my surprise, even though I’m reading a tiny, little-read book of the Old Testament, I realize I’m reading a real life version of the parable of the Good Samaritan. In Obadiah’s scathing words, I see what God thinks of people who fail to show compassion on others, even their enemies, in their time of need.
Take Away: So, who is my neighbor?

Devotional on Obadiah

2013 – Tompkins Campground – Lawrenceville, PA

Good news for people who don’t find harp playing especially attractive
Obadiah 1: A rule that honors God’s kingdom.
The final words of Obadiah’s prophecy describe a coming golden age in which God’s people will be restored to their homeland. Beyond that, they’ll live righteously, in sync with the Lord’s purposes for them. Because of that they’ll be put in charge, ruling even over their old enemies of Edom. Their rule will not be that of a conquering nation, grinding their enemies into the ground, but a fair and just one, representative of their God who loves all human beings. I find it interesting that the Apostle Paul reflects this concept in his second letter to Timothy. Paul writes: “If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him.” At the very beginning of the Bible I see Adam and Eve who are placed in dominion over the earth. In this passage from Obadiah, I find a promised brighter day in which God’s people rule justly, throwing off the old animosities. Then, I see Paul looking forward to the return of Christ and his righteous people ruling with him. I don’t claim to understand all that might include, but it sounds like God has more in store for his people than merely sitting on a cloud playing a harp.
Take Away: As a people of the Lord we’re to reflect his love for all human beings.

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