Scripture Reading: Obadiah 1:1-21, Genesis 27:41-42, Ezekiel 25:12-14
I am reading Obadiah from the front porch swing just before dark. It’s raining, as it has been all afternoon, though from my last glance at the forecast, I would have sworn today would be sunny and warm. That’s the way forecasts work—for weather and politics, finances and medical prognoses. They are guesses, by definition. But I still check the weather each day when I wake, to see if something bright or somber brews beyond the clouds.
We’ve heard that knowledge is power, so we look to those with more wisdom and experience than us to divvy out the forecasts. We look to them to tell us what to do, how to think, how to prevent, how to plan. And most of them do their honest best to deliver. Even so, not a single soul can keep the rain from falling.
No meteorologist can predict the path of every storm. No politician has perfect policy. No surgeon can conquer every cancer. No matter how lofty our intellect and noble our cause, none of us is God.
We know this in our heads, but sometimes—oftentimes—our hearts forget.
The Minor Prophets in the Old Testament proclaim God’s judgment on many nations, but the tiny book of Obadiah calls out only one—Edom. Edom is the nation descended from Esau, son of Isaac and twin brother of Jacob. And though Edom’s sins were surely many, Obadiah’s prophecy focuses on one sin that seems to be the root of all their others: pride.
Your arrogant heart has deceived you,
you who live in clefts of the rock
in your home on the heights,
who say to yourself,
“Who can bring me down to the ground?” (vv.3-4).
Edom had grown haughty in their position and power. They felt—and acted—untouchable, invincible. And while they indeed held a privileged position among their neighboring nations, they were not beyond the reach of the sovereign Lord of all nations.
Though you seem to soar like an eagle
and make your nest among the stars,
even from there I will bring you down.
This is the Lord’s declaration (v.4).
History, Scripture included, is filled with rulers and nations like Edom who failed to wield their power wisely. King Saul was lauded as a wise and good king at the start of his reign, but he later turned his back on God, endangering his people and losing his throne (1 Samuel 13). King David was beloved by his people, but his moral failure had disastrous consequences and his own son led a rebellion against him (2 Samuel 11). King Herod was so disillusioned by his power that he ordered a massacre of children in his kingdom (Matthew 2:16).
These examples may feel extreme or distant to our modern sensibilities, but they point to a truth that still stands: There is only one God worthy of our trust, one King worthy of our worship.
The Lord promises that Edom—and all nations—will get their due. They’d mocked their neighbors in distress; they’d lorded their position of power over others; they’d failed to offer justice and compassion. Perhaps we have, too. Thanks be to God for Jesus, the one who lived a life of justice, compassion, and righteousness in our place, then took the punishment for our injustice, pride, and sin upon Himself. Only in Him can we find the peace others seek in power, policy, health, and wealth. Only He gives the blessing and home our hearts long for.
Humans will fall and plans will fail, but the kingdom will be the Lord’s.