This Sunday I have to admit I was extremely tired. I had worked a long hard day at the restaurant I serve at and really did not want to go to church (I am sure I am not the only one who has ever had one of those days). I did go though, not really expecting anything exciting or memorable to occur. After saying a few hellos to those I recognized, I went and found a set. With my coffee cup in hand, I sang songs I wish I lived out in my personal life more often than I really care to admit. Seated once again, and after the announcements, Gary took to the podium and began his discourse on one of the most unlikely books of the Bible I would have thought he was going to teach on: The book of Obadiah. My mind first went to that song you might have been taught in remembering the books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus… can I get a witness?)
I finally found Obadiah between Amos and Jonah. Obadiah is a very short book of the Bible (you would sneeze past it if you were not looking for it). I would agree with Gary that it is probably one of the OT books that is most neglected in the local church (there is no ‘feel good’ or ‘Jesus loves everybody’ message in the 21 verses of Obadiah). The God we read about in Obadiah is very much unlike the God we are taught in most churches today. Hence, it is often overlooked and not taught. Gary mentioned though that it does exist in the Bible, so it must have some merit for it’s placement in the OT (even if it is a ‘one-chapter’ wonder).
The message of Obadiah is simple: God was angry at the Edomites and was going to destroy them. I am not going to go verse-by-verse through Obadiah but I will share a few of the verses that have made my reading of this book more valuable and meaningful to me and my walk with Jesus.
“Behold, I will make you small among the nations; you shall be utterly despised. The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in your lofty dwelling, who say in your heart, “Who will bring me down to the ground?” Though you soar aloft like the eagle, though your nest is set among the stars, from there I will bring you down, declares the LORD” (v. 2-4).
I do not like it when people benefit from others unfairly. There are people who work in sweatshops for a very small price. The articles are then shipped to the USA and sold for hundreds of dollars. Meanwhile, there are people working 14 hour days, making only pennies for their long hours of labor. They cannot complain though because they have nothing to begin with. They are so desperate to provide for their families the essential needs of any family so they work unfairly just to survive. This is materialism, commercialism, and consumerism all wrapped into one. Do you know where the clothes you are wearing are made? Do you even care? Maybe we can take a cue from God on this one and say that God cares deeply about the issues facing people who have been mistreated at the expense of other people’s gain. If God takes it as seriously as Obadiah envisions, we need to honestly ask ourselves why we do not take a more proactive role in making sure people are paid an honest wage for their work (even if that means the big companies making billions of dollars a year lose out on their yearly bonuses). God knows what’s going on. It will only be a matter of time until He returns and judges the ethics of man in the workplace. We serve a just God.
“The house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau stubble; they shall burn them and consume them, and there shall be no survivor for the house of Esau, for the LORD has spoken” (v. 18).
These are pretty harsh words aren’t they? And yet they are words spoken by a God who loves justice. God is going to come and make things right in a world flourishing in sin and corruption. It is truly God’s love which brings about this destruction. From a personal perspective, God continually puts me through the fire to make in into the man of God He has called me to be. When those times of ‘going through the fire’ come, it is at times painful. No one said being a Christian was an easy task. It is a lifestyle of being put in the fire yet another time until we reach a point of perfection; having no blemishes or sin remain in us. It is a long process but it is the only way. There are other things I could share about this passage but I will leave that up to you all to read on your own time.
My challenge is to read the book of Obadiah on your own and learn all that you can about this small 21 verse book of the OT. It is filled with a lot of information, truth, hope, and joy. It is also an equally hard book to grasp. Grasp we must though in order to know God and to know His ways. This is the call we have been given by God Himself and we must be diligent in doing so. I hope this has been a blessing to you all.
I will end this post by saying: Each Sunday, I will post my thoughts concerning the message I have heard in church earlier in the day. It will be my time to personally interact with the text and share some thoughts from both the pastor teaching that Sunday and my personal study of the Word. Hence, it will be my reflection called, “Doing Church.” God bless.