Summary: 3 times that something was more important than God
Sermon for Sunday April 19, 2018
Obadiah Part 1
The story is told of two ducks and a frog who lived happily together in a farm pond. The best of friends, the three would amuse themselves and play together in their waterhole. When the hot summer days came, however, the pond began to dry up, and soon it was evident they would have to move. This was no problem for the ducks, who could easily fly to another pond. But the frog was stuck. So it was decided that they would put a stick in the bill of each duck that the frog could hang onto with his mouth as they flew to another pond. The plan worked well--so well, in fact, that as they were flying along a farmer looked up in admiration and mused, "Well, isn't that a clever idea! I wonder who thought of it?" The frog said, "I did..."
When I read Obadiah for the 1st, and the 2nd and 3rd times, and more times after that, I struggled with it. It resembles beautiful Old Testament poetry but it left more questions than answers. I’ve prayed and struggled with the text, having no doubt that the Lord has led us to examine this beautiful book and to grow from it, to learn from it, and to be more of the people he has called us to be as a result.
The subject of the book of Obadiah is not the nation of Israel, but rather, the nation of Edom. Edom was located in what is now modern-day Jordan, but as a people, the Edomites no longer exist. The message while directly written to and about Edom, is more than just about Edom as we examine it today, however. There are some major themes and some cautions to which we would do well to pay attention.
As you’ve already picked up in this passage we’ve read today, you wouldn’t want to be an Edomite about this time. Your days are numbered. But as we examine what led up to this passage, we can have an understanding of a sin the Lord seems to really hate more than other sins, and we can have a caution in our own hearts about how to please the Lord rather than incur His wrath.
Contained with our book today are actually not one but three examples of this sin that the Lord detests. As you know, the sins that the Jewish people committed over the years of the Old testament were frequent and they were harsh. They resulted in the northern kingdom of Israel being wiped out as a culture, and the southern kingdom of Judah being taken into captivity for many years by the Babylonians. Because the Jewish people were a sinful people who never could put God first and keep Him there, they received many punishments, some of which still linger today.
But looking at this book, we see that the Edomites ceased to be. Even the northern kingdom wasn’t annihilated like that – they intermarried with other religions and lost their own culture, but there were still remnants of what once was. Here in 2015 we still have Jewish people today, direct descendants of those Jewish people we read of in the Scriptures. But the Edomite people and culture was completely erased from history. Why? Why would the Lord do this? What was it that they did that resulted in such a harsh punishment? Let’s examine the answer to that in 3 different persons or peoples and see why these events may have come to pass.
Esau – Forsaking all for hunger
Turn to Malachi 1:2-3
2 "I have loved you," says the LORD. But you say, "How have you loved us?""Is not Esau Jacob's brother?" declares the LORD. "Yet I have loved Jacob…
3 but Esau I have hated.
Well, how did this poor guy named Esau get drug into our sermon today, and why does God hate him? To know that, we need to know the origin of the nation of Edom. It is stated in Genesis 36:1, which says
1 These are the generations of Esau (that is, Edom).
And so we realize when we continue reading in Malachi 1 that God is talking about the nation of Edom, sometimes called Esau, just as the nation of Israel was named for Esau’s twin brother, Jacob, whose name was also Israel. It continues…
2 "I have loved you," says the LORD. But you say, "How have you loved us?""Is not Esau Jacob's brother?" declares the LORD. "Yet I have loved Jacob
3 but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert."
4 If Edom says, "We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins," the LORD of hosts says, "They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called 'the wicked country,' and 'the people with whom the LORD is angry forever.'"