A vision comes to Obadiah to deliver against the nation of Edom. The Lord is rousing the nations for battle to fight against Edom. The message from God is that God is going to cut down the nation of Edom to size (1-2). God will decimate and dishonor them. Why is God doing this? Why is God moving the nations to act against Edom? Why does Edom need to be cut down to size? Listen to verse 3.
The Condemnation of Pride (3-9)
“The pride of your heart has deceived you.” The message of the prophecy from Obadiah is the problems and perils of pride. Listen to the pride that they have in their heart in verse 3. “Who will bring me down to the ground?” Edom thinks that there is no nation that can defeat them. No nation can rise against them. Where did this pride come from? A few pictures of some of the fortified cities of Edom will reveal as verse 3 declares that their cities sat high on the rocks. Some of the cities in Edom sat at 5500 feet in elevation. Because of this, they thought they could not fall or be defeated.
But they forgot to consider something. They forgot that the one who rides in the clouds of heaven can bring them down. They looked around on the earth and believed that they were amazing and powerful. They believed that they were in control. They believed they controlled their own destiny. But they forgot about God.
This is the foundation of pride: forgetting God. Pride comes from believing that we do not need God. We think we can depend on ourselves. We have our own strength. We have our own wealth. We have our own abilities. We do not need God. We are self-sufficient. The sad thing is that pride is glorified in our culture. To be independent and self-assured, even to the point of harming others, is glorified.
Notice that the things the people of Edom took pride in are the same things we take pride in as individuals, as a culture, and as a country. In verse 8 they took pride in their wisdom. Teman, a city in Edom, was known as the center for wisdom. We do the same thing. We think we are so educated. We think we are so advanced. We think we are so knowledgeable and are so evolved from our predecessors. We just think we know so much more and those before us were either Neanderthals or buffoons. Therefore, because we are so smart we are going to succeed where others failed.
In verses 7 and 9 we see that the people of Edom took pride in their military might and their allies. But God declares that the mighty men will be dismayed (9). They think that their might will save them from any attack. Nations today think that they will continue to stand because of their military success and might. The problem with pride is that we forget God. A nation is not strong because of its military might. We have seen this in our study of Israel in the Old Testament. Israel did not need fortified cities because God was going to defeat their enemies. When Israel turned from the Lord and built strong cities, those fortified cities were decimated. No one calculated that God will judge pride. Your wisdom will not save you from the judgment of the Lord. Your education and knowledge will not save you from judgment. Your strength and might will not save you from judgment.
God repeatedly gave warnings against pride that would come from forgetting him. Listen to what God told Israel before they entered the land of Canaan that God was to give them.
11 “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, 12 lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, 13 and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, 15 who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, 16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. 17 Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ 18 You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. 20 Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 8:11–20 ESV)
Your pride means you have forgotten God. You think that your success is by your might and forgot that it is because God gave it to you. You forget your wealth is from hand of the Lord and God says he will judge people for doing this.
This is certainly true when it comes to the nation of Edom. The first four verses of Obadiah are a quotation from Jeremiah 49:14-16. God had already prophesied against Edom about their pride and now their judgment was coming. They did not listen to the warning and did not repent. Therefore God’s judgment will leave nothing (5). The nation of Edom will be stripped bare and the destruction will be complete.
Pride Leads to Evil (10-14)
Not only is Edom judged for its attitude of pride, but God also describes that their pride led to their sinful actions. Pride was the basis for their sins. In verse 10 we read that Edom committed violence against Israel. When God allowed the Babylonians to invade Jerusalem three times, people were trying to escape the invasion. But rather than helping Israel when it was invaded, they would kill those who were fleeing. Their pride had taken away their compassion for other people. By elevating self, we no longer care about other people. We will hurt others because pride tells us that we are the only one who is important. We wonder in our society today why people break laws and hurt others. We wonder why violence is increasing. We wonder why things have moved the way that they have. The answer is pride which comes from forgetting God. When we forget God, then we think we are important, and when we think we are important, then others must suffer. This is how violence and genocide occur.
Further, in verse 11 we see that Edom offered no help when the Babylonians came into Jerusalem to destroy nation and city. Edom took a point of view that said that it did not affect them, so they did not care. This is shameful and yet it happens because of pride. Think about how often this has occurred in the history of the world. We can look back to the genocide of the Jews under Hitler. We see Hitler invading nations and no one would do anything. Why not? Because, in our pride, people said that it did not affect them. Pride causes us to lose our compassion so that we no longer care for people. We no longer care that people are getting killed in other places in the world. We just care that it is not here. This is an evil to the Lord and Edom was judged for this attitude. We must care when the innocent suffer. Are other people around the world less valuable to God because they are not Americans? Yet sometimes this is the attitude we see, and people do not care, and a nation does nothing because we only care about ourselves.
Third, not only did Edom not act, but they rejoiced in watching Judah’s misfortune and ruin (12-13). When disaster happened, notice that the people of Edom were taking this as an opportunity to loot the wealth. Pride causes us to take from others, even those who are experiencing misfortune. We are not owed anything. It does not matter if we are being mistreated, we do not have right to take from other people. Pride causes us to show no regard for the property and well-being of others. So Edom is condemned for participating in the calamity.
The Day of the Lord (15-21)
The final verses of this prophecy record a vision of the future concerning what God will do. Notice something interesting in verse 15. The judgment of the day of the Lord is not spoken against Edom. The day of the Lord is near for all the nations. Remember that this prophecy opened with God rousing the nations to attack Edom (1). But now the prophecy moves forward in its declaration. The day of the Lord will come upon all the nations. All people are going to stand under judgment. Edom now represents all the peoples and nations that stands against the Lord.
Notice the measure of God’s judgment in verse 15. “As you have done, it shall be done to you; your deeds shall return on your own head.” To say this scriptural principle another way, that which you sow you will also reap. What you have done to others is what God is going to do to you. Rejecting the Lord means that there will not be grace toward us but a repayment for what we have done to others. This should be a terrifying thought to us. What we have done to others is what God will do to us.
Verse 16 pushes this idea even further. The nations are going to drink and swallow what God is pouring out. God frequently uses this idea of drinking the wine of his wrath as an image of judgment (cf. Isaiah 51:17; Jeremiah 25:16, 28; Habakkuk 2:16). God repays and his wrath will bring about a full judgment that no one will be able to stand against. God ends the book of Revelation with the same note.
“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.” (Revelation 22:12 ESV)
Knowing that God will repay according to our deeds, we should feel the doom that is coming up every person because of what we have done. We have failed. We are full of pride. We have lack compassion. We have acted in ways that show we do not trust in the Lord. But there is an offer of salvation in verse 17.
There is a means of escape and deliverance. Zion is the place of escape. Zion is the place of rescue and safety. Hope is in the Lord. Those who turn to Zion will not be repaid for their sins. God’s people are pictured as the victors. Notice that “the house of Jacob shall be a fire” and “the house of Esau stubble.” In verses 19-20 God’s people are pictured as being restored on God’s promised land in God’s kingdom. In verse 21 God’s people are pictured as deliverers who will rule over the enemies of God and the kingdom will belong to the Lord. The kingdom is restored. Obadiah pictures the reversal that the scriptures teach: the humble will be exalted and the proud will be humiliated.
Here is the biggest problem with pride: God will repay us for our deeds. Pride causes our sinful behaviors which God will repay upon us for doing. Further, the proud will not have hope in God’s future judgments but fear. This makes sense because Obadiah has taught us that pride comes from forgetting God. We have forgotten the Lord our God and therefore are deserving of judgment.
Preventing pride is as simple as being thankful to God and honoring God for all things in all circumstances. This is one reason why the scriptures repeatedly tell us to always be thankful and pray without ceasing. This is how we can defend ourselves against pride. Who you are is because of God. What you have is because of God. Where you are is because of God. Everything is in the hand of God. Be thankful to God today for what you have. As the writer of Ecclesiastes reminds his readers, we are not guaranteed what tomorrow will bring so enjoy what you have from the hand of God today. Honor God every day.