Our Heart Towards God
This study Â© 1999 by David Humpal
vs 1-2 Who was Edom? What was Godâ™s punishment going to be on Edom? Share a time when God has disciplined you? What did you learn from the experience?
Edomites were the descendants of Esau, Jacobâ™s brother. According to Unger, Edom was situated in the Southeast border of Palestine and properly called the mountain of Seir. It seems that the rivalry between Jacob and Esau continued with their descendants. God sends a message to Obadiah that Edom will be brought down in battle which is exactly what happened.
God disciplined the Edomites for wrongdoing and God will discipline us too. As we look at the sins of the Edomites, let us also examine our own hearts. What God did not condone in this nation he will also not condone in us. If we want to avoid the punishment of Edom, we need to examine what kind of heart we have toward others.
vs 3 What wrong attitude does this verse talk about? How does pride sometimes deceive us? How can this attitude affect the way we minister to others?
We are told that the Edomites had a proud heart. This was probably because they felt their natural hill country would keep them from harm. The New Ungerâ™s Bible Dictionary speaks of their mountain fortress, "The average elevation of the summit is about two thousand feet above the sea. Along the eastern side runs an almost unbroken limestone ridge, a thousand feet or more higher than the other. This ridge sinks down with an easy slope into the plateau of the Arabian Desert. Although Edom is thus wild, rugged, and almost inaccessible, the deep glens and flat terraces along the mountainsides are covered with rich soil, from which trees, shrubs, and flowers now spring up luxuriantly."
God said that those who had pride in their heart would be brought down to the ground. Pride can affect us in many negative ways. Not only does it make us look down at others, but it also can deceive us into believing that we are something that we are not. Notice Obadiah says the Edomiteâ™s pride had deceived them. When we fool ourselves into thinking that we are better than we really are, we will find it will affect every area of our ministry to others. We may think that there are those who are too far beneath us, or that there are others who arenâ™t good enough or spiritual enough. We may start imposing impossible standards on others not realizing the whole time how weak, and helpless, and unworthy we truly are.
But God can change our arrogance into humility. Pusey writes, "But lowness, as people use it, is the mother either of lowliness or pride. A low estate, acquiesced in by the grace of God, is the parent of lowliness; when rebelled against, it generates a greater intensity of pride than greatness, because that pride is against nature itself and God's appointment. The pride of human greatness, sinful as it is, is allied to a natural nobility of character. Copying pervertedly the greatness of God, the soul, when it receives the Spirit of God, casts off the slough, and retains its nobility transfigured by grace."
vs 4 What attitude do you think this verse reveals? How would this verse apply to us today? Have you seen where God has brought someone down? What was the result?
Here Obadiah condemns the Edomiteâ™s self-exaltation. In fact these words could be written for us today. We who soar into the sky and even send ships into outer space may be guilty of self-exaltation. Do you think it was just coincidence that the spaceship that landed on the moon was named the Eagle? We need to be careful that we donâ™t feel superior because of our technology or prosperity or knowledge. God said "from there I will bring you down."
I had a friend who earned a lot of money in a short period of time trying to retire by age 40. He was so consumed with earning money that he lost his wife and family. But he continued until he thought he had enough to quit working. Then he proceeded to spend his money foolishly on wild parties and a destructive lifestyle. After only a few years of retirement, he developed cancer and had to spend his money on medical bills. He became destitute.
Pusey remarks, "They who boast of being Christians, and are on that ground self-satisfied, promising themselves eternal life, and thinking that they need not fear Hell, because they are Christians and hold the faith of the Apostles, while their lives are altogether alien from Christianity, are such Edomites, priding themselves because they dwell in clefts of the rocks. For it sufficeth not to believe what Christ and the apostles taught, unless thou do what they commanded."
vs 5-6 Why will Edom be so ransacked and lose everything? What would happen to you if you lost all your worldly goods?
Verse 6 tells us that Edom had hidden away worldly treasures. Some Christians put their trust in worldly treasures instead of in God. God said that Edom would not only lose some of their goods as when a thief comes and steals only what he can carry away, but they would be ransacked. If our treasure is in heavenly things, then it matters little if our goods are pillaged. But if our treasure is in things of this world, then we may lose everything some day and fall into hopeless despair.
Moody Bible Institute tells this story, "The body of David Livingstone was buried in England where he was born, but his heart was buried in the Africa he loved. At the foot of a tall tree in a small African village the natives dug a hole and placed in it the heart of this man who they loved and respected. If your heart were to be buried in the place you loved most during life, where would it be? ... Where is your heart?"
vs 7 Have you experienced where you or your children have listened to friends instead of God? Why are we so easily swayed by our peers to do what we know is not right? How can we overcome this trap?
Here we see how the Edomites are betrayed by their friends. Christians are sometimes guilty of listening to their friends instead of God. We talk about peer pressure thatâ™s on teenagers and young adults. But we experience peer pressure at every decade in our life. How do we respond to "what others expect of us" instead of what God wants us to do? How many times have we gone along with inappropriate behavior at work, in school, or in the community so that we wouldnâ™t "make waves"?
The desire to please others is a very strong human emotion. It makes for a stable and healthy society. But there are times when we have to stand up for what we know is right. We may not be very popular at these times, but we can be assured that we will be popular with God! We will listen to who is more important in our life. If others are more important to us than God, than thatâ™s to whom we will listen. However, if God is more important than anything else in our life, than we will obey God and not man.
vs 8 What does God think of human wisdom? Relate how you have tried to rationalize your wrong behavior with human wisdom.
It seems God is singling out the wise men of Edom. Just like the Edomites, we can rely on human wisdom and our own understanding. We can see what God thinks of our wisdom in Isaiah 55:8-9, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
What happens is we try to make excuses for our behavior and try to justify it. Sometimes we will even quote scripture to make our case. We can even convince ourselves that what we are doing is right because we are depending on human wisdom. But God tells us that our wisdom is not good enough. We must depend on his wisdom and follow the leading of his Spirit. But sometimes we only learn these hard lessons after we have tried to do it our own way and made such a mess that God has to pull us out of our crisis.
vs 9 Why do you think Obadiah would mention the warriors? What strength or ability do you have that you rely on?
In the previous verse we saw how the Edomites were depending on their own wisdom. Now we see they were also depending on their own strength. Of course we do the same thing. We trust our strength or our talent or our ability. God does want us to use our gifts for him, but he doesnâ™t want us to solely depend on our own strength. Edom was counting on the inaccessibility of their strongholds and the strength of their army to keep them safe. But they would be defeated. What are you counting on? If God is not part of the picture, you will be terribly disappointed.
David wrote in Psalm 20:7-8, "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm." We may not be a king or leader of a country, but we can trust in the wrong things too. Sometimes, it is only when our skill, health, or finances dwindle that we learn how to truly trust in the name of the Lord our God.
vs 10 Against whom did Edom bring violence? What was the relationship between Esau and Jacob? Who is your brother?
Edom was guilty of violence against Israel. God does not want us to be a violent people. He wants us to be a people of peace. When we allow these bad attitudes which we have been discussing to have reign in our heart, we will find that they will sometimes express themselves in violent behavior. Esau and Jacob were brothers who got angry with each other. This anger carried from generation to generation. Who do you get angry with? God wants us to treat all as if they were our brothers and our sisters.
Remember that when it came time to build Godâ™s temple, he did not allow David, the warrior king, to be the one to build it. Instead his son Solomon, whose very name means peace, was to build Godâ™s house. Do you want God to build his temple in your heart? Then you must stop being a person of violence and instead become a person of peace. Thatâ™s the way God intended it.
vs 11 What wrong attitude of the heart is condemned in this verse? Share a time when you knew God wanted you to help someone, but you were too afraid. Why is it so many people donâ™t want to get involved in the lives of others?
In the previous verse we saw how Edom was condemned for overt actions of violence. In this verse they are condemned for covert actions of not helping Israel. We can sometimes easily see those overt wrongs that we do - those sins of commission, but we overlook the covert wrongs we do - the sins of omission. James 4:17 tells us, "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins."
God will prompt us at times to help someone or to pray for someone or to begin some work or ministry. Usually, we make excuses instead of doing what we know God is telling us to do. I think part of this is fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, and not wanting to spend the time. We need to be willing to listen to Godâ™s voice speaking to our heart. We need to be willing to not "stand aloof" as the Edomites did. There really is nothing more important for us to do than that which God wants us to do.
This study on Obadiah 1-11 Â© 1999 by David Humpal, all rights reserved.
New Ungerâ™s Bible Dictionary, electronic version Â© 1988, Moody Press
Pusey: Barnesâ™ Notes on the Old Testament, electronic version Â© 1997, Biblesoft
Moody Bible Institute: Today in the Word, December 1989, pg. 14