September-December is a great time here at Saar Fellowship: returning friends, new friends, new routines, a chance to ditch things from our lives that don’t belong. Although it’s the ninth month of the year, September always feels like a fresh start, doesn’t it? Maybe your kids go back to school, maybe you’re back at work after a summer break off the island, maybe you’re feeling ready for everything to start again after the summer lull.
So far in Obadiah, we’ve seen that pride is a terrible thing (vv.1-4), and that we should not boast (vv.5-9). Today, we see that ignorance is not innocence, and knowing the right thing is only good if we do it (These verses are actually paralleled in Jeremiah 49, showing us that Jeremiah likely had Obadiah’s prophecy before him in writing and in ministry).
“Because you violently slaughtered your relatives, the people of Jacob,
shame will cover you, and you will be destroyed forever.
You stood aloof while strangers took his army captive,
and foreigners advanced to his gates.
When they cast lots over Jerusalem,
you behaved as though you were in league with them.
You should not have gloated when your relatives suffered calamity.
You should not have rejoiced over the people of Judah when they were destroyed.
You should not have boasted when they suffered adversity.
You should not have entered the city of my people when they experienced distress.
You should not have joined in gloating over their misfortune when they suffered distress.
You should not have looted their wealth when they endured distress.
You should not have stood at the fork in the road to slaughter those trying to escape.”
You should not have captured their refugees when they suffered adversity”.
We read here a series of judgements on Edom for standing by whilst Jacob (Israel) was attacked and didn’t help. They knew they should have helped due to their shared ancestry, but they didn’t (cf. Genesis 25). Their sin is one of attitude (vv.10-12) and action (vv.13-14).
As for what they did/did not do, the list goes from bad to worse:
They did nothing, they stood aloof, whilst they were being attacked.
Then rejoiced in the distress of their neighbours.
Then took advantage of this situation.
Then joined in with the attack.
Finally, the Edomites killed those trying to escape.
The pride and betrayal we read of are, sadly, very human conditions. If we are honest, pride and betrayal lurk within us all. Edom knew that they should have helped (your relatives) but didn’t, and standing around whilst these terrible things happened and feigning ignorance of what was happening is simply not good enough.
So, are we the same?
Are we the same when we see people in distress? The parable of the good samaritan clearly shows us that our neighbour – the one we are to help – is the one with a need right in front of us, either spiritual or practical (Luke 10).
Today then, let us not be like Edom. Where there is a need let us be mindful and aware of it. Let us do what we can do to help. Let us pull together as a house of living stones to help collectively if needed, but let us not pretend we are unaware of what is happening around us, because ignorance is not innocence.
Scriptures to think on today;
“My commandment is this—to love one another just as I have loved you”.
“But the one who did not know his master’s will and did things worthy of punishment will receive a light beating. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required, and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be asked”.