Thursday, November 21, 2013

Obadiah: Pride Goes Before Destruction

Obad 2-4 "See, I will make you small among the nations; you will be utterly despised.  The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, 'Who can bring me down to the ground?' Though you soar like the eagle and make your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down," declares the Lord.

The Edomites were descendants of Esau, the elder of the twin brother of Jacob. Ever since Jacob (Israel) stole Esau's birthright in exchange for his stew, the animosity between these two brothers (Edom and Israel) never ceased: "You should not look down on your brother in the day of his misfortune, nor rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their destruction, nor boast so much in the day of their trouble" (v.12). Edom had become proud as the people lived in caves high on the mountain sides. They had also become wealthy and possessed a strong army. They took advantage of Jacob's misfortunes. But their pride and arrogance had become the reason for their downfall and destruction.

Obadiah speaks of the danger of the sin of pride and arrogance, the feeling of superiority that often results from taking advantage of others. Obadiah illustrates the truth of Prov 16:18, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." When we become successful, we often tempted by pride. Consider the stories we have heard of people who have gained wealth, power and fame, how they have often exhibited arrogance and a dismissive attitude towards the less fortunate. This is the basic sin of humanity: pride and arrogance.

Jesus has warned us against pride: "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 14:11). Success of any kind--even in ministry--can generate a kind of pride and arrogance that will attract God's judgement to cut us down to size: "See, I will make you small among the nations; you will be utterly despised." Those who think themselves too big will be made to feel small and despised.

Among human sins, God considers pride the greatest abomination: "Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished" (Prov 16:5, ESV). The mark of true faith is humility because those who have faith recognize their own limitation and acknowledge God's power.

Father, You have called us to humble ourselves before  You, not because You are so great and we are so small, but because You Yourself are so humble. Amen.

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