Elizabeth and I read the Book of Obadiah this morning and were struck by the following passage which underscores David and Patty’s keen observation that this is the Esau generation, speaking of the outright betrayals we see occurring here in Pasadena and elsewhere as religious assets are sold off for a bowl of porridge.
“Will I not in that day,” says the Lord,
“Even destroy the wise men from Edom,
And understanding from the mountains of Esau?
9 Then your mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed,
To the end that everyone from the mountains of Esau
May be cut off by slaughter.
(Edom Mistreated His Brother)
10 “For violence against your brother Jacob,
Shame shall cover you,
And you shall be cut off forever.”
Obadiah a faithful prophet to the exiles in Babylon around 587 B.C. provides reasons why Edom was to be destroyed. Primarily because of its cruelty, treachery and unbrotherly conduct.
Kyle M. Yates, in Preaching from the Prophets comments on the Book of Obadiah, “In these verses, however, we find a strong denunciation of the callous indifferences of the man who stands aloof in the hour of distress and calamity without lifting a hand to help his brother. It is a strong word of warning against enmity, hatred, envy, and unbrotherly conduct. Pusey calls the crime “malicious gazing on human calamity, forgetful of man’s common origin and common liability to ill, which is the worse form of human hate. It was one of the contumelies of the cross ‘They gaze, they look with joy upon me.’
Throughout the history of the US Center for World Mission, aka Frontier Ventures, aka Frontier Mission Fellowship, aka William Carey International University, sadly this cruel treatment had increasingly become the norm as those who were sick were considered dispensible, collaborating organizations, missions, and churches-useful minions to be maligned if they didn’t tow the party line, as carefully crafted and hidden schemes to advance the special interests of the few were hatched secretly in a premeditated fashion. All was done under the cover of the noble cause- fulfillment of the Great Commission- which a small council of insiders highjacked for their own gain while promoting the false gospel of the insider movement. This is a violation of the commandment “Do not take the Name of thy Lord your God in vain.” God will not be mocked and will not share His glory with another as His creation is built upon a foundation of righteousness and justice. Those who willfully break promises will be held to account and especially those who are its architects and henchmen.
Yates concludes with the following observations on the Book of Obadiah:
“Ridicule is always bad for it reveals a low human pride that means an utter lack of brotherly love.” How often had we witnessed this over the years as the community failed in the “love one another’s” time and time again. When those with any backbone and integrity stood up against the powers that be they were sure to feel the wrath of Rehoboam’s cadre who made sure you felt the sting of their displeasure through eviction and excommunication. Recall that the most famous missiologist at the time who claimed the power as Abbot was Ralph D. Winter, who his cohort Phil Foxwell, the magician roommate of Billy Graham warned, “If Ralph wants anything done it will be done.”
Regardless here are some more of the lessons we do well to learn from the Prophet Obadiah:
“God can be depended upon to reveal His righteous purpose in His own good time.”
“Eternal justice will prevail.” Indeed “the wheels of God’s justice grind slowly, but exceedingly fine.”
“Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
“The profane person cannot expect to find favor at the hand of the God whom he has never loved.” While we know there are those in the community such as the Purnells, Heimbachs, who have exhibited these fruits of the Spirit over the years, we have often found them lacking in those who were directly leading the community.
“It is criminal to rejoice in the calamity of another and to gloat over his misfortune.” How often were weaker members of the community harrassed and evicted, or threatened, or ensnared by leaders bent on achieving their own ends driven by covetousness, greed, selfish ambition and vain conceit as David Clancy so aptly pointed out. Rather than considering others interests more important than their own, members were often subjugated to a proscribed, legalistic and skewed Winteresque perspective on “wartime lifestyle who preached do as I say or suffer our disdain.
Cadman zeroes in on the final lesson of Obadiah, “It teaches us that hate silences the voice of compassion, blinds the soul’s vision, corrupts the social fabric, inflicts needless grief and dismay on innocent multitudes, and consigns the political systems which founded it to self-wrought destruction.–No nationalism is defensible if it presumes to limit either God’s love and righteousness or our own moral obligations.”
And one might well also conclude that the same holds true with the mission and the church for judgment indeed begins with the household of God.