But you should not have gazed on the day of your brother in the day of his captivity; nor should you have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; nor should you have spoken proudly in the day of distress. You should not have entered the gate of My people in the day of their calamity. Indeed, you should not have gazed on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity. You should not have stood at the crossroads to cut off those among them who escaped; nor should you have delivered up those among them who remained in the day of distress. For the day of the Lord upon all the nations is near; as you have done, it shall be done to you; your reprisal shall return upon your own head. For as you drank on My holy mountain, so shall all the nations drink continually; yes, they shall drink and swallow, and they shall be as though they had never been. (Obadiah 12-16)
Divine Retribution Will Always Come
Obadiah is the smallest book of the Old Testament with less than 700 words but it is packed with an enormous message of God’s wrath upon all those who trifle with His will and exalt themselves with pride. The central message is directed toward Edom and the misplaced confidence they had in their wisdom and geographical security that no one could defeat them. Edom had exalted itself in the day of Israel’s destruction with a haughty spirit gloating at the misfortune of the people of God. The vision of Obadiah declares the message of divine retribution upon the Edomites for believing they were more powerful than the Lord God and possessed greater wisdom. What made the actions of Edom so heinous was the nature of their relationship with Israel. Through Jacob and Esau, they were near kinsmen. When Israel wandered through the wilderness, Edom refused them passage threatening them with the sword. Throughout the period of judges and kings, Edom was subjugated and often rebelled against Israel. The prophet Amos also condemned the Edomites for their hatred of the Israelites. Because of their strategic advantage, Edom believed no one could defeat them. God reminds the rebellious Edomites that His wrath is eternal and their sin would not go unpunished. The Lord would bring their reward upon their own head for taking part in the destruction of His people and the exaltation they enjoyed in attacking His people would be measured back to them in full as if they never existed. History bears this out as the Nabataeans overrun the country and before Christ Edom became a nonexistent nation. The only remnant of Edom will be found in the Herodian dynasty which ruled during the life of Christ and the early church.
Pride is the most serious of man’s afflictions. It causes him to believe he is his own god and that there is no greater power than his own. Nations rise exalting their might and wisdom with great armies, weapons, and superior force and yet in time, this all comes to naught. Look at the history of the Roman Empire, the great empires of the East, Britain, Germany, Japan, ISIS, and even America. What nation can stand before the wrath of the Lord and who country can claim they can rule the world when the Lord has determined the boundaries of man’s habitation? There is nothing in the arsenal of man that can be greater than the word of God. When a nation turns away from God the wrath of the Lord is soon to follow. Obadiah is preserved in the Bible as a reminder that man does not rule his destiny in the prideful exaltation of self-will, self-wisdom and might through the sword. No nation, country or people are secure from the hand of the Lord if He chooses to exercise His will. The retribution of the Lord will always come against the nations that exalt themselves above the Lord God. Anything man does is insignificant compared to the mighty works of the Creator. Edom is no more because they trusted in themselves. All nations that exalt themselves will be brought low by the hand of the Lord.
The story of Obadiah is one for the individual who fills his heart with pride. There is nothing more amusing to angels to behold a proud man. What does man have to brag about or to boast? He is only a small speck on the canvas of a vast universe that he can never encircle, encompass or conquer. If space travel has taught man one lesson it is to remind him how great the Creator is and how small man is. Things in the heavens are not measured in feet, yards, and miles but light years that go beyond the imagination of man to comprehend. God is so great man is incapable of grasping His character. Pride will destroy the heart of a man when he exalts himself above the will of the Lord. When men fill themselves with their own self-worth they become fools and what always follows a fool is the will of the Lord being executed upon their hearts. It may not be in this life that man faces the wrath of God but all men will stand before the Lord in that great and final day. Great men and small men will be there. Rich and poor alike will all present themselves before the throne of God. All the despots that tried to rule the world will see the face of the only Ruler, Lord, and Judge. The day of the Lord is near upon all those who stand against the will of the Lord. Their deeds shall return on their own head.