Obadiah: Deep Dive
EDOM, PRIDE & JUDGEMENT
As we have seen in the dive, the main point that the book of Obadiah is trying to make is that God's people should take courage, and the reason for this is that God still reigns supreme over the universe and all its inhabitants. The hope that God's people are to cling to is that God will take care of us and that the wrongs done unto the house of Judah will be made right.
What struck me as I read this book and as I researched the Edomites was their pride which had brought God's judgement upon them. We see very early in the book that God himself directly opposes Edom and in verses 2-4 we find the basis for God's disapproval and hostility towards Edom: "Behold, I will make you small among the nations, you shall be utterly despised. The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, whose dwelling is high, who say in your heart, 'Who will bring me down to the ground?' Though you soar aloft like the eagle, though your nest is set among the stars, thence I will bring you down, says the Lord."
What we see here is that the Edom’s pride is the root cause of their impending doom, for their pride deceived them into thinking that they were as secure and out of reach of men. They forgot God and so he declares that they will be brought down by his judgment.
The Problem with Pride
CS Lewis said that “Pride is essentially competitive,” “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better looking than others.”
What we see in Obadiah is that the bondage of pride caused the nation of Edom to take whatever opportunity they could to exalt themselves over Judah. Edom delighted in the destruction of Judah, when the Babylonians were carrying Judah off into exile, Edom stood aloof, looted, and cut off the stragglers and so God has laid the charge that they “were like one of them” (v11); and God reveals to Obadiah that he will not let this sin go unpunished.
It is important to see that Edom’s pride was based on a lie, they thought they were unassailable and therefore were deceived into their own sense of pride. Pride not only has the ability to distort but also to corrupt every area of our lives. Pride shifts our focus onto ourselves and whilst we are focusing on and glorifying ourselves we cannot see our need for God, nor can we see the needs in others.
The Extent Of Its Reach
Again Lewis’ words are illuminating here, he says: “There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which everyone loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves.” 1
We should not think of ourselves as immune to its allure, lest we too be brought down from our lofty dwellings in the cleft. The word of God reminds us that we are all equal before God in our inequities and our need for salvation, for we have all sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God and exchanged it for man-made images, which we have then worshipped and served (Romans 1-3). None are beyond its reach.
How Does One Deal With Pride?
There are many ways one can ascribe to deal with pride, but I have found that reminding myself of 3 simple Gospel Truths are the most effective.
God is Bigger
Again, I find Lewis extremely helpful, he reminds us that “In God, you come up against something that is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself,” and that “A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.” 1
C. J. Mahaney writes, “Pride is when sinful human beings aspire to the status and position of God and refuse to acknowledge their dependence upon Him.” The more we get to know God, the more we realise how small we are compared to his awe and wonder. We must come to the Word of God with humility and acknowledge our place in comparison to God. Then we can have our eyes lifted to the heavens and can see where our help comes from.
Nothing Is My Own
In 1 Corinthians 4:7, Paul asks the arrogant Corinthians, “For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” We need to be reminded constantly that we are indebted to God, it is purely by the grace of God that we have breathe in our lungs, let alone any material blessings that we boast in. Our very salvation comes as a gift from God, not from ourselves so no man can boast.
We Are All In Need of Grace
The Gospel has an incredible way of levelling our pride because the grounds of our justification before God have been steamrolled by the Cross and we are all equal before God, both in our need for the Gospel and how we are then reconciled into this new family of God.
Once we realize that the element of “competition” which Lewis described, has gone, pride no longer has any foundation. This is because the grace of the Gospel is the wrecking ball for pride. Once we lay hold of the grace of God, the reasons for our pride are crushed under the magnitude of its weight.
The gospel of grace meets our pride and reminds us of our fallenness and our pride doesn’t look so self-sufficient in the light of the news that a crucified Savior has come to redeem us from our sins. It is difficult for the person who truly grasps the nature of these truths in light of the grace of God to be prideful.