Obadiah 2 - the joy of (other people's) pain

Obadiah is the least popular book in the bible. That’s probably because its in the Old Testament, it’s small, it’s written in a situation we are unfamiliar with and it’s message seems a bit harsh. All the prophets tell us something of the gospel and Obadiah is no different.

Obadiah is God’s message against the nation of Edom. They, along with many others nations (including God’s people, the Israelites) have rebelled against God and, as a result, are facing God’s judgement. It’s a hard message, but it’s one that sheds light on the good news about who God is and what he has done.

Part 1 - The Untouchables

The Joy of (other people’s) Pain

On the day that you stood aloof, on the day that strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them. But do not gloat over the day of your brother in the day of his misfortune; do not rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their ruin; do not boast in the day of distress.
(Obadiah 11-12, ESV)

The Edomites’ sin is spelled out in detail. They have been violent against their “brother”, Israel, a nation with which they share common ancestors. They have helped themselves at the expense of other people. When the Edomites witnessed God’s judgement occurring on Israel (being conquered and carried off into exile), they stood aloof, gloating, rejoicing and boasting. It even seems as if they went out of their way to make sure no one escaped this disaster (v14).

Does this cut us to the heart? Do I recognise my own tendency to take pleasure when things go badly for others. Schadenfreude - our pleasure in others’ misfortune - is what drives reality tv, non-stop celebrity coverage and the majority of gossip in the office.

Does it make me feel better about myself. Do I think they deserve it and I don’t?

“Edom should have seen God's judgment on Judah and trembled. She should have humbled herself and repented of her own pride and cried out to the Lord for mercy, lest she fall prey to a similar fate” John Piper

I don’t deserve anything good from God, the only reason why I am not rejected by Him is because Jesus was rejected. The only reason I am not cursed is because Jesus was. The only reason I am not dead is because He died in my place.