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
Part 2 - The Joy of (other people's) pain
Part 3 - Justice
On your own head
For the day of the LORD is near upon all the nations. As you have done, it shall be done to you; your deeds shall return on your own head.
(Obadiah 15, ESV)
Everybody claims to treat others as they would want to be treated. In reality, we are less concerned about making sure we achieve that than we are about making sure others do the same to us. It’s common to hear people say they don’t regret anything, that they will live with the consequences of their own decisions. Really though, we hate consequences and do our best to avoid them.
Fair consequences are what God promises to the Edomites, and everyone else, on the day of judgement. As I have done, it shall be done to me. My deeds shall return on my own head. Is that really what I want?
I have lived selfishly, but hate it when treated in a selfish way by someone else. I have wanted independence from God, do I really want to take the consequence of that as the source of life grants me the independence to die?
When we think we want this karma, what we actually mean is that we want it for other people. Justice for those who have wronged us, but mercy for ourselves. Regardless of what I want, God is perfectly fair and justice will be done. The consequences for every deed will not disappear. The good news is that I don’t have to take them, Jesus did.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
(Isaiah 53:5 ESV)