Obadiah, Edom and modern Israel

Last week, I put together a short study on the book of Obadiah. By some accounts, it is the least popular book of the Bible—although that is based on the number of searches on a website. Still, with the exception of Jonah, the 12 prophets or the minor prophets section of the Old Testament tends to be the least read among Christians.

Obadiah is a very short book, the 4th shortest in the canon. It is a prophecy given to the people of Edom warning them of their destruction for their role in the sacking of Jerusalem.

The Edomites were guilty of arrogance and gloating over the misfortunes of others. I’ve talked previously about Jeremiah 29 and the context of the prosperity passages people love to quote. God does have a purpose for struggle and he does intend good for you. Jeremiah 29 is written to the people taken in exile after the attack on Jerusalem. God had a purpose for that too.

The message to Edom, apparently written about their role in the events, is simple. Even though God has a purpose for someone’s struggle, you are not to rejoice in someone’s misfortune. The Edomites did not rush to help their brothers (Deuteronomy 23:7–8)  and participated in the looting of the city.

The simple spiritual lesson, as usual, can point back to the golden rule—treat others as you wish to be treated. Rather than gloat over someone’s misfortune, pray for their success and well-being. If the Edomites had treated their brothers properly, they might still exist today. Instead, the land of Edom is divided—just as scripture said it would be—into the southern parts of Israel and Jordan.

Always lift up other people in prayer and bless them—even if you are in conflict with them.

***

This past week, the Prime Minister of Israel spoke to congress. Many people watched in support and many others expressed anger and hatred toward him. Some will say that the modern nation of Israel has no connection to the Biblical Israel—historically or prophetically. I disagree.

No matter what you believe, the people of Israel—like people everywhere—should have the ability to live in peace.

I have seen many people, mostly on one side of the imaginary political divide, cheering for Israel’s harm in recent days. I don’t understand this idea. From the Biblical standpoint, taking sides against Israel has never been a wise move. Even if you don’t believe the modern nation is the same, you should still be praying for peace. There is a very good chance that our government will betray an ally before this story is over. As Christians, we should pray for blessings for all people involved.

Some will have difficulty with this. Praying for the blessing of others is hard but your prayers are the beliefs you hold in your heart. If hatred prevents you from blessing others, that is your spiritual problem and has nothing to do with them.

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