Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Actions Have Consequences - Actions to Avoid

Actions have consequences. Even science teaches this concept. Isaac Newton’s third law of physics states that for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. The Bible reaffirms this truth. In Galatians 6:7-9 Paul states the following, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” The book of Obadiah, although short in its length, yet is still powerful in its content as it teaches the principle of sowing and reaping. It proclaims God’s prophetic statement to Edom that wickedness and evil will bring destruction. From our vantage point, looking back at the records of history, we can see the veracity of God’s proclamation being affirmed by the historical documentation. Edom serves us as an example that God’s justice demands retribution.

Edom sowed violence.

God declares in these verses the actions which Edom sowed. Edom consisted of the descendents of Esau, Jacob’s brother. God had commanded the Israelites to “not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother” (Deuteronomy 23:7). However, the Edomites themselves disregarded this familial tie and instead sided with Israel’s enemies against her. The exact historical event to which Obadiah refers is debated. The two most likely events are either the attack upon King Jehoram and Jerusalem recorded in 2 Chronicles 21 or the Babylonian invasion as chronicled in 2 Kings 25. Regardless of the date, Edom responded to Israel with harsh violence.

Edom rejoiced over Israel’s calamity.

The phrase “looked on the day of your brother” has been in some cases taken to mean gloating; however, the phrase can also simply mean “looked on.” The immediate context, on the other hand, seems to support the idea of rejoicing and boasting. In other words, Edom actually took joy in the severe affliction that Israel faced. For us it is very often easy to fall into this very same trap. We see someone around us who maybe has done us some wrong, or who simply maybe has a position that we desire and when that person falls on hard times, our first response is to rejoice over that difficulty.

Edom plundered Israel.

In Israel’s weakness, Edom went in and took of Israel’s property or wealth, availing itself of what was perceived to be an opportunity. We are no foreigners to this concept. Many times in the workplace it seems as if the only way to advance is by taking advantage of the weaknesses or setbacks of others. This however, falls into the same category as the actions of the Edomites. God does not endorse the act of taking advantage of others in their weakness. Rather, He teaches us that we should help those in need. We need to be sowing helpfulness rather than the act of taking advantage of others.

Edom captured Israel’s fugitives.

Edom placed its armed men at the crossroads leading out of Israel – possibly those leading into the mountains, where the Israelites would have hoped to find shelter – and captured those Israelites that had escaped from the invading army. And then, in cruel mockery to these fugitives, the Edomites turned around and delivered them back over to the very army from which they had been fleeing.
Edom was supposed to be supporting Israel; instead, it betrayed it by delivering its fugitives back over to the enemy. Picture this modern day example: a young woman has been ravaged by the effects of alcohol. Through God’s grace she comes to know the Savior and with that the grace to overcome the addiction that has taken such hold on her life. But, her friends who are still in the throes of the addiction wear on her to come back and “just try a little bit.” And, before she knows it, she has fallen harder into the addiction than ever before. This is somewhat of the sense of the traitorous actions that Edom demonstrated.

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