Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Actions Have Consequences - The Problem of Pride

Although the book of Obadiah is a short book (it's only 21 verses long), there are ageless lessons we can learn from Edom. Edom had sown violence, but there was a deeper problem than just the actions it took. Edom's decisions were marked by pride. Part of this was understandable. Edom’s geographical situation rendered it almost invincible. It was mountainous, inaccessible, and easily defended.

Edom rested in its fortified security.

Edom’s capital city, Petra, was “considered impregnable because it was cut into a solid rock cliff and set in a canyon that could be entered only through a narrow gap” (Life Application Study Bible). Therefore, Edom boasted, “who shall bring me down to the ground?” Obadiah thus likens them to the eagle who builds its nest on top of the mountain. Edom was convinced that it was incapable of being destroyed.
It is easy for us to rely upon our own strength. We, like Edom, exalt ourselves and consider ourselves to be invincible. However, we forget that God is in ultimate control over everything. We forget that “not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up, but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another” (Psalm 75:6-7).

Edom rested in its wealth.

Edom was a prosperous land. Its location was at the crossroads of the trade routes that ran from Egypt to Babylon and Assyria. As such, Edom was made rich through taxes and the trade that took place. Edom thought it was secure in this position of wealth. In our modern western society where we are well-off materially, we tend to think that we are secure in our wealth. We do not think that anything can happen to our prosperity. We forget that once again, that God is the One Who controls both wealth and prosperity. An instantaneous change of fortune often comes with natural disasters. This past calendar year has seen great destruction of fortune – from one day to the next – within our own country from coast to coast: hurricane damage, forest fires, drought, and flooding.

Edom rested in its allies and treaties.

Edom had made treaties with the nations around it. They were at peace with these nations. They had even – according to the custom of the day – eaten bread together. This eating of bread together was a commitment of extreme loyalty to provide protection and defense for one another. Picture a young child in elementary school who has made a “pact” with his best friend that whenever the older kids come to pick on him, they will stand together against the older kids. That kid is relying on his friend to help him in his time of need. And yet, just as Edom was to find out, promises of friendship do not always hold. When that same child then faces the older bullies and his friend does not come to his aid, he will experience only a portion of the betrayal that the Edomites experienced.

Edom rested in its wisdom.

Edom boasted of wise men. Teman was one of Edom’s major cities. It was also the home city of Eliphaz, one of Job’s friends (Job 2:11). The wisdom of Edom was noted and known throughout the surrounding countries. And yet, “there is a difference . . . between man’s wisdom and God’s wisdom. The Edomites may have been wise in the ways of the world, but they were foolish because they ignored and even mocked God” (Life Application Study Bible). Often we rest in our own wisdom or in the wisdom of the world around us. We are tempted to take the truths of the Bible and mix them with the wisdom of the world. One area in which this takes place that comes to mind is the realm of counseling. Many Christians today are convinced that they need to not only take what the Bible teaches to solve their problems but that they also need the teaching of the modern psychology movement to help them with the difficulties of life. However, relying upon the wisdom of the world will bring us to ruin just as surely as it brought the Edomites to ruin.

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