Saturday, September 3, 2011

Saturday, September 3-guest post by Pamela

Today's reading from the Chronological OT/NT Reading Plan is 2 Chronicles 21; Obadiah; 2 Corinthians 8

I'd like to focus on Obadiah today because I liked the thoughts on it that preceded that book in Conrad's study Bible. I think that sometimes in the grand scheme of life, we can feel insignificant and small. The book of the Obadiah has just 21 verses and may appear insignificant and small when we take the Bible as a whole. However:

"No part of the Bible, however short, is without significance. Even the brief walk on appearance of the prophet Obadiah has its place. It was Obadiah's assignment to give voice to God's word of judgement against Edom.

In the early stages of Biblical narrative, we are told the story of the twins Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25-36). They came out of the womb fighting. Jacob was ancestor to the people of Israel; Esau was the ancestor to the people of Edom. The two neighbouring peoples, Israel (who lived mostly to the west of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea) and Edom (who lived to the southeast) never did get along. They had a long history of war and rivalry. When Israel was taken into exile-first the northern kingdom by the Assyrians in 721 BC and later the southern kingdom by the Babylonians in 586 BC- Edom stood across the fence and watched, glad to see her old relative get beat up.

At first reading, the brief but intense prophecy of Obadiah, targeted at Edom, is a broadside indictment of Edom's cruel injustice to God's chosen people. Edom is the villain and God's covenant people the victim.

But the last line of the prophecy takes a giant step out of the centuries of hate and rivalry and invective. It is suddenly revealed that to Israel, so often a victim of Edomite aggression, is to be saved from the injustices of the past and take up a position of rule over their ancient enemies, the Edomites. However, instead of doing to others what had been done to them and continuing the cycle of violence they had been caught in, they are to take over the reins of government and administer God's justice. They find themselves in a new kingdom-God's kingdom-and realize they have a new vocation-to represent God's rule. It is not much (one verse out of 21!) but it is a glimmer and it is the final verse.

On the day of judgement, dark retaliation and invective do not get the last word. Only the first rays of the light of justice appear here. But these rays will eventually make up a kingdom of light, in which all nations will be judged justly from the eternal throne in heaven."

I'm sure we have all felt pushed down by various circumstances in our lives. We've probably even felt the sting of others who have seen our struggles and been cocky in their responses to us. It is often hard during troubled times to get up, dust ourselves off, and keep going. We have probably regrettably been on the other side too where we feel that we do have it under control and it is us with the attitude that we do not have to rely on God because everything is going great. The book of Obadiah addresses both sides of this- a warning to those who think they are untouchable and hope for those that think circumstances are more than they can bear. Did you know that 21 verses could hold so much? I didn't.

No matter what our circumstances right now, ultimately God is in control and Obadiah reminds us of this fact. Whether we think we have it all together and we whether we think we are at the top of the world like the Edomites thought-God is in control. Whether we feel we have been conquered by others and whether we think there can be no positive outcome to our situation-God is in control. What a great and timely reminder for me and I hope it has been an encouragement to you as well today.

Tomorrow's passage: 2 Chronicles 22 - Joel 1 - 2 Corinthians 9


TammyIsBlessed said...

To me this is also a reminder of God's protection for those He loves. Yes, this was specifically about Israel - but we gentiles have been grafted into the line of Judah as well through Christ, and so this covers us as well!

Thanks Pam - great thoughts today.

TammyIsBlessed said...

A quick thought on 2 Chronicles 21 it says that Jehoshaphat gave the kingdom to Jehoram because he was his firstborn son. Clearly, he made the wrong choice, and clearly the choice was based on the wrong criteria. Why did he not ask God who to place on the throne? A great reminder that "that's the way it's done" is not a good reason to do something.