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Imitating Christ: Obadiah

Ancient city of Petra

April 26, 2023

Praying Friends,

Thank you for praying for our prodigals and for revival. True prayer is a demonstration of humility before God. Don’t give up!

In speaking about humility, Pablo Seguel recently said, “It’s not about me. It’s about imitating Christ. And it’s about others. Christ never used His position to take advantage of others.” How true! May we be more like Him!

The book of Obadiah is a message to the proud of heart. It is the shortest of all the prophetic books with only 21 verses, giving a scathing pronouncement of judgment on the nation of Edom.

Going back to Genesis, Edom was the name given to Esau, the brother of Jacob, after he forfeited his birthright for a bowl of red stew (Genesis 25:30). He had little care for the blessings God had planned for him. According to the Hebrew writer, he was both immoral and unholy (Hebrews 12:16).

His biggest liability was his own proud heart. James, the Apostle, in speaking about God says, “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (James 4:6).

This is what Obadiah emphasizes in his prophecy. God says, “I will make you small…The pride of your heart has deceived you…I will bring you down” (Obadiah 1:2-4).

The ancient city of Petra is one of the great wonders of the world. It is a testament to the skill of human ingenuity with dwellings and temples building into the cliffs, which rise some 700 feet high. The city was a fortress located south of the Dead Sea, which lies in a range of precipitous, red sandstone heights known as Mount Seir. Scholars believe that this is the place where Esau settled, and Edomites occupied the whole mountain. Petra, meaning rock, was their capital. Today it is called the silent city of the forgotten past.

Maybe Obadiah 1:4 is a description of this very place. Sadly, Edom was conceited in his own security and opposed the goodness of God on every turn. He never missed an opportunity to help armies who attacked the Jews. He was violent and cruel, gloating over the misfortune of his brother (Obadiah 1:12).

Interestingly, Herod, who was a descendant of Edomites, was in control of Judea during the time of Christ. He too was a proud man who despised God, and he vanished after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.

Pride will always lead to destruction.

The book of Obadiah is divided into 2 main themes: the doom of the proud (Edom), and the deliverance of the humble (Zion).

The end result is that all nations who oppose the purposes of God will be judged on the day of the Lord (Obadiah 1:15), and God’s people will dwell in the land once occupied by the enemy.

The final verse of this little book reminds us that God has a plan for the future, and the ultimate outcome is that the LORD will reign upon the earth in a coming day. “Saviors shall go up to Mount Zion to rule Mount Esau, and the kingdom shall be the LORD’s” (Obadiah 1:21). This is affirmed by Paul when writing to the Corinthians. “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet” (1 Corinthians 15:25).

There are many practical lessons for us to take from Obadiah, but focus on the fact that God will venerate those who humble themselves under His mighty hand. “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you” (James 4:10).

If we were brutally honest, we would have to acknowledge that pride creeps into our hearts more than we admit. Weeding that out is a difficult, lifelong process. The Christian life is one of progressive sanctification. God is at work within us, shaping, molding, and changing us into the likeness of Jesus. “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

As we submit to His purposes, we will become more humble. If we resist, we will become more Edom-like in character and find ourselves further away from our God rather than closer. May God help us to choose the road less traveled as we walk in step with Him.

Love in Christ,

Bryan and Rachel


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