Nauseating Neutrality

Obadiah 11: " In that day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that the strangers
carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots of upon
Jerusalem even thou wast as one of them
."

Scholars have not really known what to do with the Book of Obadiah.
To some, it is an "indignant oration" while to others it is a "Hymn of Hate."
This is not a fair appraisal of Obadiah.
Obadiah was filled with righteous indignation.

The Edomites had failed to help the Israelites when the city of Jerusalem was attacked
by a foreign power.
More than that, Edom probably gloated sense the prophet said,
"Neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of the stress." (Obadiah 12)

Bad blood had existed between Edom (the descendants of Esau) and Israel
(descendants of Jacob) for many centuries.
Several times the armies had marched back and forth from one country to another.
However, this time the Edomites merely looked on as some other enemy attacked the Israelites.

Righteous Indignation

Of course it is wrong to hate!
There is never any justification for showing any spirit toward someone except that of love.
On the other hand, we are justified in properly evaluating the attitude of people toward God's laws
and making some value judgments.

Obadiah was God's prophet.
He saw the proud Edomites, who were nestled safely in the mountains where no enemy could
reach them, make no attempt to help when the Jews were attacked.
Perhaps they rationalized by saying, " We've not hurt any one. We simply didn't want to get involved."

Obadiah fell strongly about their neutrality.
He would have agreed with the modern poet who said:
"I never cut my neighbors throat;
My neighbors gold, I never stole.
I never spoiled his house or land
But God have mercy on my soul!

For I am haunted night and day
By all the deeds I have not done.
Oh unattended loveliness!
Oh costly valour never won
!"

Entrenched Evil Will Be Brought Down

The Edomites were a race of bandits who lived among the rocky crags and natural fortresses
of the area around the Dead Sea.
They would swoop down upon a trading caravan, plunder it, and retreat to the security
provided by the mountains.
They were constantly watching for any one, even straggling Israelites, and, striking like an eagle
upon its prey, dash swiftly upon them in murderous hate.

Who are of the Edomites of our day?
They are the ones safely entrenched in positions of security who come out long enough
to engage in crooked and dishonest practices, crimes, vicious drug rings,
all types of commercialized vice and all types of wickedness that destroys society.

They are arrogant!
They firmly hold the destiny of many people, and grip a city, country, or even a nation tightly in their clutches.
The forces of decency seem impotent before them.

Let me ask some probing questions.
Have you ever seen a fellow human being in need, but willfully ignored what you could do to help?
Have you witnessed someone who was the target of abuse and not only did not defend them,
but actually joined in the meanness?

Have you ever stood by and did nothing when you knew that wrong was being done?
Have you ever stood by silently while the name of God was dragged through the mud or watched
as co-workers stole from the company?

Have you ever been swept up in the competition of the moment and found yourself becoming
just as much a savage as those who were around you?
Think about a football game when you find yourself screaming for your team to "get" the opposing player.

Have you ever smirked (publicly or privately), when someone you disliked faced a difficult time in their life?
Did you feel that they finally got what was coming to them?

Perhaps, a popular student got in trouble, and was caught and imprisoned.
Instead of feeling sorrow, you were glad.

Perhaps a co-worker was laid off, and you felt a quiet satisfaction that it wasn't you.
Maybe a friend, who seemed to have everything, ran into some very hard times,
and instead of extending a hand you thought, "now they know what life is like for the rest of us."

Maybe you felt a quiet satisfaction when another church (the competition) was experiencing conflict.
Instead of praying for the unity of the church, you enjoyed telling others
about their struggles in the hope that it would make your own church look better.

As individuals, it is tempting to shut our eyes to the needs around us.
We can become so absorbed in ourselves that we don't even see those who are around us.
But when we do this, we are just like Edom.

So, you can see that the message of Obadiah is not archaic and outdated.
This message is just as powerful and pertinent today as it has ever been.
It is a call for you and me to remember who we belong to.
We are called to remember that our job is not to climb over others . . . our job is work together.

God has a word for these types of people.
He spoke these words through Obadiah, "Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle,
and though thou set by thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord
."
(Obadiah 4)

The Source Is Pride

In verse 3 we are told that Edom's pride is the main sin that led them astray.
Edom was proud of many things.

They were proud of their wealth. (v. 5-6)
Edom was a fairly fertile terrain, and it was the center of a great copper industry.
The major trade routes of the world went through Edom.
Anyone who wanted to trade in Egypt had to travel through Edom.
Consequently, Edom was able to control and tax all the commerce that came through them.
We say that the key to a good business today is "location, location, location."
Edom had a great location.

Edom was also proud of their alliances. (v.7)
Edom was situated strategically so all the surrounding nations had to maintain good relations
with the Edomites.
These alliances made Edom feel quite secure.

They were also proud of their wisdom. (v. 8-9)
Apparently, Edom was a country of learned people.
Because they were on the trade route, they encountered learned men of many different lands.

Edom was also proud because they were strong, rich, smart, and had many powerful friends.
How many people (and nations) do you know who are filled with pride for some of the same reasons?
When a nation becomes too proud, it will be brought down just like Edom was.

They were proud of their security
Edom was a strong nation, and were very sure of themselves.
Edom's dwelling seemed impregnable.
This fostered their pride and their arrogant self confidence.
Those who think they cannot be "touched" by the limitations of humanity often do terrible things.

The proud person is presumptuous.
He says, "Who shall bring me down to the ground?" (Obadiah 3)
But God says that He will "destroy the wise men out of Edom." (Obadiah 8)

No one is big enough to shake his fist in the face of God, and ignore His laws.
God is present in the every day affairs of men.
All men are subject to His law.
He sees every violation of both law and duty.

Some may imagine that they can actively pursue wickedness, or look on with indifference
when the rights of others are violated, but God will, in His time, rectify all matters.

As Christians, we must learn that if there is any area of our life where we think
that we've got what it takes to do without God, it is in that same area
that we are manifesting the flesh, the pride of Edom.

When you step into your office on Monday morning, and you have been a fine Christian on Sunday
and all through the weekend, but on Monday morning you say,
"Now, I am in charge. I know what to do here. I don't need the Bible. I don't need God.
I don't need God to help me. I know exactly how to run this business
,"
then, you are manifesting this same spirit of Edom, this spirit of self-sufficiency.

In many areas of their lives Christians live as though God were dead.
They believe in God, but live as though he were dead, they live without any sense of dependency
upon his wisdom and his strength.
We need to understand who we are, and who God is.

Theodore Roosevelt and his friend, William Beebe, performed a ritual each night before going to bed.
They would scan the night sky until they found the constellation, Pegasus.
Once they located it, they looked for a small speck of light nearby and began to chant:
"That is the Spiral Galaxy of Andromeda.
It is as large as our Milky Way.
It is one of a hundred million galaxies.
It consists of one hundred billion suns, each one larger than our sun
."

Then, Roosevelt would turn to Beebe and say,
"Now I think we are small enough. Let's go to bed."

Perspective is often the first step to gaining humility.

The nation of Edom -- the descendants of Jacob's brother Esau -- badly needed
that perspective in Obadiah's day.
Edom had been the enemies of Israel from its inception.

When Moses asked to pass through Edomite territory in peace before beginning Israel's conquest
of the land of Canaan, he was refused, and Edomites even brought out their large army
to prevent Israel from entering their land (Num. 20:14–21).

Obadiah said that the day of the Lord was near and "as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee;
thy reward shall return upon thine own head
." (Obadiah 15)

The Kingdom Is Coming

Although God seems at times to delay His work, He will, in His good time,
see to it that His people shall "possess their possessions." (Obadiah 17)

The enemy may actively oppose God's people, or harm them by simply failing to come
when they need help.
Either is despicable in God's sight, and both will be punished.
Actually, the neutral person is never completely neutral.

A close reading of verse 10 through 14 shows that Edom was more than neutral.
She antagonized, irritated, and actually worked against Israel.
It's that way every time.

But God always has the last word!
The prophet says that "upon mount Zion shall be deliverance." (Obadiah 17)
Of course, the greatest fulfillment of that verse is the deliverance from sin that was wrought
by Jesus when he died on the hill of Calvary "Outside the city wall."

God's people will eventually win the victory!
We must trust Him, and remain faithful!

Are people mistreating you?
Are you suffering because of your loyalty to God?
If so, wait, and you will see God's deliverance.

When you are depressed, read this little book.
Underline the passages that emphasizes the truth of God's faithfulness to His people.
Never despair!
Those who actively oppose you or remain neutral when they could have helped you,
will not win the victory.
God will win the victory, and you will also, if you are on His side, and seeking to do His will.

Sermon adapted from several resources by Dr. Harold L. White