The writings of the Old Testament Minor Prophets provide some great information as to how God feels and thinks about our dealings with our “brother.” One example is the book of Obadiah.
This very short book, while called a “minor” book, has some major themes. It reveals a message this Old Testament character was given by God concerning the actions of the nation of Edom, the descendants of Esau.
The Edomites were located in a very high and rugged place, among the “clefts of the rocks” (v. 3). They had the confidence they were in a position militarily where no one could “bring them down.” They thought they had found the perfect, secure location. However, God says that He will “bring (them) down” (v. 4). This destruction was not going to be like grape gatherers who would leave part of the grapes for the poor to harvest, but rather it was going to be a total destruction.
Obadiah gives some reasons for Edom’s destruction by God. It can be summarized by saying it was punishment for how they had treated their “brother,” the Israelites, when Jerusalem was being attacked.
The Edomites “stood aloof” while “strangers carried off (Jacob’s) wealth” (v. 11). They joined other nations in casting lots for Israel’s possessions in Jerusalem after the Israelites were taken captive. They rejoiced in the day of Judah’s destruction, they boasted in the day of their distress and even stood at the “fork of the road to cut down the fugitives” (v. 14).
While the habitation of the Edomites will be destroyed, Mount Zion, the mountain of the Israelites, will be a place for those who escape. It will be a “holy” mountain, possessed by “the house of Jacob” (v. 17). “The house of Esau” will be “as stubble,” it will be set “on fire and (consumed) … so that there will be no survivor” (v. 18) of Esau’s house.
This destruction and elimination of the Edomites will be so severe that other nations “will possess the mountain of Esau” (v. 19). On the other hand, there will be those who “ascend Mount Zion to judge the mountain of Esau. And (this) kingdom will be the Lord’s” (v. 20).
The major lesson, we can learn, from this minor prophet is that our behavior is seen by God and regardless of how secure we think we are, God can destroy us. This principle will apply to nations in our day as well as in the days of Obadiah. It will also apply to individuals. So, to avoid this destruction let us all strive to deal with our brother in a righteous manner as we are living God’s way.
Carlton G. McPeak is an evangelist working in the Florida Gateway region. All Scriptural quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Holman Bible Publishers, unless otherwise stated. He may be contacted at email@example.com.