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Obadiah

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OTI-31

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Imagine that your city had been surrounded by a brutal enemy.  One dark night you manage to escape, and you find yourself out of danger, at least for a moment.  Suddenly out of the darkness an unknown enemy pounces on you and drags you back to the city to be sold into slavery by your original captors.  Only in the morning light are you aware that the heartless bounty hunter is your own cousin!  This is the story of Obadiah. The enemy was Assyria; the victims, the Israelites; and the bounty hunters, the Edomites.  Both Edom and Israel were related, being descendants of Jacob[1].

Between[2] the Gulf of Akaba and the Dead Sea lies a range of precipitous red sandstone heights, known as Mount Seir.  Here Esau settled after he had despised his birthright, and his descendants, having driven out the Horites (Gen. 15:. 6), occupied the whole of the mountain (Dent. 2:. 12).  The capital city Selah, or Petra, ” Rock,” was a city unique of its kind amid the works of man.  Perched like an eagle’s nest (ver. 4) amid inaccessible mountain fortresses, the dwellings were mostly caves, hewn out of the soft rock (ver. 3, 6), and placed where you could scarce imagine a human foot could climb.

Against this people the prophecy of the unknown prophet Obadiah, ” a worshipper of Jehovah,” was  directed. To Israel God had commanded (Deut. xxiii. 7), “Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother.” But Edom had shown an implacable hatred to Israel from the time that he refused him a passage through his country on the way from Egypt to Canaan (Num. xx. 14-21) to the day of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, when Edom malignantly cried “Rase it, rase it” (Ps. cxxxvii. 7).For his pride and cruel hatred the total destruction of Edom was decreed (ver. 3, 4, 10).  The people were driven from their rocky home five years after the destruction of Jerusalem, when Nebuchadnezzar, passing down the valley of Artbah, which formed the military road to Egypt, crushed the Edomites.  They lost their existence as a nation about a century and a half B.C., and their name perished at the capture of Jerusalem by the Romans.  “As thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee.” (John 5:29)

The story of Esau[3] and Jacob is that of twin brothers, sons of Isaac and Rebekah.  They were not identical twins, actually they were opposites (seeGen. 25:24-34).  Esau despised his birthright.  The man who had the birthright was in contact with God, he was the priest of his family, he was the man who had a covenant from God, the man who had a relationship with God.  In effect Esau said, “I would rather have a bowl of soup than have a relationship with God.  “Having seen Esau in the first book of the Old Testament, look now at the last book of the Old Testament and read this strange language: I have loved you, saith the LORD.  Yet ye say, In what way hast thou loved us?  Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD; yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau… [Mal. 1:2,3a]. This is a strange thing for God to say – “I loved Jacob and I hated Esau.” The explanation is in the little book of Obadiah.

Verse 6 is translated by Ginsburg, the Hebrew scholar, thus: “How are the things of Esau stripped bare!  ” They are laid out in the open for us to look at for the first time.  Obadiah puts the microscope down on Esau, and when we look through the eyepiece we see Edom.  As we inflate a tire tube to find a leak, and cannot find that leak until it is inflated, just so Obadiah presents Esau inflated so that we can see the flaw in his life.  What was small in Esau is now magnified 100,000 times in the nation.  God did not say at the beginning that He hated Esau, it was not until he became a nation, and revealed the thing that caused God to hate him (v. 3): The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou who dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high, who saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?

It was pride.  “Pride hath deceived you,” God says to Edom.

Someone has wisely written,

The cross of popular evangelicalism is not the cross of the New Testament. It is, rather, a bright ornament upon the bosom of the self-assured and carnal Christian whose hands are indeed the hands of Abel, but whose voice is the voice of Cain. The old cross slew men; the new cross entertains them. The old cross condemns; the new cross assures. The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh; the new cross encourages it. The old cross brought tears and blood; the new cross brings laughter. The flesh, smiling and confident, preaches and sings about the cross, and before that cross it bows and toward that cross it points with carefully staged histrionics, but upon that cross it will not die and the reproach of that cross it stubbornly refuses to bear.

William Carey, often referred[4] to as the father of modern missions, was a brilliant linguist, responsible for translating parts of the Bible into no fewer than 34 different languages and dialects. He had been raised in a simple home in England and in his early manhood worked as a cobbler. In India he often was ridiculed for his “low” birth and former occupation. At a dinner party one evening a snob said, “I understand, Mister Carey, that you once worked as a shoemaker.” “Oh no, your lordship,” Carey replied, “I was not a shoemaker, only a shoe repairman.”

James Bjoanstad [5] writes:  At one time, most Christians believed that to have a close relationship with God, a person should magnify God, deny himself and the pleasures of this world, repent and confess his sins, and live a holy and separated life.  Their heroes were missionaries who gave up everything to serve God and martyrs who suffered because of their faith. 

            Today, it’s becoming a different story.  Many Christians believe that to have a close relationship with God, a person should realize the importance of himself as God intended, pursue his dreams and aspirations, and become affluent and successful.  Their heroes are those celebrities and self-made individuals who happened to be Christians.

            Behind this new gospel stands a variety of distinguished teachers, preachers, and evangelists proclaiming a variety of ways to attain prosperity and success.  But examining their theological models and points of emphasis reveals one common element–they are simply not biblical.

I.                     Satan: Father of Pride  The first sin[6] was pride, and every sin after that has been in some way an extension of pride. Pride led the angel Lucifer to exalt himself above his Creator and Lord. Because the bright “star of the morning” continually said, “I will, I will, I will” in opposition to God’s will, he was cast out of heaven (Isa. 14:12–23). Because he said, “I am a god,” the Lord cast him “from the mountain of God” (Ezek. 28:11–19).

A.                 The original sin of Adam and Eve was pride, trusting in their own understanding above God’s (Gen. 3:6–7).

1.                  The writer of Proverbs warns, “When pride comes, then comes dishonor” (11:2), “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling” (16:18), and again “Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, is sin” (21:4).

2.                  Isaiah warned, “The proud look of man will be abased, and the loftiness of man will be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day” (Isa. 2:11; cf. 3:16–26). “Behold, I am against you, O arrogant one,” God declared against Babylon, “For your day has come, the time when I shall punish you. And the arrogant one will stumble and fall with no one to raise him up” (Jer. 50:31–32).

3.                  The last chapter of the Old Testament begins, “For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff” (Mal. 4:1). The Beatitudes begin with “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3), and James assures us that “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6; cf. Ps. 138:6).

B.                 Pride is the supreme temptation from Satan, because pride is at the heart of his own evil nature. Our only protection against pride, and our only source of humility, is a proper view of God. Pride is the sin of competing with God, and humility is the virtue of submitting to His supreme glory.

C.                Pride comes in many forms. We may be tempted to be proud of our abilities, our possessions, our education, our social status, our appearance, our power, and even our biblical knowledge or religious accomplishments. But throughout Scripture the Lord calls His people to humility. “Before honor comes humility” (Prov. 15:33); “The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor and life” (22:4); “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips” (27:2).

D.                Humility produces spiritual blessing. Just as every sin starts in pride, every virtue begins in humility. Humility allows us to see ourselves as we are, because it shows us before God as He is. Just as pride is behind every conflict we have with other people and every problem of fellowship we have with the Lord, so humility is behind every harmonious human relationship, every spiritual success, and every moment of joyous fellowship with the Lord.

II.                   Esau: Student of Pride  look with me at Hebrews 12:16-17.  That there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.

A.                 Perhaps the saddest and most godless person in Scripture outside of Judas is Esau. On the surface, their acts against God do not seem as wicked as those of many brutal and heartless pagans. But the Bible strongly condemns them. They had great light. They had every possible opportunity, as much as any person in their times, of knowing and following God. They knew His word, had heard His promises, had seen His miracles, and had had fellowship with His people; yet with determined willfulness they turned their backs on God and the things of God.

B.                 Esau not only was immoral, but was godless. He had no ethics or faith, no scruples or reverence. He had no regard for the good, the truthful, the divine. He was totally worldly, totally secular, totally profane. Christians are to be vigilant that no persons such as Esau contaminate Christ’s Body. See to it … that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau.

C.                Jacob, Esau’s brother, was not a model of ethics or integrity, but he genuinely valued the things of God. The birthright was precious to him, though he tried to procure it by devious means. He basically trusted God and relied on God; his brother disregarded God and trusted only in himself.

D.                When Esau finally woke up to some extent and realized what he had forsaken, he made a half-hearted attempt to retrieve it. Just because he sought for it with tears does not indicate sincerity or true remorse. He found no place for repentance. He bitterly regretted, but he did not repent. He selfishly wanted God’s blessings, but he did not want God. He had fully apostatized, and was forever outside the pale of God’s grace. He went on “sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth,” and there no longer remained any sacrifice to cover his sins (Heb. 10:26).

E.                 We must be vigilant so that no one turns from the truth, becomes bitter, or follows the course of selfish Esau, who wanted God’s blessing desperately-but not on God’s terms (cf.Mark 10:17-22)[7].

III.                  Edom: Graduate of Pride

A.                 An old problem of bitterness

1.                  The animosity between the Edomites and the Israelites is one of the oldest examples of discord in human relationships. The conflict began with a struggle between Jacob and Esau in the womb of their mother Rebekah (Gen. 25:21-26). Years later, when Esau was hungry, he readily traded his birthright to Jacob for some red stew. For that reason Esau was also called Edom (Gen. 25:30), which means red. Also when Esau was born his skin appeared red (Gen. 25:25). Later Esau moved to the land of Seir (Gen. 36:8-9), the red sandstone area southeast of the Dead Sea. There his descendants, the Edomites, displaced the Horites (Deut. 2:12, 22).

2.                  Edom refused to let the Israelites pass through their land when Israel was on the way to the Promised Land (Num. 20:14-21). But God told Israel not to hate Edom since they were related (Deut. 23:7). However, hostility developed and continued for centuries (Ezek. 35:5). Saul (1 Sam. 14:47), David (2 Sam. 8:13-14), Joab (1 Kings 11:16), and Solomon (1 Kings 11:17-22) all had problems with the sons of Edom. Jehoshaphat of Judah and Joram of Israel joined with Edom in an attack against Moab (2 Kings 3). Also in Jehoshaphat’s reign Edom joined the Ammonites and the Moabites in an attack against Judah, but the attack ended with the Ammonites and Moabites defeating the Edomites (2 Chron. 20:1-2, 10-11, 22-26).

3.                  In the reign of Jehoram, Jehoshaphat’s son, Edom revolted against Judah and crowned their own king (2 Kings 8:20-222 Chron. 21:8). Later Amaziah, king of Judah, crushed Edom, and changed the name of the city Sela to Joktheel (2 Kings 14:72 Chron. 25:11-12). Later Edom attacked Judah during Ahaz’s reign (2 Chron. 28:17). In 586 b.c. Edom encouraged Babylon to destroy Jerusalem (Ps. 137:7).

4.                  In the late sixth or early fifth century B.C. the Nabateans, from northern Arabia, worshipers of gods and goddesses of fertility and the celestial bodies, drove out most of the Edomites (see comments on Obad. 7). Apparently some remained in Edom and were absorbed by the Nabatean Arabs. The Nabateans were the renowned stone-carvers of Petra. The expelled Edomites settled in Idumea, the Greek name for southern Judea. Later (ca. 120 B.C.) the Edomites there, then called Idumeans, were subdued by John Hyrcanus, a Maccabean, who forced them to be circumcised and to follow Judaism (Josephus The Antiquities of the Jews13. 9. 1; 14. 7. 9). Herod the Great, king of Judea from 37 B.C. to 4 B.C., was an Idumean (Edomite).

5.                  The Idumeans joined the Jews in their rebellion against Rome in A.D. 70, but were almost obliterated by Titus, the Roman general. Only a few Idumean refugees escaped. The Edomites then faded from history.

B.                 A History of FALSE SECURITY

1.                  Esau, like Jacob had become a great nation.  The children of Israel had come into the Promised Land, and the children of Esau had gone to the south and east, in the rocky fastness, where in 1812 archaeology discovered a city, Petra, actually hewn out of solid cliffs of rose-colored rock.  It was an impregnable fortress, so safe from attack that Egypt, Babylon and Assyria deposited money there.  Just a handful of men could guard the narrow canyons which form its approaches.

2.                  They were living in a false security.  In their pride they felt that they did not need God anymore, and they bowed Him out of their civilization.  When a mere man, a little creature down here, gets to the place where he says, “I don’t need God,” God says, “That’s what I hate.”

C.                A History of FALSE WISDOM From the human perspective this was not just empty arrogance, for the Edomites really were noted for their wisdom.  For example, Eliphaz, the foremost of job’s friends and the chief representative in that book of human wisdom, was a Temanite; that is, he was from Edom.  Another of job’s friends was a Shuhite, a name that is still given to a mountain in Edom.  Edom is also referred to in the phrase “the men of the East,” whose wisdom in some texts is linked to that of Egypt as the highest of the ancient world.  Thus, in 1 Kings 4:30, we read, “Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the men of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt.” Similarly, Jeremiah 49:7,employing the words of Obadiah, asks, “Is there no longer wisdom in Teman?  Has counsel perished from the prudent?  Has their wisdom decayed?” In this verse, as E. B. Pusey, one of the most valuable commentators on the Minor Prophets, notes, “He speaks as though Edom were a known abode of human wisdom, so that it was strange that it was found there no more.  He speaks of the Edomites as prudent, discriminating, full of judgment, and wonders that counsel should have perished from them.  They had it eminently then, before it perished.  They thought themselves wise; they were thought so; but God took it away at their utmost need.[8]

God: Breaker of Pride

A lesson in Godly Humility: [9]

Humility begins with proper self–awareness, “the virtue,” said Bernard of Clairvaux, “by which a man becomes conscious of his own unworthiness.” It begins with an honest, unadorned, unretouched view of oneself. The first thing the honest person sees in himself is sin, and therefore one of the surest marks of true humility is daily confession of sin. “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8–9). “We are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves,” Paul says; “but when they measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding” (2 Cor. 10:12). It is not only unspiritual but unintelligent to judge ourselves by comparison with others. We all tend to exaggerate our own good qualities and minimize the good qualities of others. Humility takes off our rose–colored glasses and allows us to see ourselves as we really are.

Second, humility involves Christ–awareness. He is the only standard by which righteousness can be judged and by which pleasing God can be judged. Our goal should be no less than “to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6), and Jesus Christ walked in perfection. Only of Jesus has God ever said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well–pleased” (Matt. 3:17). Our business success, fame, education, wealth, personality, good works, or anything else we are or have in ourselves counts for nothing before God. The more we rely on and glory in such things, the greater barrier they become to our communion with God. Every person comes before the Lord with nothing to commend him and everything to condemn him. But when he comes with the spirit of the penitent tax–collector, saying, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner,” God will willingly and lovingly accept him. “For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:13–14).

Third, humility involves God–awareness. As we study His life in the gospels we come to see Jesus more and more in His human perfection—His perfect humility, His perfect submission to the Father, His perfect love, compassion, and wisdom. But beyond His human perfection we also come to see His divine perfection—His limitless power; His knowing the thoughts and heart of every person; and His authority to heal diseases, cast out demons, and even forgive sins. We come to see Jesus Christ as Isaiah saw the Lord, “sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted” and we want to cry out with the seraphim, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory,” and with the prophet himself, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6:1, 3, 5).

Actions that promote the growth of humility:

1.                  REFOCUS: James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. (KJV)  The first step in experiencing humility is to turn our eyes off ourselves and to look to God. When we study His Word, seek His face in prayer, and sincerely desire to be near Him and please Him, we move toward being poor in spirit. It is the vision of the infinitely Holy God in all His sinless purity and perfection that allows us to see ourselves as sinners by contrast. To seek humility, we do not look at ourselves to find the faults, but at God Almighty to behold His perfection.

2.                  REMOVE: Titus 2:12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; (KJV)   We must starve the flesh by removing the things on which it feeds. The essence of the fleshly nature is pride, and to starve the flesh is to remove and avoid those things that promote pride. Rather than looking for praise, compliments, and popularity, we should we be wary of them. Yet because our human sinfulness has a way of turning even the best intentions to its advantage, we need to be careful not to make an issue of avoiding praise and recognition. The evil is not in being given praise but in seeking it and glorying in it. When, without having sought it, we are praised or honored, to ungraciously reject the recognition may be an act of pride rather than of humility.

3.                  REQUEST: 1 Peter 5:5-6     Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: (KJV)  The third and balancing principle in coming to humility is asking God for it. With David we should pray, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10). Humility, like every other good gift, comes only from God. Also as with every other good thing, He is more willing to give it than we are to ask for it, and He stands ready to give it long before we ask for it.

Detecting True Humility:  Thomas Watson gives seven principles we may apply in determining humility.[10]

1.      First, if we are humble we will be weaned from ourselves. We will be able to say with David, “My soul is like a weaned child within me” (Ps. 131:2). One who is poor in spirit loses his serf-preoccupation. Self is nothing, and Christ is everything. Paul’s humility is nowhere more beautifully expressed than in his saying, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20). To the Philippian believers he wrote, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).

2.      Second, humility will lead us to be lost in the wonder of Christ, “with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, … being transformed into the same image from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18). Our satisfaction will be in the prospect of one day being fully in the likeness of our Lord.

3.      Third, we will not complain about our situation, no matter how bad it may become. Because we know we deserve worse than anything we can experience in this life, we will consider no circumstance to be unfair. When tragedy comes we will not say, “Why me, Lord?” When our suffering is for Christ’s sake we not only will not complain or feel ashamed but will glorify God for it (1 Pet. 4:16), knowing that we will “also be glorified with Him” and realizing “that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:17-18).

4.      Fourth, we will more clearly see the strengths and virtues of others as well as our own weaknesses and sins. With “humility of mind” we will “regard one another as more important than [ourselves]” (Phil. 2:3) and will “give preference to one another in honor” (Rom. 12:10).

5.      Fifth, we will spend much time in prayer. Just as the physical beggar begs for physical sustenance, the spiritual beggar begs for spiritual. We will knock often at heavens gate because we are always in need. Like Jacob wrestling with the angel, we will not let go until we are blessed.

6.      Sixth, we will take Christ on His terms, not on ours or any other. We will not try to have Christ while keeping our pride, our pleasures, our covetousness, or our immorality. We will not modify His standards by ecclesiastical traditions or by our own inclinations or persuasions. His Word alone will be our standard. Watson said, “A castle that has long been besieged and is ready to be taken will deliver up on any terms to save their lives. He whose heart has been a garrison for the devil, and has held out long in opposition against Christ, when once God has brought him to poverty of spirit and he sees himself damned without Christ, let God propound what articles he will, he will readily subscribe to them. Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?’” (p. 47).

7.      Seventh, when we are poor in spirit we will praise and thank God for His grace. Nothing more characterizes the humble believer than abounding gratitude to his Lord and Savior. He knows that he has no blessings and no happiness but that which the Father gives in love and grace. He knows that God’s grace is “more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 1:14).

Hoping in the God of Grace:  In their[11] book Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, Paul Brand and Phil Yancey quote from the novelist Frederick Buechner, who wrote: Who could have predicted that God

§         would choose not Esau, the honest and reliable, but Jacob the trickster and heel,

§         that He would put the finger on Noah, who hit the bottle,

§         or on Moses, who was trying to beat the rap in Midian for braining a man in Egypt and if it weren’t for the honor of the thing, he’d just as soon let Aaron go back and face the music, or the prophets, who were a ragged lot, mad as hatters most of them …? the exception seems to be the rule.

§         The first humans God created went out and did the only thing God asked them not to do.

§         The man He chose to head a new nation known as “God’s people” tried to pawn off his wife on an unsuspecting Pharaoh.

§         And the wife herself, when told at the ripe old age of ninety-one that God was ready to deliver the son He had promised her, broke into rasping laughter in the face of God.

§         Rahab, a harlot, became revered for her great faith.

§         And Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, went out of his way to break every proverb he so astutely composed.

§         Even after Jesus came the pattern continued. The two disciples who did most to spread the word after His departure, John and Peter, were the two He had rebuked most often for petty squabbling and muddleheadedness.

§         And the apostle Paul, who wrote more books than any other Bible writer, was selected for the task while kicking up dust whirls from town to town sniffing out Christians to torture. Jesus had nerve, in trusting the high-minded ideals of love and unity and fellowship to this group.

§         No wonder cynics have looked at the church and sighed, “If that group of people is supposed to represent God, I’ll quickly vote against Him.” Or, as Nietzsche expressed it, “His disciples will have to look more saved if I am to believe in their Savior.”

How[12] wonderful that God is more gracious than men. God never excuses disobedience, unfaithfulness, or any other sin. But He will forgive every sin that is placed under the atoning death of His Son, Jesus Christ. Position, prestige, or possessions give no advantage with Him, and lack of those things gives no disadvantage. As Peter learned only after much resistance to the idea, “God is not one to show partiality” (Acts 10:34; cf. 1 Pet. 1:17). In Christ “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female” (Gal. 3:28).

The short Book of Obadiah presents a powerful message. It shows what happens to those who reject God’s Word and His grace, rebelling in foolish pride. During Edom’s prosperity many in Israel could have asked, ”Why do the wicked prosper?“ (cf. Ps. 73:3) But the voice of Obadiah comes thundering through the pages of the Old Testament, and is echoed in the New: ”Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows“ (Gal. 6:7). Obadiah’s words underscore the fact of God’s justice. ”For we know Him who said, ­It is Mine to avenge; I will repay.‘ . . . It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God“ (Heb. 10:30-31). One who responds in obedience to the grace of God has everything to gain, but a person who spurns His grace in pride has everything to lose[13].

But[14] there is this to add.  It is true that the sin of Edom, long indulged, worked itself into the very character of the people and therefore inevitably flowed on in history.  But that same flow of history also brought one who lived by an entirely different standard.

There was a day in history when two kings confronted one another for the first time.  One was an earthly king.  He sat that day at the pinnacle of power.  His name was Herod Antipas.  Herod was a son of Herod the Great, who was an Edomite or (as the New Testament had it) an Idumean.  Herod the Great had slaughtered the babes of Bethlehem in his desire to exterminate Christ.  His sutcessor, Antipas, with whom we are concerned, was no better.  He had beheaded John the Baptist and had been called “that fox” by Jesus (Luke 13:32).  Antipas had everything he wanted.  His income, expressed in American money, would be in excess of 6 million dollars a year.  All the pleasures of life were his.  If anyone stood in his way … well, the life of that person meant as little to him as the lives of the innocents of Bethlehem had meant to his father.  The motto of his reign was: “What will it profit me?”

The other king was Jesus.  He was the King of Kings, one who, according to the flesh, was the natural heir to David’s throne and who, according to His divine nature, was the supreme King over all the kings of this earth.  But He did not look like a king.  He stood in humble clothing.  He had been rejected.  Within hours He was to die a felon’s death. ff Jesus had wished, He could have called forth legions of angels who would have vindicated His cause instantly and have swept the usurper Herod from the throne.  But Jesus did not want the throne in that way.  He did not want the throne until you and I could share it with Him.  To make that possible He would die.

Herod said, “What does it profit me?”  Jesus said, “What can I do that will be the greatest possible benefit to My brethren?” God vindicated Jesus! Jesus went to the cross. He died. But His death was followed by a resurrection, and today He lives to enable those who believe on Him to behave as He did and bring a true, supernatural brotherhood to this world. For his part, Herod went on with his revelry but soon was banished to Lyons, France, where he died in misery[15].   This is the choice before you: to go Herod’s way or Jesus’ way. You cannot do both!


[1] Harold Wilmington, Fund. Journal, p. 54

[2] Christ in all  Scriptures.

[3] J. Vernon Magee, p. 268.

[4] Mac, I Cor 13.

[5] Moody Monthly, 11/86, p. 19-20.

[6] MacArthur, Ehesians 4:2.

[7] MacArthur, John F., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Hebrews 12, (Chicago: Moody Press) 1983.

[8] Pusey, The Minor Prophets, vol. 1, p. 359.

[9] MacArthur, John F., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Ephesians 4, (Chicago: Moody Press) 1983

[10] MacArthur, John F., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Matthew 5, (Chicago: Moody Press) 1983

[11] (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1980, pp. 29-30).

[12] MacArthur, John F., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, (Chicago: Moody Press) 1983.

[13] Walvoord, John F., and Zuck, Roy B., The Bible Knowledge Commentary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Scripture Press Publications, Inc.) 1983, 1985.

[14] J. M. Boice, Minor Prophets, I, 201.

[15] I am indebted for this comparison to a small tract written years ago by Joseph Hoffrnan Cohn for the American Board of Missions to the Jews, entitled “The Man from Petra,” No. 65 in the series “What Every Christian Should Know About the Jews” (revised 1961, no original date of publication).

 
 
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