4. Nothing to Prove: Obadiah
God’s love and exaltation in Christ gives us an unshakeable confidence: we have nothing left to prove!
And the exiles of this host of the sons of Israel,
Who are among the Canaanites as far as Zarephath,
And the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad
Will possess the cities of the Negev.
The deliverers will ascend Mount Zion
To judge the mountain of Esau,
And the kingdom will be the Lord’s.
The message of Obadiah centers on the nation of Edom, a neighboring nation to Israel. Edom and Israel have a long history of conflict, going all the way back to the twin founders of the two nations.
At this point in Israel’s history, Babylon has invaded the nation and carried them into exile away from their land. But rather than helping their distant relatives, Edom has taken advantage of Israel’s vulnerable state, plundering their cities and abusing their refugees.
Through the prophet Obadiah, God proclaims judgment against Edom for their offense against his people. “As you have done to Israel, so it will be done to you,” God says.
In God’s message to Edom, we learn that pride is at the heart of their sin. God says to them, “The arrogance of your heart has deceived you, You who live in the clefts of the rock, In the loftiness of your dwelling place, Who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to earth?’ Though you build high like the eagle, Though you set your nest among the stars, From there I will bring you down.”
Though this book focuses on the fall of just one nation, Edom’s fall represents the future fall of all prideful nations! “For the day of the Lord draws near on all the nations,” Obadiah verse 15 says. According to Obadiah, God will one day establish his kingdom over all nations, bringing down the arrogant and prideful. But he will also exalt, or lift up, the humble and faithful, those who know God’s grace is a gift they didn’t deserve and who live in light of his love. Instead of continuing the cycle of pride and violence, Obadiah says the humble will rule justly with God in his kingdom forever.
This prophesied day was inaugurated by Jesus himself! Perfectly embodying the humility espoused in Obadiah, Jesus took on our humanity, coming to Earth not to be served but to serve. He lowered himself to the point of dying a death he didn’t deserve that we might be lifted up from our spiritual deadness to life. After Jesus rose from the dead, God “highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name” (Philippians 2:9).
Like Edom, we were all once God’s enemies, intent on building our own kingdoms. But Christ loved us, pursued us, and opened up reconciliation to God on the cross! The only qualification for salvation is to humbly accept God’s grace to cover our sin and credit us with Christ’s perfection. Those in Jesus live as members of God’s kingdom, no longer boasting in themselves, but only in the cross of Christ.
Humility can be hard because it means letting go of our desire to prove ourselves. It means giving up our control and trusting that God already loves us and accepts us fully in Christ; and it means believing that this love is enough!
God hates arrogance, not because he wants his people to be weak, but because he wants them to be strong in him! Receiving God’s love and exaltation in Christ gives us an unshakeable confidence: we have nothing left to prove!
For those who walk the path of humility, the reward of peace abounds. The humble are freed from the wearing compulsion to rack up achievements and accolades to make a name for themselves. They are freed from the never-ending work of attracting praise and admiration from others to build themselves up. They are freed to joyfully serve others as they help build God’s kingdom, adorned with praise from God himself.
RESPOND: In what ways might you be trying to prove yourself? To God, to others, or even to yourself? Take a moment to go to God and thank him for already accepting and exalting you in Christ.