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Today, we’re coming to the final two self-protective sinful strategies of the Edomites and possibly us! They are wisdom and strength. Here’s Obadiah 8-9:
“Will I not on that day,” declares the Lord,
“ Destroy wise men from Edom
And understanding from the mountain of Esau?
“Then your mighty men will be dismayed, O Teman,
So that everyone may be cut off from the mountain of Esau by slaughter.
Do you remember Eliphaz, the chief of Job’s “friends”? He was a Temanite. The capital city of Teman, mentioned in verse 9, was named after the grandson of Esau and is located in the southern portion of Edom. The Edomites, including the Temanites, were famous for their wisdom.
In fact, even Jeremiah talks about the wisdom of the Temanites/Edomites in Jeremiah 49:7:
Thus says the Lord of hosts,
“Is there no longer any wisdom in Teman?
Has good counsel been lost to the prudent?
Has their wisdom decayed?
The Temanites were also recognized for their courage. The Edomites felt secure in both their wise men and their mighty men.
The other self-protective sinful strategies the Edomites had (pride, geographical protection, wealth, and alliances) are easy to spot as sinful. Wisdom and strength/might don’t seem quite so obviously sinful. After all, aren’t those good things? God calls us to have wisdom and even says He’ll respond to a request for wisdom (James 1:5). We are supposed to be strong in the Lord and Philippians 4:13 says we can do all things through Christ.
It shouldn’t surprise us, though, that what can be “good” and even valued in us as Christians can also become a sinful strategy. It’s dependent, as I’ve said before, upon our heart. What is our motive? Are we depending upon the “smarts” and “might” instead of the Lord? That’s the key. Am I thinking:
- “If I get my degree, I’m guaranteed a good job.”
- “If I do my exercises, I’m guaranteed I’ll protect my body from getting hurt.”
- “If I have my quiet time, temptation won’t overwhelm me.”
All those things are “good,” but if we are depending upon them as guarantees, then it becomes a sinful strategy. Wonder if God would receive more glory through our joblessness? Wonder if God would receive more praise through injury? Wonder if we’ll depend upon God more through being tempted?
The wisdom of God is upside down from this world’s wisdom. God’s kind of might and strength are upside down from this world’s might and strength. The first shall be last; the last will be first. Jesus came as a servant, even though He is a ruler. God calls us to do nothing to earn salvation, He offers it as a free gift in Christ. The humble shall be lifted up and the proud dismayed.
God’s way seems strange to us because we can so easily be swayed by the world’s messages. And that’s why we need to pay attention to what is happening in our lives now. Do you remember where this journey into the self-protective sinful strategies started? In
Galatians 6:7,“Do notbe deceived,God isnot mocked;for whatevera mansows, thishe willalso reap.” Then we went to Obadiah 15: “For theday ofthe Lorddraws nearon allthe nations.As youhave done,it willbe doneto you.Your dealingswill returnon yourown head.”
Because we can be swayed, even deceived, by the world’s “wisdom” and “might,” we need to pay attention to the challenges and situations God is allowing in our lives. They may be pointing us to some hidden strategy we are protecting. We looked at examples like:
A manfaces thecontempt ofa friendwho willnot forgive;it turnsout hehas alot ofbitterness inhis ownlife.
A womancan’t understandthe angerof afamily membertoward her;yet sheis angrywith afriend fromthe past.
A manhas asuper-critical bosswho isnever satisfiedwith hiswork; yethis childrenwould sayhe stillhasn’t acceptedthem intheir imperfections.
Now we can more easily identify whether they are pointing us to the possible self-protective sinful strategies of:
- physical or geographical location
- alliances/friends/People Pleasing
Thank you for walking this journey with me. Who would have thought the one chapter book of Obadiah would have reaped so much to consider?
Oh Lord, open our eyes to the self-protective sinful strategies that we depend upon instead of You. Thank you that you are always wanting to forgive us and cleanse us. To know that there is no condemnation even when we struggle is so comforting. We praise You for your gracious mercy and love. Strengthen us with your might and give us your kind of wisdom. May you be glorified through it all. I pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.