"..Yet in My Flesh I Will See GOD" [Job. 19.26]

Monday, March 28, 2011

Obadiah: When Your Brother is Under Discipline

God at times disciplines and punishes his own people. Israel was severely punished in the time of Obadiah. The story teaches us what God expects of us when we see our brothers under discipline by God. 

Edom took advantage of Israel's downfall when enemies were attacking her, as God had permitted it to be so. God's design was three-fold: to discipline Israel, to watch how Edom would react, and to see how Israel's enemies would carry out the sentence.

Edom screwed up. Instead of helping their brother Israelites, they "were like one of" the enemies. Here are 10 ways how Edom failed the test [verses 10-14]:
  1. The Edomites were violent towards Israel.
  2. They stood aloof while Israel was being slaughtered by the enemy.
  3. They looked down on their brothers when they were being punished.
  4. They rejoiced at Judah's downfall. 
  5. They boasted while their brothers suffered humiliation.
  6. They charged through the gates of their brothers.
  7. They looked down on them while they suffered calamities.
  8. They seized their wealth.
  9. They murdered Israelites who were trying to escape their enemies.
  10. They handed the survivors over to the enemy.
There are a lot of backsliders today, and a lot of them are even performing good in churches, being placed in high positions, even given titles and degrees. But so few are under God's discipline...at the moment. 

A lot seem to go on with wickedness unchecked, but God has a time table. His mercy waits for the wicked to repent, not wanting that any should perish. But when time's up, God surely executes strict judgment. Some wicked people are even blessed by God while they soak in foolish and blatant sins, becoming "powerful and rich, becoming fat and sleek" [Jer.5.27-18]. This is among God's ways of calling the wicked's attention to His grace and mercy.

Then, when God finally executes judgment on the unrepentant brethren, we should not rejoice over their fate as Edom had. We should help them through prayers. 

God allows the enemy to destroy His people who have messed up with sin and remain stiff-necked. This is part of His love and justice. We who are spared the punishment should make sure that we do not take part in what the enemy is allowed to do temporarily. We should understand that the punishment is needed to purge sins from the strayed brethren, but we should not rejoice over it.

In the end, after the harsh disciplining and when the erring brethren have repented, God will avenge them and punish the enemy who had destroyed them. In the end, it's always God and His people who wins, and it's the enemy (and those who stubbornly side with him) who ends up demolished.

Praise be to God!