Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Rock on which You Build -- Obadiah

Of the places I have been fortunate to visit, the ancient city of Petra ranks as one of my favorite. The immensity, detail, and longevity of the structures leaves me awestruck.

At first blush I was amazed at the buildings carved into the sandstone cliffs, but the longer I wandered in and out of the various buildings, walked upon cobblestone streets, or ran my hand along what remained of miles of aqueducts , I became more amazed of the people who built these tremendous buildings.

The tiny book of Obadiah deals with the people who inhabited these cliffs south-east of the Dead Sea. The LORD, through the mouth of the prophet, brings condemnation on the people of Edom. The Edomites, were the descendants of Esau, the brother of Jacob, and thus related, as brothers, to the Nation of Israel. But ever since the "fall-out" between Jacob and Esau in Genesis chapter 25 their has never had a positive relationship with these estranged "brothers." In fact, Edom had a great tendency to kick their brothers whenever they were down. And for this reason God is bringing this message of woe upon the people of Edom.

As you read though this one chapter book, you find that the Edomites lived in the cliffs and thought they were safe in their rock fortresses. The later peoples of the area, most known as the Nabateans where most likely those who built the structures we now know as Petra (ancient Sela). And it was from this people that the family of Herod would arise, and once again bring trouble upon Israel through his rule under the watchful eye of Rome.

As the LORD declared through Obadiah, the people of Edom would be destroyed, even if they built their cities into the rock. Today Edom is no more, the Nabateans are no more, all that remains of this powerful, rich, and creative cultures are crumbling edifices. They built into the rock, but failed to build ON the ROCK.

So too, in our culture today many build into what seems as everlasting rock. We try to establish a place and a name for ourselves, only to find that those rocks can neither hide nor ultimately protect us. It is only the Rock of Ages that will last.

May we all learn to rest upon that Rock.


Anonymous said...

Rock of ages...cleft for ME...let me hide myself IN Thee......there IS no other sure foundation, no other safe "hiding place"...other than the ROCK of AGES...Jesus Christ. All other "foundations and hiding places" crumble in the end. The ROCK of AGES stands firm!
PTL!! Ruthie

Anonymous said...

The Edomites were so filled with pride that they probably felt morally and spiritually superior to their brothers as they watched misfortune befall them. We are told that they rejoiced and gloated at their misfortune. Now, really wwjd? He would not rejoice at anyone's suffering.

It seems they felt that their brethen must have gotten what they had coming to them (just like some of Job’s comforters judged him) and they were smugly certain they didn’t do anything sinful toward their brethren and certain that they were safe in their rock fortresses. But God didn’t see it that way. He says the day they stood by and watched as calamity befell their brothers, they were just like one the foreigners that entered their gates and cast lots for them.

Bringing this teaching into modern day times, I think it is a good example of why we should all hesitate before we judge one another. Discernment of course is essential and must be used, but it can take place without prideful judgment or gloating. We should never even think about joining the world by lowering our own morals or standards, but we should always remember that Jesus came into the world to save the world, not to judge it.

Even if we know that someone has brought misfortune upon themselves – for instance if someone has contracted aids due to promiscuity, we are not to be smug or gloat or say it serves them right because they got what they had coming, and God forbid we should ASSUME that someone probably had misfortune befall them because they must have sinned because I think that God would look upon us if we did that much like he looked upon the Edomites.

Should kind of make ya’all glad the brothers and sisters of FBC went to New Orleans and helped rebuild it instead of just smugly standing by believing that God brought judgment upon those sinful folks down there and they just got what they deserved.

Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy, but the Edomites were not merciful so they did not receive mercy.

Wonder what God has in store for for every person who contributed offering, sweat and/or toil to mercifully reach out to the people of New Orleans?

Anonymous said...

oops. forgot to sign.

Anonymous said...

I think Edom was also one of the countries that refused right of passage through their country to the Israelites during their exodus from Egypt.

Not a nice response to their “brothers’” needs.

Although a couple of million guests for the night may have been considered a bit much to the Edomites.