Old Wounds Reopened
Heavenly Father, may no dark cloud of doubt or fear turn me aside from walking with You all through today.
Read Obadiah 1:1-14
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9). Jesus gives us a challenging call in the face of hostility.
“The violence against your brother Jacob” (10). Like the reverberation of thunder around the mountains, these words echo across the centuries. The pain of Edom’s betrayal of her neighbor and political relative, as well as her vicious opportunism, cut deep into the heart of this prophet–Obadiah, the servant of God. How could Edom have been so cruel, adding acid to the vicious wounds of Babylon’s destruction of Jerusalem (11)?
“Your brother Jacob” adds two theological memories at the same time. These words recall the primal fratricide when Cain killed his brother Abel. Then God said, “Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground” (Gen. 4:10). They also take us back to the birth of Israel, the struggle for supremacy between Jacob and Esau (Gen. 27-33). Jacob’s deceptive treachery over the inheritance caused a rift that would drive him from his family and his home for many years. Worse still, as this prophecy reminds us, such violence has continued down through the centuries. Around the world such bitter feuds, fueled by national memories, often intensified by religious rivalries, continue to erode humanity and erupt in endless violence. We think of Northern Ireland, where centuries of murder and sectarianism might seem to have been healed–until another bomb destroys other lives. Will the peace hold? In South Africa, will justice and reconciliation last? We think of Rwanda and Zimbabwe, Iraq and the Kurds. And we can think of others.
The prophet’s words challenge us to think deeply about the role of Christian people in such situations. Is it to highlight the injustice and pronounce the vindication of God’s rule or is it, as another servant of God suggests, to carry the suffering and bring release from the cycle of destruction (Isa. 52:13–53:12)?
How do you react to injustice, violence and oppression, especially against people you care about? Is it like Obadiah? Jesus?
Sovereign Lord, in a world full of conflict, I’m daunted by the call to be a peacemaker. I ask for grace and wisdom to be one.
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