“For the day of the Lord draws near on all the nations. As you have done, it will be done to you. Your dealings will return on your own head.” – Obadiah 1:15
I tried to find an inspiring message from the book of Obadiah. It’s not as easy as you think.
Obadiah is the shortest book in the Bible (21 verses total) and is almost never talked about or studied by everyday Christians. But since we believe that the entire Bible is the inspired, inerrant word of God, chances are there must be something uplifting found in it, right?
The main point of Obadiah is that the Lord wanted to let the kingdom of Edom (founded by Esau, son of Isaac) know that He was going “make them small” among the nations. Verse 10 reads, “Because of your violence to your brother, Jacob, you will be covered with shame, and you will be cut off forever.” This verse is not about Jacob and Esau the actual brothers. Rather, it is about the nation of Israel being constantly attacked by the nation of Edom. The entire book is essentially God explaining to Edom WHY He is going to bring them low and HOW He is going to do it.
So, what are we do gain from this dark little book? Are there any rays of sunshine to be found within its text?
Well, pretty much, no.
But there is a valuable lesson for all of us here. “As you have done, it will be done to you. Your dealings will return on your head” (verse 15). Edom reaped what it sowed. It wasn’t a question about crime and punishment as much as it was about cause and effect.
What have you done to or with others lately? Most people have a neighbour on their left and on their right. Most working people have co-workers they see regularly throughout the week. Most church-going people interact with other church-going people at least once a week.
How are you treating those people? Do you ignore them because people generally annoy you? Do you speak harshly with people who park in your space or allow their dog to defecate on your lawn?
Chances are, the same approach you use in your dealings with others is the same approach they will use with you.
But that works both ways. If you are a kind and warm person, the chances of receiving that same treatment yourself grows. If you shovel your neighbour’s sidewalk in winter, it’s a lot more likely they will return the favour. If you take an interest in your co-worker’s stories about their vacation or their new garden hobby, chances are they will be more likely to listen to you when you have a story to tell.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s not a tried-and-true formula for getting the good stuff from others. Lots of kind people still take it on the chin from others who are mean-spirited every day. This principle is just that: a principle. People tend to behave toward others in kind.
So, Obadiah brought us a bummer of a message. Can’t get around that. But embedded within in it a divine principle that we can all benefit from. How you deal with others impacts how they will deal with you. And we could all use a little more kindness in our lives.
One to think on.
Some have said that peace is the most elusive treasure in all the world. It's so hard to find. Some believe it's an illusion. Others feel it is temporary and beyond our control. But the words of God paint a different picture about finding true peace.