December 17 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, ‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’” ~Obadiah 1:3

OLD TESTAMENT

Obadiah is a relatively obscure figure whose name means “servant of the Lord.” The date of his book is under dispute. Some scholars tie historical events referenced in the book to a period prior to the fall of the northern tribe in 722 BCE while others tie those events to the fall of the southern tribe in 586 BCE. What is clear is that the Edomites, Israel’s enemies to the south, are about to experience God’s judgment.

The book of Obadiah is one of two prophets whose message is devoted entirely to a non-Jewish nation. Jonah is the other. God is watching over every nation—and every people group—even those who do not worship Him. Edom was a fiercely independent nation located in the region south of the Dead Sea, astride the border of modern-day Jordan and Israel. The people were geniuses of civil engineering; they literally carved their cities and homes into the mountains. The ancient city of Petra, made famous in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, is an example of the kind of rugged geography and stunning architecture of this region.

The Edomites’ geographic location, their civil ingenuity, and their impressive fierceness in battle allowed them to trade and raid almost unmolested. Most larger, stronger nations preferred to leave them alone, which led the people to smugly believe they were untouchable. Thus Obadiah’s message is a warning to the proud (and also an encouragement to the oppressed). When God’s people were defeated in a fierce assault on their land, the Edomites gloated. In fact, they sent out a large raiding party to rifle through the leftovers. God was not amused. He determined to bring them down.

Pride will always bring people low. Perhaps the most devastating aspect of pride is that it is so blinding, making people unable to see their foibles and failures and also unwilling to listen to correction. Smugness of heart usually manifests itself in hurtful words and deeds. Proud people have this twisted sense that they are somehow the exception and, therefore, entitled to say and do what they please.

This little book is a warning to the proud. Pride will bring you down. You are proud if you can’t listen to criticism. You are proud if there is no one in your life who can tell you no! You are proud if you think you are the exception. You are proud if you say and do things that hurt others and feel you can get away with it. Warning: you are coming down.

To those who have been wronged by the proud, this little book provides a message of hope. God will deal with those who have hurt you.

NEW TESTAMENT

Revelation 8 appears to be a description of the period known as the great tribulation. While we are now living in a period of trials and trouble, the great tribulation will be a time when the difficulties of this age will be greatly intensified (thus the name). The events of the tribulation will unfold with a period of silence. We do not know what causes the silence. It may be that the audience of the universe (those who have died and are with Christ) will be allowed to see something so dramatic, so breathtaking that all they can do is watch in stunned silence.

No one knows what God has planned for the future, but we can be sure of two things—it will leave us breathless and God is in control. Difficult days are ahead, but they are all part of God’s plan. He is preparing to take over the world and restore it!  The church must remain faithful to Him.


Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.