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Pride Goeth Before... [6-23-24]




June 23, 2024

Obadiah 1-4

“Pride Goeth Before…”


Here are the first four verses of Obadiah:

The vision of Obadiah.

Thus says the Lord God concerning Edom:We have heard a report from the Lord,    and a messenger has been sent among the nations:“Rise up! Let us rise against her for battle!”Behold, I will make you small among the nations;    you shall be utterly despised. The pride of your heart has deceived you,    you who live in the clefts of the rock,     in your lofty dwelling,who say in your heart,    “Who will bring me down to the ground?”Though you soar aloft like the eagle,    though your nest is set among the stars,    from there I will bring you down,declares the Lord.


Here's something that makes Obadiah an outlier among Old Testament prophets. He, along with Nahum and Habakkuk, pronounced judgment primarily on other nations. Here’s the point:

WHEN PEOPLE REMOVE THEMSELVES FROM OR PLACE THEMSELVES IN OPPOSITION TO GOD’S PEOPLE, THEY CAN EXPECT JUDGMENT, RATHER THAN RESTORATION, AT THE END OF LIFE.


The presenting problem in Obadiah is the lingering generational antagonism from Edom toward Israel. Long ago, what hostility there was between Jacob and Esau had evaporated between the two men. They each got on with their lives with their families.


Esau, who was father of the Edomites, was blessed by God in many ways. He got over himself and his anger and his resentment. God blessed him with land and family and food and livestock. He learned to do what I call “front-loading contentment.” Your go-to attitude is thankfulness for what you have. You look not, first, to what you don’t have or can’t have or didn’t get. One Greek philosopher said, “He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.” Instead you consider your blessings and how God is working in your life…however God is working in your life.


Have you known people whose default setting is anxiety, worry, expect the worst, looking at what they don’t have, thinking what they do have is never good enough? Esau didn’t go there. He could have. Jacob expected Esau would hold a grudge long and tenderly. But he didn’t. Not wallowing in the past, he moved forward. As Proverbs 14:30 says, “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.” Esau moved away from the rot.


Everything would have been fine and dandy if it ended there. Obadiah became necessary because the descendants of Esau didn’t follow his example.

Verse one echoes other prophets. Listen to Ezekiel 2:1-4:

And he said to me, “Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak with you.” And as he spoke to me, the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. And he said to me, “Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants also are impudent and stubborn: I send you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’”


It’s a very familiar formula. Ezekiel’s “stand on your feet” is reminiscent of Obadiah’s “Rise up!” Serious words must be spoken. Here’s where all this is headed:

THE BEGINNING OF THE END FOR EDOM.

And to think…all they had to do is follow the example of their ancestor, Esau.


Which leads us to where they went wrong. It’s something in his sin-nature 

that Esau dealt with. He got past it. Esau let go of his pride. He swallowed 

his sense of entitlement.


Here’s something you might want to write down:

OBADIAH’S PROPHECY FOCUSES ON THE DESTRUCTIVE POWER OF PRIDE.


Before we delve into everything that’s wrong with pride, let’s first look at what keeps pride at bay.


First, here’s a quote from French theologian and reformer John Calvin:

“{People} will never worship God with a sincere heart, or be roused to fear and obey Him with sufficient zeal, until they properly understand how much they are indebted to His mercy.”


Two things hit me when I read that.


First, I love the worshiping life of Covenant Church. No matter what it is we’re singing, our singing is generally vibrant and committed. I love it when the music goes really quiet or completely drops out, and all we can hear is our singing. Spectacular. Engagement with the message and responsive prayers round things out. We worship with a sincere heart.

Over three-hundred years after Calvin, Charles Spurgeon wrote:

“The saint is grieved to think that he has sin to confess, but he is glad to think that he is enabled to confess sin. The saint is vexed that he should have so much infirmity, yet he glorifies in infirmity because the power of Christ doth rest upon him.”

Another time, Spurgeon said:

“The bleeding hands of Jesus drip with mercy.”


From Calvin to Spurgeon, we are humbled sinners who can only survive in the mercy and grace of God. We have nothing to boast or brag about. As we’ll learn through Obadiah, pride gets in the way of pursuing and living God-honoring lives. As verse three says, “The pride of your heart has deceived you.”


What are the Seven Deadly Sins?

  1. Pride

  2. Greed

  3. Lust

  4. Envy

  5. Gluttony

  6. Anger

  7. Sloth

These are gateway dispositions. A plethora of sinful behaviors spring from them.


Here we are, a month removed from most graduations. And what’s a common thing to say about graduates? We’re Proud of You. A Proud Parent of a Tecumseh High School Graduate {or whatever other school}. It’s on yard signs and greeting cards. Proud of our kids…proud of our team…proud of our community…proud of the work we do. On and on it goes.


Proverbs 16:18 says:

“Pride goes before destruction,    and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Pride is not a good thing. And yet our culture dedicates an entire month to 

it.


Is there good pride? I’ve considered the notion. But that question is the proverbial slippery slope.


While it is abhorrent to not recognize God’s sovereign role in everything, I suppose we can have something like pride in doing God-honoring or glorifying things. As Jesus reminds us in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”


Does God choose to accomplish great things through us? Of course. Nothing happens outside God’s will. While our efforts are a part of that process, including our willingness to be used, it is still all about God’s choosing. As Jesus says in John 6:44:

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”

We are part of the equation. But we know that with or without us, God’s will, will be done.

I’ve always thought it best to strike “pride” or “proud” from my vocabulary. Everything and everyone relies on God. To him belongs all the glory and honor and praise. At best, the most we are is evidence of the amazing creative power of God. I love how Paul sums it up in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31:

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”


With great confidence I can say I am not proud of you or this church or of anybody in my life. I am not proud of my own life. I am blessed beyond measure to be allowed to be part of your lives and this church and my family and this community. In spite of our awfulness, God chooses to bless us with the good things in our lives. In spite of us. It is all to His glory and 

honor and praise. Amen?


So why boast? Why go anywhere near pride? Remember, if you’re going to boast, boast in the Lord. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:7:

“What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?”

Do you hear it? Pride…boasting…coming from a position of my accomplishment. Look at what I did. See how far I’ve come. My effort really paid off. Pride is essentially self-worship. That’s never a good thing.


We’ll end here. Remember, the man Esau reconciled with his brother, Jacob. The bigger problem rested with the tribe he founded. The Edomites had a smugness about them. As verse three says, the pride of your heart has deceived you. For that, they will answer to God.


Make no mistake. We live in challenging times. Narcissism is on the rise. Pride is celebrated as a virtue. Obadiah will remind us there’s a price to be 

paid for ungodliness. Meanwhile, let these words from Charles Spurgeon keep us focused on what matters most:

“YOUR OWN WORKS WILL NEVER COVER YOU AS YOU SHOULD BE COVERED; THERE IS A BETTER RIGHTEOUSNESS THAN YOURS TO BE HAD; THERE IS A BETTER FOOTING TO STAND BEFORE GOD UPON THAN ANYTHING YOU HAVE DONE.”


And together, the people of God said:

“YES, I BELIEVE IN THE WORKS OF JESUS CHRIST, ONLY BY HIS WORKS ON THE CROSS ARE WE SAVED.”










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