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To the Glory of God Alone [6-16-24]



June 16, 2024

Obadiah

“To the Glory of God Alone”


Today marks the last Sunday in our overview of Obadiah. We’re going to pull two connecting pieces together…the Essau/Edomite string and the umbrella theme of the book. Strings and umbrellas, I guess you might say.


First, the strings. Essau and Edom and this Biblical truth:

“I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob's brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.” If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” the Lord of hosts says, “They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’ and ‘the people with whom the Lord is angry forever.’” Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, “Great is the Lord beyond the border of Israel!”

  • Malachi 1:2-5


There’s that word…hate. “But Esau I have hated.” “Pastor, we taught our children that hate was a four-letter word.” Yet here we are…”But Esau I have hated.”


In writing about the sovereign purpose of God seen in His electing will, Paul writes:

This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls - she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

  • Romans 9:8-13

How could God hate anyone? 1 John 4:8 says:

“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”


Is there a conundrum going on here? 


Not really. It’s all about the use of language.


To refresh our memories, Esau was Jacob’s twin brother. He was born first. He did something stupid when he was older, losing his birthright. That was a very big deal. While Jacob and Esau parted ways on good terms, bad blood remained between their descendants. Caused primarily, if not completely, because of simmering anger and resentment among Esau’s descendants.


At its simplest, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated,” is a rhetorical device. Listen to Luke 14:25-26:

Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to 

them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father 

and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, 

and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”

No one in his or her right mind would go thinking that Jesus meant you had to literally hate what we hold most dear. It’s simply an exaggerational way to say the one thing has to be put first in your life. Are you with me on that?


So, returning to Malachi. God loving Jacob and hating Esau has nothing to do with the human emotions of love and hate. Keeping in mind that Jacob is a placeholder for Israel and Esau is a placeholder for Edom, it has everything to do with why God chose one nation over another for His covenant people.


Why do you think God chose Jacob to be the father of His chosen people and not Esau? Did it have something to do with their behavior? Was it rooted in the choices they made? Was it grounded in their character?


None of the above.


It was to demonstrate God’s electing purpose. God chooses according to 

His sovereign will. We have nothing to do with who God chooses. We can’t 

earn it or demand it or work for it or satisfy some sort of checklist.


God set His love on Jacob. That’s doesn’t mean God didn’t love Esau. Remember, Esau enjoyed God’s grace and mercy. It was simply a matter of who would continue as God’s chosen people. God loved Jacob, but Esau He hated.


Here’s something you might want to write down:

GOD HAS THE RIGHT TO HAVE MERCY ON WHOM HE CHOOSES.

God does the choosing.


Here are two Scripture passages and a word from Charles Spurgeon to help us round a corner:

  • And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” (John 6:65}

  • Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us[for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will. {Ephesians 1:3-5}


Here is what Spurgeon said about that:

“HE THAT PERISHES CHOOSES TO PERISH; BUT HE THAT IS SAVED IS SAVED BECAUSE GOD HAS CHOSEN TO SAVE HIM.”

And there is the rhyme and reason of Jacob and Esau.


Now onto the point that points to Obadiah:

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

God saved the people of Israel. God chose them. It has nothing…absolutely nothing to do with anything intrinsically savable or salvageable in them. They brought nothing to the table. It was all God’s doing. It was all God.


And so, Obadiah reminds God’s people who they are and how they got to 

where they were. As we’ll see, Obadiah calls people to put themselves under God’s authority. How about you? Do you struggle to set aside your own wants and desires in order to pursue the things of God? Are you interested in pursuing the interests of others as well as your own?


Next week, we’re going to pick-up at the point of pride. It is such a destructive force, yet our culture seems to be obsessed with it.


Until then, here’s the first question from The Heidelberg Catechism. Compiled in 1563, it is one of the most important teaching documents to come out of the Protestant Reformation.


  1. What is your only comfort in life and death?


THAT I AM NOT MY OWN, BUT BELONG – BODY AND SOUL, IN LIFE AND IN DEATH – TO MY FAITHFUL SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST.

HE HAS FULLY PAID FOR ALL MY SINS WITH HIS PRECIOUS BLOOD, AND HAS DELIVERED ME FROM THE TYRANNY OF THE DEVIL. HE ALSO WATCHES OVER ME IN SUCH A WAY THAT NOT A HAIR CAN FALL FROM MY HEAD WITHOUT THE WILL OF MY FATHER IN HEAVEN; IN FACT, ALL THINGS MUST WORK TOGETHER FOR MY SALVATION.

BECAUSE I BELONG TO HIM, CHRIST, BY HIS HOLY SPIRIT, ALSO ASSURES ME OF ETERNAL LIFE AND MAKES ME WHOLEHEARTEDLY WILLING FROM NOW ON TO LIVE FOR HIM.


You hear it in the answer. It’s not about us. Obadiah leads us away from pride. It’s never about us. God has placed us on a path of pursuing His praise…His glory…His purposes in loving the people in our lives. There’s no room for pride in any of those things.


Here’s the follow-up question in the Heidelberg Catechism to question 1:

  1. What must you know to live and die in the joy of this comfort?

THREE THINGS:

FIRST…HOW GREAT MY SIN AND MISERY ARE;

SECOND…HOW I AM SET FREE FROM ALL MY SINS AND MISERY;

THIRD…HOW I AM TO THANK GOD FOR SUCH DELIVERANCE.

Everything we have and are, we owe to God’s grace and mercy. And together, the saved people of God said, “AMEN.”

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