As you have done, it will be done to you.
‘If thieves came to you,
if robbers in the night –
oh, what a disaster awaits you –
would they not steal only as much as they wanted?
If grape pickers came to you,
would they not leave a few grapes?
But how Esau will be ransacked,
his hidden treasures pillaged!
All your allies will force you to the border;
your friends will deceive and overpower you;
those who eat your bread will set a trap for you,
but you will not detect it.
‘In that day,’ declares the Lord,
‘will I not destroy the wise men of Edom,
those of understanding in the mountains of Esau?
Your warriors, Teman, will be terrified,
and everyone in Esau’s mountains
will be cut down in the slaughter. Obadiah v5-9
Yesterday, we were reminded how nothing is beyond God’s reach. Nowhere. No one.
And here we see how utterly complete will be the destruction of Edom. Nothing will be left. Not like when thieves come and take what they want and leave the rest. Not like when the pickers harvest the grapes and overlook a few. There will be nothing left. No one left. No one is spared. No one is safe. However wise you are, that will make no difference. However strong you are, that will make no difference. Nothing will protect you from what God is about to do. However many friends and allies you think you have, that will make no difference.
There’s a constant reminder here that the people of Edom are the descendants of Esau, that this antipathy towards God goes way back. But they are not to be punished for what has happened in the past. This is about how they have been behaving towards God’s people right up to the present day. And in the next verses, Obadiah spells out what that looked like in practice.
Because of the violence against your brother Jacob,
you will be covered with shame;
you will be destroyed for ever.
On the day you stood aloof
while strangers carried off his wealth
and foreigners entered his gates
and cast lots for Jerusalem,
you were like one of them.
You should not gloat over your brother
in the day of his misfortune,
nor rejoice over the people of Judah
in the day of their destruction,
nor boast so much
in the day of their trouble.
You should not march through the gates of my people
in the day of their disaster,
nor gloat over them in their calamity
in the day of their disaster,
nor seize their wealth
in the day of their disaster.
You should not wait at the crossroads
to cut down their fugitives,
nor hand over their survivors
in the day of their trouble. Obadiah v10-14
Because of their violence. And this is both active and passive. They may not have attacked Israel themselves, but they stood by and watched Israel being attacked. They stood by and did nothing. They watched and gloated. They took pleasure in the suffering of Israel. Seeing Israel brought low made them feel good about themselves. And in watching, they became complicit – you were like one of them. They profited from Israel’s misfortune. And they made sure no one survived. Anyone who tried to escape, they killed or handed over to their attackers. They became involved. They wanted to make sure they stayed on the right side of the invading army.
As you have done, it will be done to you. Obadiah v15.
This is what it all boils down to. And there’s quite a challenge in there for us, isn’t there? Because it’s not actually about what you do, it’s about what you don’t do too. Doing nothing is doing something.
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12
Prophets like Obadiah.
This isn’t just about being good to others who are good to you. Not at all. Jesus makes that clear.
But to you who are listening I say: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you… Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6: 27, 31
And it’s not about singling out one race or group of people or religion or social class to treat well.
Let’s finish off with this timely reminder.
‘Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was ill and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
‘Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison and go to visit you?”
‘The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
‘Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was ill and in prison and you did not look after me.”
‘They also will answer, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or ill or in prison, and did not help you?”
‘He will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” Matthew 25:34-45
At the end of the day, it’s entirely up to you.