The Messengers: Obadiah

In the annals of NBA history, the 1947–48 Providence Steamrollers hold a record that no team aspires to: the fewest wins in a season, with only six victories. This unfortunate record was later approached by the 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats, who had the worst win percentage in NBA history. An interesting anecdote from the Steamrollers' season is that their head coach, Nat Hickey, suited up and played in two games, setting a record as the oldest person to play in an NBA game, nearing his 46th birthday.

This historical tidbit brings to mind a popular idiom in the sports world: "Kick 'em while they're down!" It refers to the tendency of teams to take advantage of opponents who are in a rebuilding phase or having a down year. This is not just a phenomenon in sports but also a reflection of human behavior, as seen in the biblical account of the Edomites' treatment of the Israelites.

The Book of Obadiah, verses 10-14, condemns the Edomites for their actions against the Israelites during the fall of Jerusalem. The Edomites, descendants of Esau, stood by as the Israelites, their kin, were invaded and taken captive. They even went as far as to plunder the land and kill those trying to escape. This behavior exemplifies the idiom "Kick 'em while they're down," as the Edomites took advantage of the Israelites' misfortune.

This story is a reminder that life is built on relationships, with people we choose and those we would never choose. These relationships include broken people who can hurt us, akin to a dog that bites. The Edomites were like that dog, betraying their kinship with the Israelites. God expressed disappointment in their failure to help, highlighting the importance of a godly response in times of trouble.

The biblical narrative of Esau and Jacob, found in the Book of Genesis, sets the stage for the later historical relationship between their descendants, the Edomites and the Israelites.

Esau, the elder twin, is considered the ancestor of the Edomites, while Jacob, who later was named Israel, is seen as the progenitor of the Israelites. The tension between the brothers, beginning with Jacob’s acquisition of Esau’s birthright and blessing, is viewed as a precursor to the complex and often contentious relationship between their respective descendants.

The Edomites, who inhabited the region south of the Dead Sea, had a history of conflict and cooperation with the Israelites. In the biblical narrative, the Edomites are often portrayed as adversaries of Israel. For example, during the Exodus, the Edomites refused to allow the Israelites to pass through their territory (Numbers 20:14-21). However, there were also periods of alliance and intermarriage between the two groups.

The prophets in the Hebrew Bible, such as Obadiah and Jeremiah, foretold the judgment and downfall of Edom, often in the context of divine retribution for their hostility towards Israel. These prophetic declarations were seen as a continuation of the sibling rivalry between Esau and Jacob, with the fate of their descendants reflecting the consequences of their actions and choices.

In summary, the story of Esau and Jacob is not just a tale of individual rivalry but also a foundational narrative that explains the later historical and theological relationship between the Edomites and the Israelites, highlighting themes of conflict, reconciliation, and divine justice.

The Book of Obadiah, though short, contains powerful lessons:

1. Picture of God's Promises: God's promises are sure, and He will bring justice to those who do wrong. (See Amos message for definition of justice/judgment)
2. Message of Hope: There is always hope for those who trust in God, even in the darkest times.
3. Principle of Godly Response: Our response to others, especially in their time of need, should reflect God's love and compassion.

In the midst of the reality of the earthy life, never compromise the Kingdom life.

The story of the Edomites and the Israelites, much like the tale of the Providence Steamrollers, serves as a cautionary reminder. It teaches us to be mindful of how we treat others, especially when they are down, and to remember that God's justice will prevail in the end. Let us strive to be a source of support and hope to those around us, embodying the godly response that is pleasing to the Lord.
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