Sunday School Lessons


Commentary by Walter Albritton


August 3


Pride Can Destroy Us and Separate Us from the Mercy of God


Obadiah 1-21


Key Verse: As you have done, it shall be done to you; your deeds shall return on your own head. – Obadiah 15


            Today’s lesson presents us with the temptation to spend too much time on the identity of the prophet Obadiah and the nature of this shortest of all the Old Testament books. As always, our time will be better used to ask what the Lord is saying to us, about our lives and our destiny, in these 21 brief verses.

            With that in mind, consider these observations as worthy of our careful reflection:

1)      A proud heart will deceive you and eventually God will humble you.

            Pride leads to destruction. Yet we are all tempted to think we can manage our lives without God’s help. Satan tries to persuade us to believe his lies. Constantly, he says, “You do not need to humble yourself before God. Be your own person. Live your life on your own terms. The traditions of your parents are old-fashioned; do what you want to do. Do what feels good to you. The Christian religion is a lot of Do’s and Don’ts designed to squeeze the joy out of life.  It is foolish to give money to the church since it is filled with hypocrites. Your money belongs to you. You earned it. You have a right to spend it on entertainment, traveling, or gambling – whatever appeals to you. You are not some silly little ‘steward’ whom God will hold accountable for your actions. You do not have to try to please God. You can do what pleases you.”

            The Edomites were proud. They ignored the chance to be charitable. They chose instead to be ruthless and heartless, all the while supposing no one could bring them down from their lofty perch. However, they were wrong. One day God said, “I will bring you down,” and He did.

            Peter was much smarter than the Edomites. He refused to believe Satan’s lies. He chose to live as a servant of Jesus Christ. He saw the danger of pride and the wisdom of humility:

            “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:5-6).

2)      God’s judgment will fall upon us if we refuse to lift a finger to help our brothers in their hour of need.

            The words of Jesus are strikingly similar to what Obadiah said. The prophet said, “As you have done, it shall be done to you.” Jesus said, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:2).

            Again, in the passage about the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25), Jesus makes it clear that those who ignore the needs of others will be punished, while those who reach out to the needy will be rewarded.

            Both Obadiah and Jesus warn us not to stand by with out hands in our pockets, doing nothing, while people all around us are suffering. Therefore, the question looms before us always: Shall we believe the lies of Satan, and live for ourselves, or shall we believe Jesus and do what we can for “the least of these,” our brothers? The choice we make will determine our eternal destiny!

3)      Finally, God will have the last word.

            Obadiah begins by declaring, as all the prophets did, the Word of the Lord: “Thus saith the Lord God concerning Edom.” He concludes his brief vision with the words, “and the kingdom shall be the Lord’s.”

            Whatever the ugly behavior of people, God would have the last word. What mattered was not what people did but what God said and did ultimately. Evil will not win at last. Satan and his lies will be exposed and the One who is “The Truth” will live and reign forever.

            Terrible things happen in the world. Wickedness seems often to have the upper hand. Eventually, however, right will prevail, love will win, and the kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdom of our Lord and Christ.

            Until that day, may the Lord save us from sinful pride, and from trusting in our own righteousness. May the Spirit move us to humble ourselves under the might hand of God so that we may be numbered among his sheep in that final judgment! + + + +