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The depth of the application we can find in God's Word is almost limitless. Delving further into this prophetic book, Todd draws parallels between our individual pride, our national pride, and the story told in Obadiah.
The Book of Obadiah, part 2: There's More There Than You Think
The Book of Obadiah, part 1: Learning from Esau Why We Need to be Jacob
Last week about 10:15, I said, "I'm mad that I can't go for another hour." Initially, this weekend I had someplace I was going to be. I told JP, "I'm pushing you back." Next week I'll be at Estes Park with about 500 of you, and the week after that I'll be teaching at Watermark Denver. This week I said, "I'm jumping back in. I'm going to finish what I started last week." So I have about another 45 minutes on the shortest book in the Old Testament. It is the book of Obadiah.
I laid out the historical framework and the major application from that book, but I'm going to give you nine more great truths you cannot miss from this little book that most of us don't even know is there: Obadiah. So here we go. The first one is going to be like, "Are you kidding me? That's not that insightful." Well, maybe it's not that insightful, but it is true and one we need to be reminded of this morning.
Let's start off by reminding ourselves that Obadiah can be remembered by this little phrase: "O bad Edom," says Obadiah. Edom, we know, is a nation that comes from the descendants of Esau, and we know that Esau was a man who was given to scoff at the word of God, the promises of God, and the blessing God brings. He believed his own flesh, his own way, his understanding of where life was, was better than God's own understanding of where life was.
So here is a major application: pride deceives and leads to sin. We all know sin will eventually lead to death, so pride leads to death. Here's the reason pride leads to death: because it always leads to sin. The most normal way to think of pride for most of us is when we see prideful people who kind of unbutton their shirt a little bit too much and who are "roostering" around town and acting like everybody ought to look at them and who stand in front of every mirror they can and take a good gaze and go, "Now you, brother, have it going on."
Very few of us really do that. We all look in the mirror, but we don't say, "You've got it going on." We go, "You, brother, are putting it on," is what most of us say in front of a mirror. I have never in my life been impressed with who I am in terms of watching myself from a distance or thinking about anything I've accomplished, but the truth is I am prideful.
Not in the way my small mind wants to put it, which is like, "I can't believe how good-looking I am" or "I can't believe how gifted I am." I really have never struggled with that, but I do all the time live as if my way is the right way. That is a better understanding of pride: that my sense of right and wrong, my sense of truth, my sense of appropriateness is the right one. Frankly, you can't even get me to admit that. I just live that way. The problem is most of us aren't acknowledging that we live that way.
We can watch Esau and we can listen to his quotes and go, "Bro, you're living that way. God's Word, God's promises, God's blessing is not the right way, because you scoff at what God has said. You discount his blessings, you discount his promises, and you just do what you want to do," and we see what it leads to. Every time Todd Wagner or Esau or you decide his way is the right way, it always leads to sin, which is less than God's way.
Sometimes we choose not to do what God wants, and those are sins of omission, and often we choose to do what we want, and God says, "I wouldn't go there," and those are sins of commission. Every time you choose to live the way you want to live apart from the way God wants you to live, you are progressively, if you will, committing suicide. You are moving toward death. Let me just walk you through some verses. Some of them are very familiar.
Proverbs 11:2 says, "When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom." The idea there simply is whenever you do what seems right to you, which is always, by definition, less than what seems right to God… You are not omniscient. You are not righteous altogether. God is. So if you're going to go by what your limited, finite, humanistic understanding is, it is going to be less than what God says is true and right, so it will bring about less than that which is honorable, true, right, pure, and lovely.
Pride leads to dishonor, but with humility, when you say, "Dad, what do you think I should do? Spirit of God, not the spirit of Todd, what do you think I should do…?" Proverbs 16:18: "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling." It is just a matter of course. You can bank on it. Whenever you choose to do what seems right to you, you are headed toward destruction.
This week, I had a chance to interact with a family that had an individual who made a terrible decision that led to the loss of their life, and as I spent time with some of those individuals, I just talked about, "We all stand in horror when we see somebody make this final decision to eliminate life." We talked about that. I said, "We can't do anything about that right now." Here's my question: What are we doing to help each other stop committing what I would call progressive suicide?
Every time you see somebody live another moment, another day, choosing not to follow God and honor God, be it relationally, financially, be it spiritually, certainly, it is progressively moving toward death. What's amazing is, for some of us, our death is so slow we are that proverbial frog in a kettle. We don't know the temperature is being warmed up around us, and all of a sudden we're at this boil, and death comes, and the world goes, "That's just it. Eighty years, and slowly death came."
What we really don't know is for 80 years they drifted farther and farther away from God, more into the world's way, more comfortable with rationalizing that "This is just what happens," and at the end of the day, death is upon us and we have, in effect, been responsible for our own eternal death because we've continually ignored God.
Suicide is an awful thing, but most of us commit suicide progressively and not with one grand act that makes the world stop and go, "How could somebody do that?" A better question is…How can we live every day as if God is not right and God is not true and God is not loving and progressively move away from him? Death wreaks through our marriages, wreaks in our churches, runs through our government, lives in our city, a little at a time. Step-by-step, we drift away from life and destruction is upon us.
Proverbs 29:23: "A man's pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor." We talked last week in Proverbs 18:10-12 about how the name of the Lord is a strong tower. That's where you should run to. The righteous go there and are safe, but rich individuals, strong individuals, people who are rich in the things of the world… Their wealth, their beauty, their power, their position is their strong city. It is like a high wall, the Scripture says, in their own imagination.
Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty, but humility goes before honor. What you have to look at is our country. Right now, is there humility so honor is coming to our country or is there arrogance and haughtiness? Then you can tell what the future of America is. Do we scoff at the promises of God? Do we root our reasoning? Do we structure our worldview based on what God says? If not, then you can know that destruction is coming to our country.
If there is humility and brokenness… Not if we sing "God Bless America" on Sundays between the top of the seventh and the bottom of the seventh, not because we put "In God we trust" on our money, not because we have churches on every street corner, but are we a humble country? If we are, then honor is on our way. If we are not, brace yourself, O people. Brace yourself and do the work of an evangelist so that humility would come upon us.
So here we go. I love this about Edom. Edom was arrogant because of the fortress of their natural surroundings. Throughout the Old Testament, the tanks of the day, if you will, the Apache helicopters, the ballistic missiles of that day were chariots. So Psalm 33 is always reminding kings what makes them great.
I love what Napoleon used to do. Napoleon used to scoff at God and man, and whenever they would get ready to go into battle, Napoleon would call his troops together and say, "Whose side is God on today?" and he would have his troops shout back at him, "God is on the side of the one who has the most artillery!" Napoleon would do that to breathe confidence in his troops, because the French always had the most artillery, just like they did that day at Waterloo when he grossly outnumbered those he fought against, yet it was time for Napoleon's march to stop.
This is what Psalm 33 says in verses 16-17. It is, by the way, why God told Israel to never, ever have kings who develop for themselves a great stable of horses. We saw that one of the beginnings of the downfall of that nation was when they began to take a census and count how many warriors they had. Solomon bred horses to build up this great battalion, if you will, of missiles he could go to war with.
God says, "The king is not saved by a mighty army; a warrior is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a false hope for victory; nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength." There's something else which sustains people, something else which sustains nations. Psalm 75 is a great psalm to circle and remind yourself of. If you wonder why certain things are happening… We don't take a fatalist mentality here. We just know God is always at work. His sovereignty is always going on.
Whenever you have a coach, a teacher, a parent, a president, a governor, a tyrant who is over you, you can be sure that guy didn't get there by mistake. You might wonder what God is up to, and that's fair, but you'd better keep trusting that God is up to it and figure out what God would have you do underneath certain types of leadership.
The Scriptures tell us that, but know this. Psalm 75: "…do not lift up your horn on high…" In other words, "Edom, do you want to know why you're great? Don't speak with insolent pride. It's not because you've learned the ways of your daddy Esau. It's because I want to bless you, but I want these blessings to remind you of who I am, not of how great you are."
"For not from the east, nor from the west, nor from the desert comes exaltation; but God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another. For a cup is in the hand of the Lord , and the wine foams; it is well mixed, and He pours out of this; surely all the wicked of the earth must drain and drink down its dregs."
What he's saying is, "Look. Do you want to know how you got where you are? I raised you up. Nothing else was at work at the end of the day except me at work." Sometimes he raises up wicked rulers as a means of judging the people so they would learn to trust in a messiah that is not Christ. How's that?
Jesus and God are always our hope, and when we have our hope in other people or when you are in a position of power and think your power and your political savvy and your political engine and machine got you there, you have another think coming, because God always is the one who exalts kings. He puts down one and puts down another. Obadiah is a book that reminds us that God is sovereign over all of us, that when you go your own way it's going to lead to destruction, that pride leads to awful things.
Let me say one more thing about this, and this is a humbling truth for me. Let me read to you this puzzling verse from Exodus, chapter 34. In Exodus 34:6-7 it says this. Moses cried out that God would reveal himself to him, so he did. He passed by in front of him. He didn't let Moses see all of his glory for a lot of reasons, but what he did is he revealed to Moses certain truth about who he was.
"Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, 'The Lord , the **** Lord **** God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity…'" Think about it. That's who God is. Do you remember what I said last week? "Jacob I loved; Esau I hated."
He's saying, "Listen, Jacob. I made a promise that my word would be upheld and that my blessing would come, and it will never, ever stop. I will accomplish lovingkindness and forgiveness of sin. I will accomplish kindness for thousands of generations. It will never stop. But there is going to be a time where with certain individuals there is going to be horror that befalls them."
Specifically, he says, "…yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations." Here's what this means. About every 10 years, somebody writes a book on what's called generational sin, and they tell you the way to break out of your little hiccup you're in, whether it be psychosomatic or physical of some nature, is that you have a specific sin that has cursed your family and you have to cast out that generational demon.
Now, let me just say this to you. There is no such thing as a generational demon that is affecting your family that you have to name and get rid of that way. What you do need to do, though, is realize this: all of us become like those who influence us the most. What God says is "I'm going to limit the sins of the fathers to the third and fourth generation."
God isn't saying those kids are going to have to suffer. What he's really doing is limiting the effect of a man or a woman on generations of people. In other words, how many of you learned to cuss from your great-grandfather? How many of you learned from your great-grandfather to be a racist? How many of you learned from your great-grandmother how to be a materialistic hoarder? Very few of you.
I knew my great-great-grandmother. I knew five generations, but I didn't learn much from her, because we just basically cared for her. She was 90-some years old. I actually did learn to cuss from my great-grandmother. The first person I ever heard cuss was my great-grandmother, but really, she didn't have the prevailing impact on my life.
Here's the deal. Sometimes Great-Grandma does teach Grandma how to live, and Grandma teaches Mama how to live, and Mama teaches you how to live, but the specific effects of discipleship from one individual to another are maybe going to be a grandfather to a grandson (third generation) or possibly a great-grandfather to a great-grandson, but that doesn't happen very often.
What he's saying here is "I'm going to limit the effects of any one person's effect on future generations to just three or four generations. Then they're out of here." What does happen is that, often, Junior learns to do just what Senior did, and if Junior is your daddy, you're going to be affected, in a way, by Grandfather. There is no question that you see certain sin attributes. Racism was handed down this way. People learned to hate because in ignorance their fathers hated.
You see the way women are treated. You see the way marriage is observed. You see the way conflict is resolved. You see the way pain is dealt with through coping strategies that are passed down through families, but it's not a generational curse in the sense you have to name that demon to get rid of it. You just have to learn that "My daddy did not obey God. My daddy was an arrogant man. My daddy trusted in himself more than God, and I'm not going to do that."
So you repent of self-will, you repent of a humanistic way, and you learn to love God. You repent, and grace intervenes. What you need to cast out is your own propensity to follow in the steps of your fathers and learn to trust your Father in heaven. If you don't come from a generation of believers, you have to learn to believe or you yourself will be destroyed. This is a sobering thought.
Let me tell you why Edom was ultimately destroyed: because the sin of Esau, generations later, continued in those people. The Edomites were arrogant. They scoffed at the Word of God and the promises of God. They didn't think God really cared what you did to Israel. "Who cares that Israel is Jacob's descendants? Who cares if God said he was going to do something with Jacob's descendants? We'll destroy them all. We'll step on their necks. We'll kill them all so there is no ability for God to do something great through Jacob." And God said, "No, you won't. No, you will not."
So what you have is a group of people who in their strength, just like Esau; a group of people who because of their ability to defend themselves, just like Esau; a group of people who thought what seemed right to them was the right way to go, just like Esau… It eventually led to their destruction. I tell folks all the time, "You need to know bad parents are a fact; they are not an excuse."
My kids have an imperfect parent, and this scares me to death. I say "scares me." It sobers me to know that my kids are going to learn from me, both the good of me and the bad of me. I have seen my kids do some things that I just go, "Oh my goodness! That is just like your mother. We have to stop that." I'm telling you, I said, "Sweetie, do you see what you're doing to the children?" Lord, have mercy on me.
Let me show you a couple of verses. If you don't care about what happens to you if you scoff at God, I hope you care that your kids are going to learn to scoff at God just like you and to bring judgment on themselves because they scoff at God, just like Daddy taught them. Proverbs 22:24-25 says, "Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man, or you will learn his ways and find a snare for yourself."
You can go down through almost any sin attribute in the Scripture, and you can plug it in right there for what that says. Your kids are going to learn to be materialistic and to not store up for themselves treasures in heaven. You can tell them all day long God is what should be trusted. You can tell them all day long God and eternity matter, but if you invest in this world more than eternity, all your preaching doesn't make a lick of difference, and your kids are going to march to that same drumbeat of death and future consequence just like you.
I'll say this in terms of church life. I heard a guy say this recently. I thought it was genius. If you want your kids to grow up and have a generally platonic attitude toward God and to not love him and desire him, then you keep going to a church you secretly wish you didn't have to go to yourself. That is why so many kids when they get to college are out of there, because their parents took them week in and week out to places where it's just a monotonous return to familiarity and not an active engagement of the heart and a call to repentance.
Parents thought, "If I didn't have to go here, if I wasn't bound up by society and propriety, I wouldn't go here either," and your kids are ready to not. So, Daddy, do you want to have your kids grow up to share their faith? Are they seeing you share your faith? Do you want your kids to grow up to study the Bible and have that be the rule of law in their life? Do you study the Bible and make it the rule of law in your life?
I'm not talking about what you did when you were a kid. I'm talking about right now. Does purity mark your life? Do you want your kids to make good moral choices? Then you make good moral choices. Do you want your kids not to abuse alcohol? Then don't make them think the party starts when alcohol comes out, because all kids want to do is be like their parents.
If their parents have fun with alcohol… Even if you don't get drunk, if alcohol and fun are associated together, guess what your kids are going to learn. "I have fun with alcohol," and they may not be able to control it as wisely as you. "That's what adults do. They get this special thing, and that special thing is what makes it fun. If you have wine, then it's a real party. If you have beer, then you're a real man."
I'm not hung up on alcohol. I want to know if you are. I want to know if your kids think that's where the party is. If you always are making it about that, you're sending a message you don't know you're sending. So what you see is that pride comes before destruction and that, often, arrogance toward God is learned from Mama and Daddy.
Now, if you have a mom and dad who don't know Christ, who are compromised, who are Christian in name only, that is not an excuse for you to be a Christian in name only, because it says in Ezekiel and numerous other places in the Scripture that you yourself will be judged, not for what your daddy did but for what you did. Bad parents are a fact; they are not an excuse.
Did your dad abuse you when you were a kid? Did he leave you and abandon you? Fine. Learn not to do it. Hate his ways and love God's ways. Call him to repentance. Tell him about the mercy and grace of God, and walk in it yourself. You break that chain of generational rebellion, not possession of demons.
Here we go. Obadiah. It's all right there. Sin, once unleashed and unaddressed, always escalates and leads to even greater sin and trouble. Now where do I get that? Once you start down this road, it is not like it's just isolated in its rebellion. If you don't check it, if it's not addressed specifically, then you kind of look around and go, "I got away with that. I think I'll just do it again."
What did Esau experience when he said, "I don't care about the promise of God; I care about my tummy"? He kind of looked around and went, "Guess what. My hunger was satisfied, and Jacob is still a mama's boy, and I'm still a man's man." So the march continued unchecked and unaddressed. It escalated in Esau's life to even greater sin and trouble, and what happens is that's passed down.
Another generation goes, "Well, nothing really happened to Daddy as far as we can see. Nothing happened to Granddaddy. Nothing happened to Granddaddy's boy and his boy and his boy," and the next thing you know, you have a nation that is absolutely sure judgment will never come. Judgment is sometimes on this side of the grave, and there's consequence on this side of the grave, and that's what the book of Obadiah was about, but there had been generations of judgment at that moment that they stood before God and gave an account.
I love this little section of Scripture in Proverbs 24:30-34. "I passed by the field of the sluggard and by the vineyard of the man lacking sense, and behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles; its surface was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down." The idea here is how long does it take a stone wall to break down? A long time. I could do a whole message on this one little proverb.
What he's saying is, "I walked by, and I learned from what I saw." This is the point I want to use in terms of application from Esau. "When I saw, I reflected upon it; I looked, and received instruction." Here's what he found. Now watch this progression. It's backward. "'A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest,' then your poverty will come as a robber and your want like an armed man."
Why do I say it's backward? Because, typically, what you do is you sit down and fold your hands, and then you start to nod off, and then you're sleeping. That's the normal progression of checking out, but what he's seeing here is if you sleep during this season and then you rest, it's not going to be long before all you have to do is fold your hands and you are dead. Let me take it to you like school.
We all had some of those classes where there was only one final, and that final was your entire grade. I loved those classes in September. They were my favorite classes in October. I celebrated them in November. I hated them every December. Why? Because I had slept, I had slumbered, I had rested, and I went, "Oh my gosh! It is December stinkin' 8. That final is December stinkin' 10. If I do anything but focus on that class in the next 48 hours, I have an F coming."
Here's what this is trying to say to you: Don't get lazy. The longer that you're lazy, you're going to put yourself to where it's just one more… There was a game when I was a kid called "The Last Straw." I loved that game. There was a camel on wheels, and you put these little sticks on his back, and straw by straw, all of a sudden, that one last stick you put on there, his legs went out and he flattened down, the sticks went everywhere, and you lost. That's this proverb.
We're just dropping stick after stick of rebellion and indifference to God and laziness and arrogance on that camel's back, and then all of a sudden, one more stick, and that camel is flat. What I want to tell you is if you have sin in your life right now that is unaddressed and unchecked… This is what happens this week. "How in the world could this have happened?" Chances are, just stick by stick, day by day, of progressive suicide. That's how it happened.
It's not typically a blowout; it is a slow leak. Edom had a slow leak, and they were arrogant, because they kept putting on sticks, and unlike that game where with fear and trepidation you would put another stick on, they said, "Bring your sticks! We are Edom. We are great and strong. There has been no horror to us, our people, or our father's people. Bring your sticks, O God," and God goes, "I have your stick."
How about this one? The unconfessed and unchecked is always punished. This is kind of a corollary to what I just said. Maybe not right away, but always. This is a verse I quote to myself always. It's Ecclesiastes 8:11. "Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil." In other words, you cheat on your taxes once, no big deal. "I'll cheat a little bit more next time."
You roll a few red lights and stop signs. No cop at that corner. "I think I'll roll a little more aggressively next time." And on and on and on it goes. "I abuse my wife verbally. She hangs around. I'll become even more bold in my abuse. I hang around at a strip club. I had an affair. She didn't get pregnant, didn't bring home an STD. I don't give to God. I don't connect in membership. I'm not involved with community. I let my community stay stagnant and indifferent and largely platonic. What's the big deal?"
I'll tell you the big deal. It's coming. The book of Obadiah tells you, "Deal with it." God's grace sometimes… Praise God there is not a lightning bolt that happens every single time we screw up. None of us would make it to 3. What's amazing is that God in his grace, when he keeps convicting us and saying, "Come on. Listen…" By the way, this is why, categorically, as a national strategy, appeasement does not work.
When you appease a tyrant, they become more tyrannical. The reason guys keep saying, "Well, let's just do this. Let's keep trying to talk reasonable stuff to unreasonable people." They don't know the nature of man. It is a fundamental theological problem. It is a worldview problem that leads to public policy that leads to great horror. You go back over the course of United States military conflict, and you see if appeasement has ever worked.
I want to tell you what. They don't want the West Bank. They don't want the Gaza Strip. They don't want the Golan Heights. They want Jerusalem. They want Israel. They don't want just the ability to make nuclear energy. They want nukes so they can nuke. It's just crazy. The more you appease them, the more they scoff, and the more they go, "See? There's no consequence to standing up against that source of justice."
Let me just tell you something. America is imperfect in its justice; God is not. Police are imperfect in their prosecution of evil; God is not. The book of Obadiah is saying, "Look, you Edomites. You may get away with it now, but because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore, don't let your heart become more accustomed to evil, because it's going to come." That's right there in Obadiah. Scoff at it if you will. Repent if you're wise.
God takes seriously our call to care for others and not delight in the hardship of our enemies. One of the things I love about the Bible… The Bible is so stinkin' practical. You know what? I'd love to sit down with the Pentagon and teach the book of Obadiah. I would. And say, "Let me tell you, when we go to prosecute," which is exactly, according to Romans 13, what government is: a sword of justice. It is a minister.
When I asked, "How many ex-military men and women are here today?" I should have said, "How many ex-ministers of the sword of God are here today?" because that's who they are. They are ministers of justice…if the principles of justice the Scripture line out are executed by them. There is this thing called the just war theory. It informs many of the great treaties that have existed between civilized governments in the past about how you treat prisoners of war, about how you go about war.
Proper cause, proper authority, proportionate response are all principles of the just war theory, which is birthed out of God's loving revealed Word. When you go to war, you need to go to war with God at the forefront of your philosophy and theory. Otherwise, God says, "I'm going to call you into account, because you are my agent of discipline. When you do things inappropriately, it's going to be chased back to me, and I'm going to call you into account."
"What are you talking about?" Well, let me just show you. I'm going to use Assyria here, because it's more clearly spelled out with Assyria, but if you go read Obadiah, verse 12, he says, "I'm telling you, I'm going to slap you upside the head, because when I sent you to discipline Jacob, you didn't want to discipline Jacob; you wanted to destroy him.
You first laughed at them when they suffered consequence from me. You looked on and didn't help them. You looted them when they were weak, and then later, you leased them out. You caught the Jacobites who were fleeing from the coming Babylonian oppression, and you said, 'Here they are, Babylonians. Right here. We'll sell them to you for a couple of shekels.'" God said, "Nuh-uh. No, sir."
Look at Isaiah. Watch this. This is Isaiah 10:5-7. He's talking about Assyria, which was used earlier, about 722 BC, to judge the northern kingdom. "Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger and the staff in whose hands is My indignation, I send it against a godless nation and commission it against the people of My fury to capture booty and to seize plunder, and to trample them down like mud in the streets."
Question: Who was judging the northern kingdom? Assyria? Let's read it again. Verse 5: "Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger…" So who is judging northern Israel? God. What's he using? Assyria, just like he was going to use Edom. Verse 13: "For [Assyria] has said, 'By the power of my hand and by my wisdom I did this, for I have understanding; and I removed the boundaries of the peoples and plundered their treasures, and like a mighty man I brought down their inhabitants…'" He's saying, "What you did is you moved from discipline to destruction."
Verse 14: "…and my hand reached to the riches of the peoples like a nest, and as one gathers abandoned eggs, I gathered all the earth; and there was not one that flapped its wing or opened its beak or chirped." What he's saying here is "What you did is you exalted yourself. I used you to discipline them, but you sought to utterly destroy them, and you cannot utterly destroy Jacob, because I'm going to accomplish with Jacob what I said I would accomplish with Jacob.
I want you to discipline them and teach them that they need to walk with me and fear me, because I am their protector, and when they don't walk with me, their protection is gone. So whether I use Assyria or whether I use Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or whether I use a passive America to discipline you, it's not America or Iraq or Iran or Hezbollah that is disciplining you; it is me, and if they overstep their bounds…" And they always do, because they scoff at God.
He says, "They're never going to wipe you out, because there will always be a descendant of Jacob I will bless, and I will do what I said I would do with Jacob, but Jacob needs to do what I asked Jacob to do, and if I use you as an instrument to discipline Jacob and you try to destroy Jacob, I will destroy you utterly." The same is true with us. This is one of the principles of just war: proportionate response. Not vengeance. Vengeance is God's. When you say, "I'll teach you," God says, "No, you won't."
Let's move on. Obadiah. Is there anything in that book? It'll make you want to read your Bible, won't it? Here we go. God always keeps his word, both to protect his people and to punish his enemies. This is a message in and of itself. Romans 11 talks about what God is going to do with Jacob. Edom sought to utterly destroy Jacob, because it wanted to say, "Look. If we can just get rid of the Jews, the Israelites, completely and utterly altogether, then God can't do what he said he's going to do, and then off we go."
By the way, I'm just going to insert this here. If you don't know what I'm talking about, let it pass. If you do, fine. What I want to say is there are different ways to study your Bible, and there are certain views which apply a hermeneutic that believes we don't need to help God out by spiritualizing certain texts or allegorizing certain texts, but we believe the Word of God is true and accurate.
Someone asked me one time, "Todd, do you take the Bible literally?" I respond by saying, "I take the Bible accurately." When it's historical narrative, I read it as historical narrative. When it's poetic language, I understand it as poetic language. This is why you study grammar. God revealed his Word and his truth through language, so you need to apply the rules of language to the Word of God.
When Jesus says, "I am the door," we don't think he's a three-inch piece of wood that's eight feet high with a knob on it. He is there using metaphor and simile to teach us something about who he is. What happens is sometimes we look around and we say in the third century, when Rome comes and wipes out Israel, "Well, there is no Israel," and for 1,700 years, largely, there was no Israel. So we go, "Well, God said he's going to do something with Israel, but there is no Israel. How can God do what he says he's going to do?"
He very clearly says he will do something with a body of people who are descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in order that the whole nation might be blessed through them. Clearly, he is blessing the whole nation through one of their descendants, just like he said he would in Genesis, chapter 12…through a seed, singular, that Paul talks about in Galatians. My point here is some people say, "Well, he's never going to accomplish what he said through Israel. The church is Israel. Israel was the church."
That becomes what is called covenant theology, and it leads to a spiritualizing of the text, which opens Pandora's box to where other people will come and spiritualize other things, like the literal resurrection of the dead. They'll go, "Wait a minute. You can't spiritualize that," and they go, "Why not? You spiritualized God's promises to Israel. Why can't I spiritualize God's promises to the individual believer?" I would agree with them, which is why you don't ever spiritualize God's promises in the Scripture.
It's so interesting to me how many people today in churches all across this country… In fact, there was a large denomination that recently came out and said, "I don't know why America has always cared about Israel. Israel is not important in God's prophetic history." Why? Because they made this fundamental decision to help God out. It's called amillennialism. It's this idea that God is not necessarily going to have to accomplish his word by doing what he said he would do in his Word. They spiritualize the promise. He'll accomplish it through the church.
It's always interesting. Those folks go back and take all of the promises for Israel and apply them to the church, but all of the curses for Israel… We don't apply them to us. There is no question that God is up to something unique in the church that is in effect. He tells us in Romans 11, "The reason I'm blessing the church today is because the true church is rightly related to me, and I'm trying to make Israel jealous." We are dancing with their date. We are in love with their Messiah. We are experiencing the blessings of the covenant promises to that nation.
One of these days, they're going to get sick and tired of seeing God bless us and go, "Why are we letting the Gentiles dance with our date? Why don't we go back and say we want to dance?" and God says, "Perfect. Come on. Let's dance. There's room for all of you. Initially, I was going to bless the Gentiles through the Jews, but the Jews wouldn't get it right, so I'm going to bless the Gentiles so the Jews can be blessed back to the Jews." I worship a Jewish Messiah, and I believe that God will accomplish…
Here's what I'm trying to get at: Don't help God out. You don't need to help God out. You don't need to marry a nonbelieving man so God can allow you to have a generation of spiritual faithfulness that comes from the fruit of your loins. That's crazy. You lengthen your patience; don't lower your standards. The reason the church in AD 300 or AD 400 came up with this idea of "Well, maybe we should spiritualize these passages" is because we couldn't see how God could ever bring back a nation that was no longer a nation together.
Lo and behold, in 1948, he did it. Now I'll tell you. I think Israel has another day coming. I think they're going to be dispersed again. I think judgment is going to come upon them again, but I think they're going to be reconstituted again. More to come on that later. (I told you. Those five minutes were not for anybody who didn't know what I was talking about, but go study.)
So what's our job? Trust in God. Fret not because of evildoers. Seek him. Dwell in the land. Cultivate faithfulness. In other words, what's your job? Don't worry about Edom. Now look. As a government, we should worry about Edom, but you individually, as a citizen, are called to do this. This is one of the mistakes I see so many people in the church make today.
They take certain commands of the individual and place that on the government. They take restrictive commands to the individual and say, "See, that's why we should never go to war, because God says don't murder." That's a command to the individual, but he has given government proper authority with proper cause, who will have a proportionate response, the ministry of the sword. Read your Bible. But it's not mine unless I am an agent of the government, and then I'd better act appropriately, as the government should as a minister of God.
This is what we are commanded to do. When you see Edom excelling… If you see some foreign nation bring us to our knees, what should you do? I'll tell you what you should do: Trust in God. Fret not because of Edom. If you are a descendant of the blessing that came through Jacob and if you know Christ and love him, you are. Trust in God. Fret not because of Assyria. Seek him. Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Where do I get that? Right here in Psalm 37. It says, "Do not fret because of evildoers, be not envious toward wrongdoers." In other words, when you see your high school buddies dishonoring God, going for a mess of pottage, some red stew, and not faithfulness and purity, and it seems like they're having all the fun… They get to talk about the right movies, and you're over there clueless what they're talking about. It looks like they're the ones having all of these great experiences, and you're over here practicing purity. Fret not.
"For they will wither quickly like the grass and fade like the green herb. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness." You go, "Wait! That isn't fair! Your whole application. You just quoted Psalm 37 in your application." Exactly. It'll make you sound smart. Know your Bible. People say, "What should I do? Edom is kicking our butt." I'll tell you what you should do. Fret not because of Edom. Edom's day is coming.`
Who knows that Edom hasn't been raised up by God to bring judgment on us? "What do you mean? They worship Allah. They make their women wear burkas, and they oppress women." Okay. Listen. God will take care of Edom. What about us? If you were God, wouldn't you call us to attention? I would. Sometimes he uses the Assyrians to do it, but Edom will get his, especially when he doesn't just come to discipline but to destroy. You make sure you walk with God.
Obadiah. It's right here. How excellent and applicable is this book? Man! It makes me want to read my Bible. I want to give you one more. God is never concerned about who appears to be winning in any given moment. Even death does not decide victory, according to him. Where do I get that? We have these conversations all the time.
"All right, Wagner. What are you going to do? Here we go. Hezbollah is here. The terrorists are here. They are going down the street. They are raping and pillaging and murdering. They are butchering. What are you going to do?" We can get all theoretical, and we can all talk about what we're going to do, but I want to tell you what God would have me do, what Jesus did when he stood before an unjust authority who was acting wickedly.
He just said, "You have no authority except that my Father has given it to you." "So you can do what you want to do, but you're not in charge here as you think you are. Before you go ahead and decapitate me and do whatever else you're going to do in my household, I want to let you know you need to learn to fear God. God is not as you have defined him in your understanding. God is this, and he loves you.
So if you want to go ahead and run that sword through me, have your way. You'll just send me to glory, but it would be better for you if I stayed and kept reminding you of this, because your concern is not that I might pull out a .45 and take three of you down before you take the rest of me down. Your concern is that you have to deal with my God. Have your way."
This is what Jesus says: "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household!" In other words, if they said Jesus was possessed by a demon and was crazy and did not live with a right mind, don't you think it might happen to you?
"Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops." This is the verse, verse 28: "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear [the one] who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."
Who do you fear? I fear the God of Jacob. I know he is right and just. So when wicked men have their way and scoff at you, look them in the eye and say, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do," just like Stephen did, just like Jesus did. You know that even death, where they stomp on your grave and stick their seed in your women and rejoice over you and mock your God, the grave isn't the end of the war. It's the beginning of revealing where true righteousness comes.
Now you go, "That's crazy talk. Wagner, you're betting everything. I'm going to empty my M16 into every one of them." Well, I'm going to trust in the Lord and do good or I'm going to enlist and have the sovereign right to do it.
Father, I pray for this body, that it would love the Word of God, that it would love you, that it would fret not because of evildoers, that it would not look at Edom and join them in its scoffing and rebellion against you, the Edomites of today, the rebellious, those who are imbibing at their will, those who are indulging their flesh, those who are rebelling against you and scoffing at the standard.
I pray we would not be intimidated by them or envy them, because it won't be long before we're joining them, but that we would dwell in the land and do good, that we would study our Bibles, that we would see that you have told us how to act individually and corporately as a people and that we would encourage each other day after day, lest we're hardened by the deceitfulness of Edom and sin. We thank you that your Word is so helpful.
As fathers and mothers in this room today, we fear that we are teaching our children to be a generation of even more arrogant men and women, more compromising men and women than we are, so may we address our lack of biblical excellence. May we check sin in our hearts. May we start to pursue you with all of our hearts so they might have a chance to learn from us that which is right and true and good and not that which will evoke eventual consequences here as well as in eternity.
Lord, we have become arrogant because you have not brought judgment on us, and today, I pray that we are sobered a little bit more, that we might be humble and have more honor ahead than destruction. I thank you for these friends who encourage me with all of the ways they do apply your Word, and I pray we would do it with more fervor and excellence than ever before and that we would be your church and you would be our God and we could be a servant to this people we live with. We love you. We thank you for grace, and we remember Christ who died for us to set us free. May we walk in that freedom, amen.
You worship him, and have a great week doing it. We'll see you.