Obadiah 1-14 Overcoming Pride

Obadiah 1-14 Overcoming Pride November 17, 2014

Obadiah 1-14 Overcoming Pride

Obadiah 1-14 Overcoming Pride

When I think about the sin of pride, the greatest sin of all, it reminds me of the army colonel. He had just been promoted to colonel. He was sitting in his office when someone knocked at the door and said, “This is Private Johnson. May I see you sir?” He said, “Just a minute.” The colonel, wanting to look impressive, picked up his telephone and he said real loud, “Yes, Mr. President. I understand, Mr. President. We will take care of it right away, Mr. President.” He wasn’t talking to the president, but he wanted to make it seem like he was talking to the president. He wanted to appear bigger than he really was.

The colonel said, “Mr. President, just give me one second.” Then he said, “Come in, Private.” The private came in and the colonel asked him to talk quickly because he had the president on the other line. “What can I do for you?” “Well,” the private said, “I just came in to connect your telephone.” God has a way of making you look like a fool, because “pride cometh before the fall1.”

The story between two brothers Jacob and Esau go way back. The struggle between Jacob and Esau began while they were still in the womb (see Gen. 25:21–26). Years later, Jacob took advantage of Esau’s hunger to get his older brother’s birthright. When Jacob tricked their father into giving him the blessing of the firstborn, Esau wanted to murder his twin. The hostility between these brothers passed down to their descendants. Although Judah (descended from Jacob) and Edom (descended from Esau) were neighboring countries and blood relatives, they lived as bitter enemies2.

Just as one brother was jealous, this led to a pride against that brother. I don’t like you so I will become better than you is the way many people go. Instead leaning on God’s provision and learning for myself, revenge becomes a motive for pride. Instead of dependence upon Jacob, Esau who was betrayed by Jacob, built his family’s society to the point where they would be self-reliant. At this time in history, they were independent of Israel. They were self-sufficient. However, they had taken pride in their accomplishments and used it to hurt others. Pride can be very destructive. So I want to talk to you today about overcoming pride. First, let’s look at the symptoms of pride, then its results, and finally some skills which will help us overcome pride.

SYMPTOMS OF PRIDE IN MY HEART

“Your presumptuous heart has deceived you, you who live in clefts of the rock in your home on the heights, who say to yourself, “Who can bring me down to the ground?”” (Obadiah 3, HCSB)

P – Presumptuous heart

Your presumptuous heart has deceived you, you who live in clefts of the rock in your home on the heights, who say to yourself, “Who can bring me down to the ground?”” (Obadiah 3, HCSB)

Presumptuous is (of a person or their behavior) failing to observe the limits of what is permitted or appropriate. In other words, misplaced boldness, or arrogance.

The unusual word used here (zadon) for presumptuous is used of food or water that boils up. Edom’s pride is rooted in the fact that its frontiers were defended on one side by a ridge of high cliffs and on the other by a series of forts guarding against attack from the desert. It is easy to become proud when we feel invulnerable, whether because of wealth or position or military might3.

R – Resistance to authority

Because a proud person thinks everything is ok, they don’t listen to authority. Even the best people make mistakes. So it is important to keep an honest open ear to someone who can help you. When you are proud, you think you are above everyone else. You think that the standards and the rules for you don’t apply. As a result, you commit more sin because you arrogantly think no one can, should, or will do anything to stop you.

“Arrogance leads to nothing but strife, but wisdom is gained by those who take advice.” (Proverbs 13:10, HCSB)

I – I am more important than you and we.

“Who can bring me down to the ground?” (Obadiah 3, HCSB)

SOURCES OF EDOMITE PRIDE

Edom relied only on their importance, instead of asking for God’s help. Five sources of Edomite pride are identified.

1. Pride of Location (vv. 3–4)

“Your presumptuous heart has deceived you, you who live in clefts of the rock in your home on the heights, who say to yourself, “Who can bring me down to the ground?” Though you seem to soar like an eagle and make your nest among the stars, even from there I will bring you down. This is the LORD’s declaration.” (Obadiah 3–4, HCSB)

The geography of Edom gave the inhabitants of that land confidence that no foreign power could overpower them. Edom was a land of lofty mountains, steep crags, stifling heat and scarcity of water. Innumerable caves both natural and man-made offered the defenders cool sanctuaries from which to launch surprise attacks against invaders. To supplement these natural military advantages, the Edomites constructed fortresses at virtually every occupied site in the land.

A rhetorical question capsulizes the arrogant pride of Edom: “Who shall bring me down to earth?” Yahweh had an answer for them. Though they should build their dwellings as high as the eagles or even among the stars, “from there I will bring you down.”

2. Pride of Wealth (vv. 5–6)

“If thieves came to you, if marauders by night— how ravaged you would be!— wouldn’t they steal only what they wanted? If grape pickers came to you, wouldn’t they leave some grapes? How Esau will be pillaged, his hidden treasures searched out!” (Obadiah 5–6, HCSB)

Edom controlled the great trade route known as the King’s Highway which connected Damascus in the north with the seaport Ezion-geber on the Red Sea. Rich copper and iron mines in the area also provided a source of wealth. Thieves and grape gatherers normally leave something behind. God’s agents, however, would confiscate all of Edom’s hidden treasures.

3. Pride in Alliances (v. 7)

“Everyone who has a treaty with you will drive you to the border; everyone at peace with you will deceive and conquer you. Those who eat your bread will set a trap for you. He will be unaware of it.” (Obadiah 7, HCSB)

Edom felt secure because of her various commercial and military alliances. Their allies, however, would turn on them. Fugitive Edomites would be treated as strangers at the borders of allied nations. The allies would deceive and overpower Edom, i.e., join forces with the enemies. Obadiah states literally “your bread they shall place as a boil under you.” The “bread” may be a figure for those who eat bread, i.e., familiar friends, turn against Edom.2

4. Pride in Wisdom (v. 8)

“In that day— this is the LORD’s declaration— will I not eliminate the wise ones of Edom and those who understand from the hill country of Esau?” (Obadiah 8, HCSB)

The Edomites were noted for their wisdom in the ancient world. When judgment is unleashed, however, confusion will reign supreme in the mountain of Esau. No counselor will have any useful advice as to what course to follow to cope with the invasion.

5. Pride of Armies (v.9)

“Teman, your warriors will be terrified so that everyone from the hill country of Esau will be destroyed by slaughter.” (Obadiah 9, HCSB)

The “mighty men” of Edom will be dismayed by events to the point of incapacitation. They will not be able to fight. The slaughter will spread from one end of the land to the other. Even in Teman, in the southern region of the land, the slaughter would spread unchecked. Every one would be “cut off” from the mountain of Esau. None will be able to give a credible explanation as to how such a powerful nation could have been so completely destroyed.

D – Destructive behaviors follow

“Then He said, “What comes out of a person—that defiles him.” (Mark 7:20, HCSB)

Out of the heart, a man speaks. Out of the heart, a man does. When a person is filled with pride, destructive behaviors follow. Look at the examples of Edom here against it’s brother Israel.

FIVE DIFFERENT DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIORS WHICH FLOW FROM PRIDE

Betrayal (Obadiah 7)

“Everyone who has a treaty with you will drive you to the border; everyone at peace with you will deceive and conquer you. Those who eat your bread will set a trap for you. He will be unaware of it.” (Obadiah 7, HCSB)

Instead of protecting their relatives, Edom made an alliance with Babylon. Edom betrayed their kinsman. Pride does that. Because you think only about yourself and your survival, you are willing to through anyone under the bus. “I” becomes more important than “you” or “we.”

Violence (Obadiah 10)

Gloating (Obadiah 12)

Stealing (Obadiah 13)

Destroying (Obadiah 14)

E – Exalted pride ends in shame

You will be covered with shame and destroyed forever because of violence done to your brother Jacob.” (Obadiah 10, HCSB)

CONSEQUENCES OF PRIDE

If you try to lift yourself up, God will tear you down.

“Look, I will make you insignificant among the nations; you will be deeply despised.” (Obadiah 2, HCSB)

In other words, God will make you humble. He does it to nations and He does it to people. This is principle is found throughout the Bible.

“You rescue an afflicted people, but Your eyes are set against the proud— You humble them.” (2 Samuel 22:28, HCSB)

“Better to be lowly of spirit with the humble than to divide plunder with the proud.” (Proverbs 16:19, HCSB)

“Be in agreement with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation.” (Romans 12:16, HCSB)

“But He gives greater grace. Therefore He says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6, HCSB)

“In the same way, you younger men, be subject to the elders. And all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5, HCSB)

If you listen to yourself instead of God, your heart will deceive you.

“Your presumptuous heart has deceived you, you who live in clefts of the rock in your home on the heights, who say to yourself, “Who can bring me down to the ground?”” (Obadiah 3, HCSB)

“The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable—who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9, HCSB)

My heart needs to be guided. My inner self can deceive me. This is the really why a Christian needs to listen to the Holy Spirit. Society will say to follow your heart. God says to follow Him and He will guide your heart.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7, HCSB)

Pride won’t last. Without a change of heart, you will crash and burn.

“Though you seem to soar like an eagle and make your nest among the stars, even from there I will bring you down. This is the LORD’s declaration.” (Obadiah 4, HCSB)

HOW TO BE A SERVANT IN A SELFIE WORLD

We have talked about the source of pride, destructive behaviors which follow pride, consequences of pride, and how God humbles a proud heart. The question is how do I overcome pride?

Do a self-check on my heart.

“Be in agreement with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation.” (Romans 12:16, HCSB)

Build a pattern of humility in my life.

1. Associate with the humble

“Be in agreement with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation.” (Romans 12:16, HCSB)

2. Follow the example of Jesus

“Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 2:5, HCSB)

“He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8, HCSB)

3. Fight against the culture of narcissism.

“Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3–4, HCSB)

“Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3, HCSB)

Do things for other people without a need for reward.

This is the season of giving. We are told during this time that we should be people who give to others in need. It is an important lesson. However, it doesn’t stop with the holidays. As Christians, we are called to be servants. Jesus said:

“just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many.”” (Matthew 20:28, HCSB)

CONCLUSION

So many people try to do this life on their own, without God. It never goes well like that. It’s like trying to build a house with a lot of sand and not enough steel. In our own poverty of spirit, we try to build lives this way:

We build marriages with too much anger and not enough love … and they crumble.

We build reputations on too much pride and not enough humility … and they crumble.

We build families on too much busyness and not enough time … and they crumble.

We build friendships on too much criticism and not enough grace … and they crumble4.

Let me close with this story from Dr. Tony Evans:

Two brothers went away to college. One brother became a farmer. The other became a brilliant, wealthy lawyer. The lawyer brother visited the farmer brother on the farm. He said, “I can’t believe you’ve not made anything of your life. You’re out here on a farm. Look at me. Look where I am. I’m on Wall Street. I’m an investor in the stock market. I have clients who are millionaires. Here you are, stuck out here on the farm. I wonder what the difference between us is.”

The farmer brother then spoke. He pointed out to his wheat field. He said, “You’ll see two types of wheat out there, brother. You’ll see the wheat that’s standing straight up. In the head of that wheat, there is nothing. It’s empty. That’s why it’s standing so high. You’ll also see some other wheat that is bent over. That’s because the head is full. It’s full of wheat.”

Some of us are standing straight up. We are walking tall. However, we are only able to do so because we are empty. Some of us walk a little bent over indicating that we are full. The test isn’t what you have in your pocket. It’s what you have in your heart5.

1 Tony Evans, Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More Than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 237–238.

2 Dianne Neal Matthews, Designed for Devotion: a 365-Day Journey from Genesis to Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2012).

3 Lawrence O. Richards, The Bible Reader’s Companion, electronic ed. (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1991), 545.

4 Palmer Chinchen, God Can’t Sleep (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2011).

5 Tony Evans, Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More Than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 238.


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