Obadiah lays out a death sentence for Edom in his short book.
The reason for Edom’s punishment is its participation in the destruction of Jerusalem. Edom should have helped defend Jerusalem, for the two cities were brother cities. Edom is where the descendents of Esau were, while Jerusalem is where the descendents of Jacob were. Although Jacob and Esau in Genesis are of the same lineage, they grew apart and selfishness settled in the center of their hearts. So, when the Babylonians attacked Jerusalem, Edomites were glad to tag along and take what they could. But, the brotherhood between Edom and Jerusalem is a trust relationship that was supposed to be honored and kept.
We can observe from the decision by made Edom and the subsequent consequence the imperfectness of ourselves. Although we are taught to love one another and treat others as we would like to be treated, it is not easy to do so.
But, why? I can draw two ideas.
First, the cause of our inaction or lack of loving behavior comes from our uncertainty about what the right thing to do is. We become bystanders of the hurt that our neighbors feel when we don’t know either whether we should help or how we can help. A great source to help us figure this out is the Bible. Christians, as followers of Christ and servants of God, believe that God knows best how things should work. After all, He is the creator, the ultimate designer. Thus, the Bible, which is His word revealed to us, teaches us to be righteous. For examples, I am reminded of Paul’s letter to Ephesus. He teaches Christians should put off falsehood, anger, stealing, and unwholesome speech. Instead, Christians should put on truthfulness, righteous anger, good work ethic, and wholesome speech. I am also reminded of the fruit of the Spirit, against which there is no law. When the Bible becomes a measure of our righteousness and a guide to how we can love our neighbors, we are better able to keep and build the trust relationships we have with our friends, parents, siblings, colleagues, and others around us.
Selfishness is another evidence of our disobedience of God. It also can be said that it is the root of our sins. Selfishness is when we identify ourselves to be in the center of things we see, hear, learn, and do. This is very easy to do. In fact, many people live this way because this is the only way to live, or so they think. Many other people have other causes they live for: family, power and influence, the feel of a high or thrill, security and stability in life, etc. All these things, including oneself, are nothing other than idols that God warns us about throughout the Bible. When we place something other than God in the center of our lives, when the desire for tangible things of the earth of intangible feelings and causes becomes greater than our desire for God, or when anything but God takes the center of our lives, we dishonor and disobey God. With selfishness comes the desire to steal (take away) from our neighbors. With selflessness there is love, love for God and love for our neighbors.
So, when the wrong has been committed, what do we do? Jacob and Esau teach us there is room for reconciliation. After Jacob takes Esau’s birthright and lives away for many years in fear of Esau’s revenge, he comes back to appease his brother. When Jacob presents gifts to mend the relationship, Esau does not try to get even or be paid for what he lost because there exists already in his heart forgiveness for his brother. So, Jerusalem’s righteous response to Edom’s past wrongs would be forgiveness. Justice and consequence is left for solely for God, for He is the ultimate judge. And who are we to judge?