Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel logo

God’s Word for You

Obadiah 13-14 When disaster is an opportunity

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, April 21, 2018

13 Do not enter the gates of my people
  on the day of their calamity.¹
  Do not look down on their affliction
  on the day of their calamity.
  Do not seize their wealth
  on the day of their calamity.
14 Do not wait at the crossroads
  to cut off those who have escaped.
  Do not imprison his survivors on the day of distress.

¹ The word translated “calamity” here and throughout this verse sounds like the name Edom.

As in Ezekiel 35:5, there is a wordplay between the words eydam, eydai “calamity” and the name of the land of Edom. The progression of verse 13 shows Edom’s hostility toward Judah in action. First, they entered into Jerusalem and other Israelite cities after the Babylonians defeated the Jews. Then they gloated over the remnant of the people who were left there. Finally, whatever was left to take, the Edomites took.

Notice that the Lord turns his condemnation in these verses into commands: Do not, do not, do not; do not. Five commands illustrate the sins of the Edomites. They joined with the attackers rather than defending their ancient brothers. They lorded their position over the downtrodden—even the grieving widows and orphans and the other survivors who remained. They stole and looted what was not theirs to take. They plotted to do even more, to kidnap refugees who were fleeing the disaster, and to imprison them, selling the survivors into slavery. The sins of the Edomites tore through God’s fifth, seventh, ninth, and tenth commandments, but they were violating the first as well (setting their own greed up above God’s will), and in doing so they broke the second and third commandments, too. A poor showing, and a warning to us.

When troubles come to our enemies, we shouldn’t gloat. Instead, we should take that kind of event as an opportunity to help them, to do something good for them if they allow it. This is the kind of act that can open the door to the gospel, and any opportunity is a good opportunity. Will your enemy fall victim to an accident? A fire? An earthquake? A tornado? A hurricane? A divorce? Cancer? Something else? What can you do to reach out with the grace of God and the love of Christ to help?

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.