In our study of this prophecy, we will look at the past, present, and future consequences of pride. Although little is known of the prophet and it is the shortest book of the Bible, he had a very important message for Edom and for us as well.
The vision of Obadiah. This is what the Sovereign Lord says about Edom - We have heard a message from the Lord: An envoy was sent to the nations to say, 'Rise, and let us go against her for battle' - 'See, I will make you small among the nations; you will be utterly despised.'
The majority of this book concerns the land of Edom and so we must get to understand who they were. The Edomites were descendants of Esau who was Isaac's firstborn son and the brother of Jacob (Israel). As the oldest son, he was to be Isaac's heir but he sold that birthright to his brother Jacob for a bowl of soup (see Genesis 25). The Lord had told Rebekah that the oldest of her twin sons would serve the younger and that they were two separate nations. After eating the soup, Esau despised his brother for taking his birthright and so began a long history of strife between the two nations.
'The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, "Who can bring me down to the ground?" Though you soar like the eagle and make your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,' declares the Lord.
Now, we see the charge that is brought against Edom and it is pride. There are several places in the Bible where we see that God hated Esau but this is the only place that answers the question of why. Pride is an attitude that says that we have the ability to live without God. This is in fact elevating ourselves to the place of God and is the exact reason that Satan was cast out of heaven. The Edomites lived in the mountainous area south of Judah. They were in the mountains and elevating themselves just like man tried to do with the Tower of Babel (see Genesis 11). Just as God brought down Satan, He says that Edom will also be cast down.
'If thieves came to you, if robbers in the night - Oh, what disaster awaits you - would they not steal only as much as they wanted? If grape pickers came to you, would they not leave a few grapes? But how Esau will be ransacked, his hidden treasures pillaged!'
The destruction of Edom is complete as it is compared to a thief and a harvester. The thief and the harvester leave at least a portion behind but there is no remnant of Edom left to this day.
'All your allies will force you to the border; your friends will deceive and overpower you; those who eat your bread will set a trap for you, but you will not detect it.'
Now, God reveals the tools that will be used to dismantle the Edomite kingdom. They had made friends with the Babylonians and they would turn on them.
'In that day,' declares the Lord, 'will I not destroy the wise men of Edom, men of understanding in the mountains of Esau? Your warriors, O Teman, will be terrified, and everyone in Esau's mountains will be cut down in the slaughter.'
In these times, the wise men of Edom said that their defeat was impossible but God declared that they would be completely destroyed. We see that the once proud army would turn in fear.
'Because of the violence against your brother Jacob, you will be covered with shame; you will be destroyed forever.'
Now, we begin the list of five consequences of a life with pride. The first is violence as proud people seek to conquer and will preserve their place in life at all cost. We see that, here, as Edom (Esau) turned on his own brother Jacob (Israel) and so God judged them and they were conquered by Babylon to the point that you do not even hear of Edomites anymore. We look around the world today and see much violence. What is the cause of it? If we look deep enough, we will see that all of the struggles are because of the pride of an individual leader or a group of people. Men cannot get along when there is pride at work and that is why the search for peace will not be successful until Jesus returns.
On the day you stood aloof while strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them.
The second consequence of a life of pride is a lack of concern for others especially the weak and the poor. As we see here, Edom stood by while Jerusalem was attacked.
You should not look down on your brother in the day of his misfortune, nor rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their destruction, nor boast so much in the day of their trouble.
The third consequence of a life of pride is that you will find yourself happy about the trouble of others instead of showing compassion. Not only did Edom stand by while their brother was attacked but they rejoiced in it. The same is true today even in the church as many secretly rejoice at the struggles that a brother or sister are going through and might even gossip about it.
You should not march through the gates of my people in the day of their disaster, nor look down on them in their calamity in the day of their disaster, nor seize their wealth in the day of their disaster.
The fourth consequence of a life of pride is dishonesty in business and stealing from others. As we see, Edom did not only stand by and watch their brother fall but they looked to profit by picking up the pieces. That is the same type of thing that happens in our world today as, when a crisis occurs, there are these big businessmen just licking their chops at the idea of profiting on the backs of others.
You should not wait at the crossroads to cut down their fugitives, nor hand over their survivors in the day of their trouble.
The fifth consequence of a life of pride is that sooner or later you will find that you have been on the side of the enemy which is Satan. Edom not only stood by while their brother was attacked but actually took part in handing over those who were escaping.
'The day of the Lord is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head. Just as you drank on my holy hill, so all the nations will drink continually; they will drink and drink and be as if they had never been.'
Pride will be judged. Now, the prophet tells us of the last days and we see that it is a time of drunkenness as people drink and do drugs to escape the horror of those days. As we see in Revelation 6, they cannot escape the horror through death and so they try to numb themselves.
'But on Mount Zion will be deliverance; it will be holy and the house of Jacob will possess its inheritance. The house of Jacob will be a fire and the house of Joseph a flame; the house of Esau will be stubble, and they will set it on fire and consume it. There will be no survivors from the house of Esau.' the Lord has spoken.
We see that God makes a clear distinction between His people and others. This was fulfilled as God's people live on while you do not see any descendants of Esau. It also speaks of the fact that from the house of Jacob would come the deliverer who is Jesus Christ.
People from the Negev will occupy the mountains of Esau, and people from the foothills will possess the land of the philistines. They will occupy the fields of Ephraim and Samaria, and Benjamin will possess Gilead. This company of Israelite exiles who are in Canaan will possess the land as far as Zarephath; the exiles from Jerusalem who are in Sepharad will possess the towns of the Negev. Deliverers will go up on Mount Zion to govern the mountains of Esau. And the kingdom will be the Lord's.
The final result of the pride of Edom is that they were defeated and all of the land was returned to God's people. This passage also speaks of the coming time when the pride of Satan and his followers on this earth will be dealt with. As we see here, the kingdom will be turned over to Jesus and His people and this is talking about the thousand year reign described in Revelation 20.