The vision of Obadiah. Thus says the Lord GOD concerning Edom: We have heard a report from the LORD, and a messenger has been sent among the nations: “Rise up! Let us rise against her for battle!” Behold, I will make you small among the nations; you shall be utterly despised, the pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in your lofty dwelling, who say in your heart, who will bring me down to the ground?” Though you soar aloft like the eagle, though your nest is set among the stars, from there I will bring you down, declares the LORD – Obadiah 1:1-4
Really Brad!? How does this have anything to do with Christ’s first advent? It certainly is not a prophetic foretelling of his birth; it is not an allusion to His coming or His mission to overthrow the Roman Empire; there are no promises relating to the Christ event at all… so what does this have to do with Christ at all much less His advent.
The answer is not found so much in direct prophetic Scripture, nor the rise and fall of any particular kingdom. It also portrays any relationship or nuance to the “Christmas narratives” and is never referenced as a cross reference to any text in those same narratives. The text does introduce us to the descendants of Esau (Jacobs’s twin brother). The Edomite’s had constant battle with God’s chosen people. The rejected Moses request to pass through their land (Numb. 20:14-20); the opposed King Saul (1 Sam. 14:47); the fought David (1 Kings 11:14-17); challenged Solomon (2 Chron. 21:8) and several other kings. The Edomite’s seemed to have issues with everyone. They were their own masters and were not afraid to take anyone on that challenged their own sovereignty.
But what this text does is catch a recurring theme in the Scriptures that does align with Christ’s coming. The constant rebellion and arrogance of mankind to build their own kingdoms, take great pride in their own magnificent accomplishments; they are proud to be their own sovereign directing the success of their own existence. The Lord sees that arrogance and pride and promises to reduce them to nothing, “to make you small among the nations” (v. 2). Only a true powerhouse of a nation will be able to take them down and reduce them to nothing, but all at the subtle and invisible direction of God Himself.
In a way, the advent of Christ challenges the arrogance and pride of humanity. Certainly it challenged Herod who had a splendid and glorious picture of his own magnificence. The pride of a powerful Roman nation spoke to their own success and ingenuity; they were the most powerful nation on the face of the earth at the time. The Christ event was God’s supreme declaration in the face of human pride that “the foolishness of God is wiser than men and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Cor. 1:25). Christ becomes to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Gentiles, foolishness. Yet in the advent of Christ, God condemns and challenges all the arrogance, pride, success and sovereignty of humanity to declare his own sovereignty in His Son.
Only those who bow the knee before the Son will be accepted by the Father. God will, ultimately, humble all who war against His rule and the Christ event is God’s supreme declaration of His sovereignty – Christ’s inaugural beginnings, humble. Lowly, unassuming, become veil behind which the strength and power of God will rise up and conquer all human pride and arrogance. In some respect Christmas can give us a perspective of our ultimate “smallness” and insignificance in light of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
For me, nothing corrects my perspective about my “smallness” in the universe than the coming of Christ. Nothing reminds me that all my achievements and success are meaningless in light of the purpose of Christ. All my efforts to make something of myself are pointless in light of God’s design. Not only does God demonstrate the meticulous nature of His purpose as He brings the prophetic fulfillment of so many promises of coming Messiah, but it demonstrates the magnificence of His love to an arrogant and prideful world. If Christmas does nothing else, may it bring us to a posture of humility and gratitude that God in His sovereignty does not throw us down and conquer us, but with His kindness He saves us in the person of His Son.
In His magnificent grace,
Pastor Brad Little