Every leader will ultimately reap what they sow. Read Obadiah 15-18.
The Edomites hated their distant cousins, the Israelites, stemming all the way back to the twin brothers Jacob and Esau, the founders of the two nations. Edom’s hatred generated actions against Israel that came back to haunt them in their day of need. The Edomite leaders chose to misuse their power to harm the Israelites in their moment of need and because they misused their power they ultimately reaped the terror and destruction brought on them by an even more powerful nation.
One God-honoring, God-required use of a leader’s power is to protect the powerless. Read Obadiah 8-14.
The book of Obadiah was written in the mid 800s B.C. prophesying about Edom’s actions both past and future. In the past they had withheld mercy by refusing to allow the tribes of Israel to pass through their land while traveling from Egypt to the Promise Land. In the future, during the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B. C, the Edomites will join with the Babylonians in destroying the people in Jerusalem, they will demonstrate genuine joy that the Jews are being slaughtered, they will take part in the looting of the city and the temple, and they will wait at the river crossings and capture those few that escape Jerusalem and turn them over to the Babylonians for execution. When the Jews were at their most powerless moment the Edomites did not use their power to help them but rather used their power and influence to inflict more pain and suffering.
Leaders who can say, “I’m humble and proud of it,” may not be as humble as they think. Read Obadiah 3-4.
There are many ways for a leader to express pride; some good and some not so good. I am proud of the accomplishments of my children. I am proud to be an American. I am proud of the caring actions for the less fortunate of my church. I am proud of the people I work with. I am proud to be a former Marine. Kept within some reasonable balance these are all positive God-honoring applications of pride. The Edomites had a different form of pride and were judged for it. Verse three says, “The pride of your hearts has deceived you…” This kind of pride is the exact opposite of humility and leads to a form of arrogance that God hates. Those who have this kind of pride have an inappropriate and inflated view of themselves. They attribute their accomplishments to their own efforts and fail to acknowledge that everything they are and have comes from the hand of God. This is a self-sufficient pride that focuses on self and dishonors God.
Leaders can chart their course toward success but it is God who is the source of their success. Read Obadiah 2-4
The nation of ancient Edom was an economically stable nation that drew much of its livelihood from the caravan trade between Egypt, the Mediterranean and southern Arabia. Edom also traded as far away as India and exported salt and balsam (used for perfume and temple incense in the ancient world) from the Dead-Sea region. In addition to their economic wealth Edom was located geographically so that they were hard to invade militarily.
Leaders must avoid destructive rivalry, comparison, and competition. Read Obadiah 1.
Obadiah may be the most obscure of the Old Testament prophets. He was a prophet that lived about 100 years after the reign of Solomon and it is thought he prophesied around 840 B. C. He wrote the shortest book in the Old Testament, just 21 verses, but his indictment of Edom is a timeless lesson for all leaders. Obadiah makes it very clear that pride, arrogance, acts of betrayal, deceit and intent to harm others will not receive God’s blessing and will bring about a leader’s (or a nation’s) downfall.