Seeking Justice in an Unjust World
Obadiah 1–4; 10–17
Over the past few years we have heard the cry, “No justice, no peace.” Frustration with what many view as an unfair and unjust system has boiled over into riots and violence. That leads us to ask: how should a follower of Jesus Christ respond in the face of injustice?
We can look at Micah 6:8 to see what has been described as a “field guide” for following Jesus: “He has shown you, O man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.”
Today’s lesson deals with the sanctity of life. This comes at a time when the U.S. Supreme Court is considering upholding a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Obadiah has written the shortest book in the Bible. His name means “worshipper of Yahweh,” and he has a harsh word of judgment from God against the Edomites, the descendants of Esau.
You will recall that Esau sold his birthright to his conniving brother, Jacob, for a bowl of soup. Lest we deal too harshly with Esau, I’m sure you know someone who has sold out for something just as trivial.
The Edomites were too small to go to war with Judah, but they were glad to join in on the attack of Jerusalem.
Obadiah’s message is God will not forget those who stand by with an arrogant and prideful attitude while others around them are suffering. While it may seem foreign to us, we need look no further than Nazi Germany to observe how an otherwise religious community allowed the mistreatment and genocide of Jews.
An arrogant attitude deceives us and keeps us from seeing reality. (1–4)
Obadiah rails against arrogance and indifference among the people of Edom. He judges them for standing by while the people of Judah have been wrongly invaded and persecuted. Moreover, they hoped to benefit from the bad things that came upon Judah.
Obadiah declares that the Edomites, who have built their homes on the cliffs, will be brought low — they would be destroyed and covered with shame.
The sin of indifference leads to violence and oppression. (10–14)
Generations of Edomites had been raised to think a certain way, either as victim or oppressor. Many situations across the nation and around the world still cry out for justice, even today. We look to the strong to protect the weak, not to gloat for their suffering. Many groups have suffered at the hands of injustice. Sadly, some of this mistreatment has come at the hands of supposedly godly people.
God will work His justice on behalf of the oppressed. (15–17)
As believers, we are called to stand up for what is right, to recognize we are serving as Jesus’ ambassadors. We are called to speak for those with no voice.
Right now, those who have no voice are the unborn, and we must be their voice.
Tomorrow is the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Let us remember his words and example: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Settle the justice issue in your heart with a statement like this: As much as it depends upon me … let it be.
By Don Fugate
Fugate is senior pastor at Foxworthy Baptist Church in San Jose, California.