But you should not have gloated over the day of your brother
in the day of his misfortune;
you should not have rejoiced over the people of Judah
in the day of their ruin;
you should not have boasted
in the day of distress.
Obadiah was a prophet sent to the people of Edom. Edom was descended from Esau, the brother of Jacob. Hence, Edom and Israel were closely related “brother nations.” There was animosity between the two, and the fault was not always Edom’s. Indeed, the tension between the two dates back to Jacob’s theft of Esau’s birthright. So it was not a mystery why they were often at odds. But blood still is (or at least ought to be) thicker than water, which is why Obadiah (and God) was incensed when Edom gloated over Israel’s defeat, deportation, and captivity. The hatred of a brother for a brother is more bitter and evil than the hatred of strangers for one another. As Solomon said, “He who troubles his own house, shall inherit the wind” and Jesus said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” The nation of Edom divided the house of its father Isaac by its hatred of Israel. On this Inauguration Day, let Americans learn from Edom’s mistake in the aftermath of the recent acrimonious elections and speak to their neighbors out of humility, mercy, and love. And let America’s neighbors not gloat, but pray that their brother nation (and all nations are brother nations) will return to the Lord.
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