Daily Devotion – May 19, 2020 – Pastor Brian Hansen
Obadiah 1: 15
“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.”
The book of Obadiah is found toward the back of the Old Testament and it is one of shortest books in the Bible comprising of only one chapter. This book is written in response to actions of the Edomites during Babylon’s conquest of the land of Israel. This short work is made up of a vision of the Justice that God will do upon the Edomites for betraying a brother nation. Obadiah suggests that the acts of treachery that the people of Edom have perpetrated on the people of Israel will be returned by God upon them.
I’m not entirely certain that Obadiah’s response to suffering is a helpful response, however, it is a human response. When we feel injured or betrayed, most of the time our first inclination is a desire for revenge. We want those who have hurt us to get what they deserve. And yet, I’m not certain that God responds to actions that harm in the same way that we do. In fact, God’s response to anger and suffering is not returning evil for evil but rather responding to evil with love. When we demand justice for our pain, God responds with forgiveness. When we insist on retribution, God suggests reconciliation. When we want those who hurt us to hurt, God instead takes our pain upon God’s self and offers us healing, wholeness and love.
I think Martin Luther King Jr. summed up best how we are invited to try to live into the love of God in response to the suffering and pain we at times receive at the hands of our neighbors. I’d like to end today’s devotion with his quote. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
God of light, help us to respond to the fear, suffering and anger we at times experience, not with hate or feelings of revenge, but with love. Guide us by your Spirit and shape our hearts as your own, for we ask in Jesus’ name. AMEN