The basic reality of human pride
The basic reality of human pride, indifference toward others, cruelty, and so on followed by judgment is written large over human history.
This pattern of retributive justice has been so clearly imprinted on the life of mankind that no one can claim in eternity that he or she did not know that such sins would be judged. It is the story of our world, whether we are speaking of nations, of generals and armies, of companies and corporations, or of individuals.
The Assyrians overwhelming pride and violence toward others was followed by her utter destruction at the hands of the Babylonians, whose pride was, in turn, made to look ridiculous by the Persians, who in turn were punished by the Greeks, who were conquered by the Romans, who were in turn conquered by the…well, you get the picture.
Napoleon’s raging pride led him to imagine himself the ruler of all Europe, but he ended his life alone in exile on a windswept island in the south Atlantic.
And in the 20th century, how many proud armies marched to war only to return — if they did return — to devastated homelands to attempt to pick up the pieces of their shattered dreams.
And nothing is more certain than that the same thing will happen to the United Kingdom, whose overweening pride and contempt for the law of God will doom her to some ignominious end sooner or later. Edom thought herself so fortunate in her friends, Babylon especially. She had finally been able to get payback for all she had suffered at the hands of Israel.
Little did she know that in a few years Babylon would come for her, her national existence would come to an end, and her people, at least those who survived, would be scattered among other peoples and nations. Edom as a nation was soon to disappear!
Such is the story of mankind, the little story and the big story. And such is the message of the Bible. God is the God of the entire world. The nations belong to Him. They are as we read in Isaiah 40 “a drop in the bucket before Him.”
They are subject to His laws, no matter how much they may flaunt them. God has woven into the fabric of human history the principle of retributive justice precisely to warn us all that justice is what we must face whether as nations or as individuals.
His justice is exact and the punishment will fit the crime in every case. Or as Jesus would later say, some will be beaten with many stripes and some with few.
A nation or a person knows little to nothing of any importance if it or if he or she does not know this! Anyone who takes a genuinely serious view of life must reckon with the reality of judgment because judgment is everywhere in human life. Everywhere, and all the time.
What is more this principle is deeply fixed in the human heart, however little human beings may apply it to themselves. We want the wicked to be punished. In our national life, in our political life, in our individual life, we want wickedness, we want injustice, we want evil of all kinds to be judged. We want vengeance.
There is often a selfish disdain for others in the human desire for vengeance, for the punishment of others. That must be admitted. Men and women often want revenge, not justice. Revenge can be a proud and selfish thing.
But the desire for vengeance can be rightly motivated and vengeance can be the execution of real justice. We know that because the Lord himself executes vengeance.
“‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ saith the Lord.”
When we read the martyred saints in heaven, crying out to the Lord,
“How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?”
We are forced to reckon with the fact that just judgment, retributive punishment, punishment that fits a crime, is at last a good and necessary thing. God has taught us to think so in many ways but also here in Obadiah.
Human pride must be brought low, not only because it is ugly and evil in itself, not only because it is an offense to God, not only because it is the biggest and most brutally destructive of humanity’s big lies, but because God’s people, you and I, cannot receive their promised inheritance apart from the execution of God’s justice. God will mete out justice, of that be assured.
Ultimately our final destiny will be Heaven or hell. Hell for those who reject God’s mercy in this life and Heaven for those who cry out for forgiveness and repent of their sins accepting Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Lord. You must decide yourself as God has given each one of us a free will. I pray you decide for Christ. Amen
By Pastor Eileen Miller