Obadiah conveys God’s passionate opposition to unbrotherliness because it is deadly and can lead to damnation. We must especially love our brothers and sisters because Christ died not only to save us but to make us a covenant family.
- The Deadly Progression of Unbrotherliness
While “unbrotherliness” is a cumbersome word, it most clearly describes the sin Obadiah is confronting. Someone might not understand “covenant infidelity,” but anyone who has a sibling or even a very close friend knows what unbrotherliness is! It is when someone who is very close to you genetically or relationally disrespects you. We must also understand that sin is always progressive. In this case, it began with passivity. When Jerusalem was being attacked, the Edomites “stood aloof.” The next step of the progression was to “look down” as in looking down one’s nose with despising patronage. It is to consider oneself better than the one being abused. The third step was mockery. The Edomites had so divorced themselves from their brothers that they felt superior enough to mock them in their tragedy. The final step for the Edomites was actually waiting at the crossroads for those Judahites who escaped from the city and mercilessly cutting them down with the sword.
- The Ultimate Judgment of Unbrotherliness
Against this grave sin, God threatens judgment, which will lead to repentance among his elect and damnation on those who refuse. If you have been convicted by the sin of unbrotherliness in your own life, you should be encouraged, because warnings work to bring about repentance in the hearts of those who belong to the Lord. Repent, and do so knowing you still belong to Him. For those who continue in unbrotherliness, God promises damnation. Heaven is for the family of God, only for those who have been “given the right to be called children of God.” So anyone who has God’s DNA (“Christ in us the hope of glory”) loves their brothers and sisters in Christ. Those who refuse to love demonstrate that they are not God’s sons and daughters and will not therefore be found in heaven.
- Can you think of a particular sin in your own life or someone else’s for which a clear progression can be noted? What is the opposite of this deadly progression? How has Christ demonstrated true brotherliness to us?
- Read Matthew 25:31-46. Is there an instance of unbrotherliness in your own life for which you were convicted? How can you repent of this both before God and man?
- How might the fact that God judges the sin of unbrotherliness have been encouraging to the original readers of this passage? What implications does it have for us?