Failure to Love When Calamity Strikes Another

God hated Esau, even in Rebekah’s womb (Rom 9:13). The man, Esau (means “red”), was Jacob’s elder twin brother. Within this ruddy young hunter was a whole nation, his posterity. Esau’s family settled among the Horites southeast of the Dead Sea.

In the caves and on the elevated fertile plateaus, Edom was prosperous and secure. For 1,000 years before the prophet Obadiah’s pronouncement of doom, Edom lived in the pride of place. It was this arrogance, however, that further invited Yahweh’s disdain.

God covenanted with Abraham and renewed His covenant with Abraham’s son, Isaac (not Ishmael). He again renewed it with Jacob but not Esau. Yahweh loved Jacob who He renamed “Israel.” This covenanted lovingkindness did not parlay Yahweh's discipline of His chosen people. At times, this included slavery in Egypt and captivity in Babylon.

The means of discipline included political intrigue. The nations that interacted with God’s elect nation, Israel, were sporadically employed to execute Yahweh’s discipline. This included Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. God’s holy nation of royal priests, typified in ethnic Israel, will endure the displeasure of foreign powers until the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Pride and arrogance is a mark of the reprobate, but there is also a lack of love because, like Edom, they are not recipients of God’s love — being void of the Holy Spirit, who is love (1 Jn 4:8).

Jacob and Esau were brothers. Their offspring were family. For us, they represent the elect and the reprobate. The difference is God’s purpose in bringing glory to Himself, by revealing His dealings with both kinds of people. We must never loose the fact that God made both kinds of people to be vessels for the display of both His just judgment and His will to have mercy.

Jesus taught His disciples that the world would know them by their love for one another. Love is the attribute of God displayed most vividly in Jesus’ sacrificial death on the Cross, in the place of and for the benefit of God’s chosen people. Jesus endured the wrath of God, in the punishment for the sins and profound love of God, set apart from all other versions of love.

When the enemies of Judah brought distress and destruction upon Jerusalem, where were the sons of Esau? They were not loving their neighbor as themselves. Instead, they were encouraging the destroyers and even participating in the looting. Instead of helping the refugees, they were hindering them. There is no love for God in the heart of the wicked (Jn 5:42). There is only jealously, envy, and self-interest.

The charge against the Edomites (later called “Idumeans”) warranted the pronounced punishment to come upon them (Obadiah 1–9). Yahweh promised to bring them down from their lofty heights and to reduce them to stubble that would be burned with fire. As a people, they would be cut off to the point of extinction.

Following the destruction of Jerusalem by Roman General Titus, the Idumeans were eliminated and no longer had an existence as a people. The progeny of hated Esau were brought low in fulfillment of God’s Word of prophecy through Obadiah, the prophet.

An ominous close awaits the reader of the shortest book in the Old Testament. It is the broadening of the prophetic Word to include all nations (v. 15). In truth, there is only one nation under God. It is the church of Christ, His holy nation, the Israel of God (Is 49:1–6; Gal 6:16; 1 Pet 2:9). All other nations rage against God and against His anointed (Ps 2). Why do they rage?

The nations are all in rebellion against the Almighty. They are pawns in His omnipotent hand. Under the schemes of the evil ruler of this world, Satan, the nations reflect the characteristics of Edom. God hates those who do iniquity (Ps 5:5; 11:5), as He did with Edom.

In His love and mercy, God is plundering every nation, calling out His remnant chosen people and transferring them into the kingdom of His beloved Son (Col 1:13). As He pours out His love in their hearts by the Spirit of God (Rom 5:5), the love from Him is manifest in the children of God, especially when calamity strikes.

God is glorified when His love and kindness reconcile an enemy. This love is on display wherever God’s Spirit moves God’s people to minister to those in need. There are physical needs to be met, and there are spiritual needs. These diverse needs are akin to one another. Love abounds in both realms. Love never fails (1 Cor 13:8).

Examine yourself, my dear reader. In this matter of love, have you received it from God? Does the love of Christ compel you to love God and others…even your enemies? The greatest commandment is to love God with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. This becomes evident by the practice of the second greatest commandment — to love your neighbor as yourself.

To see your brother in need, as Edom saw Israel, and to close your heart to him is sin. Loving others, as we do ourselves, means we are ready to sacrifice what we have to give in order to come to their aid on the day of trouble. This is how we know we have God’s love in our hearts (1 Jn 3:16–17).

May God grant you the grace to love others as Christ loved you and gave Himself for you as a member of His body, His church. May others see this love and note how different it truly is in covering a multitude of sins.

David Norczyk

Missoula, Montana

October 23, 2022

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David Norczyk

Some random theologian out West somewhere, Christian writer, preacher