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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Final Two Strategies! Whew!

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Today, we're coming to the final two self-protective sinful strategies of the Edomites and possibly us! They are wisdom and strength. Here's Obadiah 8-9:

“Will I not on that day,” declares the Lord,
“ Destroy wise men from Edom
And understanding from the mountain of Esau?
 “Then your mighty men will be dismayed, O Teman,
So that everyone may be cut off from the mountain of Esau by slaughter.
Do you remember Eliphaz, the chief of Job's "friends"? He was a Temanite. The capital city of Teman, mentioned in verse 9, was named after the grandson of Esau and is located in the southern portion of Edom. The Edomites, including the Temanites, were famous for their wisdom. 

In fact, even Jeremiah talks about the wisdom of the Temanites/Edomites in Jeremiah 49:7:  
Concerning Edom.
Thus says the Lord of hosts,
“Is there no longer any wisdom in Teman?
Has good counsel been lost to the prudent?
Has their wisdom decayed?
The Temanites were also recognized for their courage. The Edomites felt secure in both their wise men and their mighty men.

The other self-protective sinful strategies the Edomites had (pride, geographical protection, wealth, and alliances) are easy to spot as sinful. Wisdom and strength/might don't seem quite so obviously sinful. After all, aren't those good things? God calls us to have wisdom and even says He'll respond to a request for wisdom (James 1:5). We are supposed to be strong in the Lord and Philippians 4:13 says we can do all things through Christ.

It shouldn't surprise us, though, that what can be "good" and even valued in us as Christians can also become a sinful strategy. It's dependent, as I've said before, upon our heart. What is our motive? Are we depending upon the "smarts" and "might" instead of the Lord? That's the key. Am I thinking:
  • "If I get my degree, I'm guaranteed a good job." 
  • "If I do my exercises, I'm guaranteed I'll protect my body from getting hurt."
  • "If I have my quiet time, temptation won't overwhelm me."
All those things are "good," but if we are depending upon them as guarantees, then it becomes a sinful strategy. Wonder if God would receive more glory through our joblessness? Wonder if God would receive more praise through injury? Wonder if we'll depend upon God more through being tempted?

The wisdom of God is upside down from this world's wisdom. God's kind of might and strength are upside down from this world's might and strength. The first shall be last; the last will be first. Jesus came as a servant, even though He is a ruler. God calls us to do nothing to earn salvation, He offers it as a free gift in Christ. The humble shall be lifted up and the proud dismayed. 

God's way seems strange to us because we can so easily be swayed by the world's messages. And that's why we need to pay attention to what is happening in our lives now. Do you remember where this journey into the self-protective sinful strategies started? In
Galatians 6:7, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap." Then we went to Obadiah 15: "For the day of the Lord draws near on all the nations. As you have done, it will be done to you. Your dealings will return on your own head."

Because we can be swayed, even deceived, by the world's "wisdom" and "might," we need to pay attention to the challenges and situations God is allowing in our lives. They may be pointing us to some hidden strategy we are protecting. We looked at examples like:

A man faces the contempt of a friend who will not forgive; it turns out he has a lot of bitterness in his own life.
A woman can't understand the anger of a family member toward her; yet she is angry with a friend from the past.
A man has a super-critical boss who is never satisfied with his work; yet his children would say he still hasn't accepted them in their imperfections.

Now we can more easily identify whether they are pointing us to  the possible self-protective sinful strategies of:
  • pride
  • physical or geographical location
  • wealth
  • alliances/friends/People Pleasing
  • wisdom
  • might/strength
Thank you for walking this journey with me. Who would have thought the one chapter book of Obadiah would have reaped so much to consider? 

Oh Lord, open our eyes to the self-protective sinful strategies that we depend upon instead of You. Thank you that you are always wanting to forgive us and cleanse us. To know that there is no condemnation even when we struggle is so comforting. We praise You for your gracious mercy and love. Strengthen us with your might and give us your kind of wisdom. May you be glorified through it all. I pray in Jesus' Name. Amen.

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