11While you stood there doing nothing, strangers carried off Jacob’s wealth. Foreigners entered his gates and threw dice for Jerusalem. You acted like one of them. 12Don’t gloat over your relative’s misfortune or be happy when the people of Judah are destroyed. Don’t brag so much when they’re in distress. Obadiah 1:11-12 GWT
The book of Obadiah is a one chapter book in the Old Testament. Nothing is recorded in other books about Obadiah or the timing of his vision from the Lord. Some have calculated the book to be written right after the fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar while others date the time to an earlier invasion by the Philistines. The summary of the vision is the people of Edom gloated and watched as the calamity of Israel happened. Edom will also be destroyed, God will restore Jerusalem once again.
To do nothing (presupposes that you had ability to do something) when injustice is being perpetuated is to be aligned with the one doing the injustice. The inaction is further judged by the motives for the inaction. Obadiah says that Edom gloated over Israel’s misfortune. The words by Edom exhibited the pride in their heart. Thus God was allowing the destruction of Edom because of their arrogance and pride during the destruction of Jerusalem.
Are there injustices happening in which we are standing aloof, doing nothing? Even more damaging could be the expressing idly of our opinions about why the injustices are happening and how some deserve the injustice. All the time, we are doing nothing other than talking about the wrongness of the events.
Guilt will not be a strong enough motivation to keep one engaged in setting the injustice to order. Yes, you could show up to a rally and think you have done something. But attendance in a rally or even holding a sign does not address the arrogance of the heart which may exist within you.
The transformation to action comes in two stages. First, we need to learn to repent. By seeking repentance first, we allow God to turn his holy lamp in our direction first. We allow God to probe our heart, our own thinking, and our actions. Search me, O God and see if there is found in me any wicked way!
This repentance should also include representative confession. This means that we ask God to forgive as a collective group. Many abortions take place in America. When we ask God to forgive our nation, we ask as one who has participated in the wrong doing. As a priest would go before God, he was standing there at the altar representing the sin of all of the people. As believers we have authority to ask God to forgive our nation. “God forgive us, for not valuing the life of the unborn. Forgive us for the shedding of innocent blood. We have sinned and continue to sin. O God, please forgive us!” First person language keeps us free from judging others.
Secondly, to gain the highest motivation for engaging in righting the injustice, one moves to first hand identification. It doesn’t mean that you have to physically experience the exact same thing. It means that you study and meditate on the emotions, reactions, and circumstances that a person was going through during his or her injustice. In the vision of Obadiah, how would you feel about a person who just sat and watched the dismantling of your home, city or country? What hopelessness does a woman feel when she is contemplating ending her child’s life? What does a young black male think when he sees another police shooting? Who cares if a school district is plagued with poverty, failing grades, and the disintegration of family? Am I my brother’s keeper?
James 2:13-16 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good[b] is that?
This brother or sister may have made very bad choices that put them in their place of need. What if it was you, who was asking? How hungry or cold does a person have to be, before someone believes their need is legitimate?
Bad things are happening to people all around us. Sometimes their actions put them in that bad circumstance. Sometimes the innocent are being exploited because there is no one to defend them. The elderly and the orphans are most exposed to this type of cruelty.
Where is the voice of the church, the body of Christ? How does the church begin to lead in service to those who have been victims of injustice? How is the church positioning itself to align with the abused?
You don’t have to be overwhelmed with all injustice. Respond in action with the impression the Lord is giving to you. Be careful that your only response would be to talk about it…Edom was good at talking and yet doing nothing about it.
Let us not be named among those who stood by and watched. May you understand God’s blessing in your life, qualifies you to be a blessing. Engage and give.
Blessings, Love y’all