Esau will be stubble, and they will set him on fire and destroy him. There will be no survivors from Esau. (Obad. 18)
The world often has a “me first” mentality, and to show empathy toward another can be seen as weak and misguided, preventing one from achieving one’s personal goals. However, God calls us to have empathy for a broken, sinful world that will one day receive its due punishment.
It is clear in Obadiah that the Edomites were to be judged for their sinful actions and for living a life outside of the will of God. Can you remember when you were living a life of sin and were separated from God? Then you can empathize with the lost, because you experienced living a life without God. Can you remember the feeling of hopelessness and despair as you attempted to survive life’s challenges without God? Then you can empathize with the lost, since you experienced the emotional despair of living life without God.
It is true that all who have been saved from a sinful life and from judgment should have empathy for the lost, because we too were lost at one point in our lives. However, the real question is whether those past experiences will remain primarily reflections of the past, or will they lead to an empathy that results in taking tangible steps to bring the message of good news to those who are lost and who stand in the face of God’s judgment.
Pray for the salvation of those not in a relationship with the Lord.
Brian T. Bernius is an ordained minister and professor of Old Testament and Near Eastern Studies at Indiana Wesleyan University.
© 2022 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.