Arrogance and Downfall

Have you ever wondered why there are people who are so arrogant and self-righteous yet the Lord seems not to care?

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The book of Obadiah is the shortest book in the Old Testament, yet being the shortest doesn’t mean that he has the least message to say. This book assures us, as children of God, that He got us covered, and those who are arrogant has a special place in His judgment.

Have you ever wondered why there are people who are so arrogant and self-righteous yet the Lord seems not to care? Given, there are people who are rude and lawless in their acts, but I am referring to those who think so highly of themselves that they have reached the level of ‘beyond annoying’. Umamin ka na, even once in your life may nakilala kang ganito ang ugali.

This is the case of the Edomites, Israel’s neighbor to the south. The Edomites trace their roots from Esau, Jacob’s older brother. If you are still familiar with your Sunday school story, Esau and Jacob have this sibling rivalry even while they were still in their mother’s womb. They grew up fighting over the attention of their parents, and eventually parted ways when Jacob pretended to be Esau with a stew and goat’s hair and deceived their father. In fact, their family is an excellent source of lessons for parenting and sibling relationships. Good thing, after a very dramatic episode on the latter part of their life, the brothers agreed to embrace peace and forget their rivalry.

However, generations later, their descendants are still in conflict with each other. The Edomites are still hostile with their Israelite cousins. Their hostility led them to think that they are far above and greater than their neighbors. Because they lived in seemingly impregnable cities that were cut out of rock cliffs, they arrogantly felt as if nothing could touch them. Lalo na nang ang kanilang kaaway ay inatake ng ibang bayan, sila ay nagdiwang at nagtawa pa sa sinapit ng iba! O di ba, parang kontrabida lang sa telenovela!

God hates pride so much because it is an overemphasis on self. It is as if saying that we can go along well even without God.

If there is one message that the book of Obadiah wants to tell us, it is that those who are proud will be humbled, those who think so high of themselves will be brought to low, and those who rely too much on their own will soon find their efforts crashing down.

God hates pride so much because it is an overemphasis on self. It is as if saying that we can go along well even without God. The Edomites has adopted this kind of arrogance. They thought they don’t need anyone else, not even God. The Bible says, “pride goes before destruction” – and God issued His verdict through Obadiah that soon enough, the Edomites will receive what their deeds deserve. The pride in their hearts has deceived them and it caused them their downfall.

Now, if you know someone who has the kind of arrogance like the Edomites (o baka naman tayo rin pala ang ganun), remember that God’s primary concern is not to bring them to their destruction; neither are we entitled to condemn. We are to love and pray for them, thinking more of their salvation than their judgment. Keep in mind that God’s judgment is reserved only to those who refuse to acknowledge Him until the end.

petra-782955_1280
The ancient city of Petra, now in ruins.

The history books tell us that Edom did OK for perhaps a hundred years after their final warning from God’s prophets. Then, during the fifth century (400-499) B.C. the “Edomites” were overwhelmed by other Arab groups. In turn, these groups were taken over by the Nabataeans, who started living in the area sometime around 312 B.C. By the way, the Nabataeans, not the Edomites, are the people who cut the temples in the sandstone walls of Petra. Under the Nabataeans, the city of Petra flourished until 106 A.D., when the Romans conquered Petra. From that time it slid into disuse, to the point that Edom was almost uninhabited from the 7th to the 12th century A.D. It revived slightly in the 12th century when the crusaders built a castle there called Sel. Afterward, it remained so forgotten that it had to be rediscovered in 1812 by Swiss traveler Johann. L. Burckhardt. (Source: http://www.clarifyingchristianity.com/fulfill.shtml)

On Pride

It is actually elevating yourself to be in the level of God, or worse better than Him.

God opposes the proud. He hates pride so much that He has a lot to say against it in His Holy Word, the Bible. Pride is among the sins that the Lord hates too much, along with sexual perversity and idol worship (actually, He hates all kind of sin). Why is this so? Is it wrong to find satisfaction in one’s own image, accomplishments, abilities and resources? The thing is, pride drifts us away from focusing more on God and instead we focus on ourselves. We make ourselves an anchor to depend onto, rather than depending on the Lord.

Here are some Scripture verses that speaks how the Lord hates pride.

1. I will break down your stubborn prideLeviticus 26:19
2. For the sins of their mouths, for the words of their lips, let them be caught in their pride. Psalm 59:12
3. When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2
4. Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice. Proverbs 13:10
5. Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18
6. A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor. Proverbs 29:23
7. The LORD Almighty planned it, to bring low the pride of all glory and to humble all who are renowned on the earth. Isaiah 23:9
8. But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory. Daniel 5:20
9. The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished. Proverbs 16:5
10. Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor. Proverbs 18:12

Pride is a serious sin. It is not just about elevating yourself to boost your self-confidence. It is actually elevating yourself to be in the level of God, or worse better than Him.

Standing from a Distance

“No longer do I see myself as condemned but accepted. I am a new creation.”

People know me as the tax collector who beats his chest because I don’t see myself fit to even come before the holiness of the Lord. Yes, I am that tax collector who is helpless, unworthy, a sinner. My kindest acts can never be compared to that guy – people call him a Pharisee – standing proud in the middle of this synagogue, voicing out his prayers to God.

I realized the depravity of my acts. I am drenched in tears, guilt and regrets. There is no more place for me in the society, and no matter how I try to fit myself, I am still labeled as the betrayer, the man who robs his own people.

As he utters his prayer, the sins I have committed in the past dawned on me like arrows piercing my heart. I realized the depravity of my acts. I am drenched in tears, guilt and regrets. There is no more place for me in the society, and no matter how I try to fit myself, I am still labeled as the betrayer, the man who robs his own people. Perhaps I should continue living as such. What do I have to lose by the way? I am on the edge of life. I have lost my integrity, a disgrace to my parents, an object of ridicule in the community. I am lost.

Source: http://www.agnusday.org/comics/232/luke-18-09-14-2004
Source: http://www.agnusday.org/comics/232/luke-18-09-14-2004

But there is an urge in me to come to the presence of God. My grandma has told me stories of His greatness and how He heals the brokenhearted. Her stories of how God parted the sea always amazed me in my formative years. God is also compassionate and loving says my grandma. I really have no regard to God but if He has rescued His people in the past, perhaps He can rescue me. I am sick of this life.

While I am drawing near, I find myself drowned in the middle of scrutiny. People see me not as someone in need of mercy, but in need of judgment. So I just stood from a distance.

Early this morning I went to this place. This is where people meet to discuss ideas, but sometimes they just debate over matters I really don’t care about. While I am drawing near, I find myself drowned in the middle of scrutiny. People see me not as someone in need of mercy, but in need of judgment. So I just stood from a distance. I realized I have no place near the righteousness of the people inside this place.

I tried to focus on what brought me here – my desperate need for grace – not from the people, but from God. The more I unload my guilt upon Him, the more I see my destitute condition. Tears fell from my eyes. My heart sank. The more I draw into the holiness of the Lord, the more I see how filthy my life has been.

As I stood from a distance, a Pharisee took notice of me, and uttered his prayer, making sure that I can hear it clearly: “I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector!”

Source: http://christianitymalaysia.com/wp/pharisee-tax-collector-glad-tidings/
Source: http://christianitymalaysia.com/wp/pharisee-tax-collector-glad-tidings/

His words pierced my ears. There is no better response for me but to beat my chest and admit my sinfulness and hopelessness. “Have mercy on me Lord, for I am a sinner”. Indeed all I need is mercy. I feel like I am a pawn in the hands of the Almighty God. I cried bitterly, yet silently.

Yet deep within me I know there is release. After I have confessed all my sins, I felt as if Someone embraced me from behind. I felt Someone has whispered “I have forgiven you.

And while I am still basking in the euphoria of that divine embrace, no longer have I felt the pain of the past. No longer do I see myself as condemned but accepted. I am a new creation.

You may now go in peace.” Never have I felt so free! Never have I felt so alive! The grace that I was seeking for suddenly dawned at me and it overwhelms me!

And while I am still basking in the euphoria of that divine embrace, no longer have I felt the pain of the past. No longer do I see myself as condemned but accepted. I am a new creation.

In that particular moment, though I’m still standing at a distance from self-righteous men, I know in my spirit I am standing in the presence of a truly righteous Father – sans fear, sans condemnation, sans guilt.