Thursday, July 12, 2012

When God Snaps (Obadiah vv. 1c-4)

Thus says Adonai concerning Edom:
                I will diminish you among the nations.
                   You will be utterly despised.
                Your arrogant heart has lead you astray,
                   you who live in mountain clefts,
                whose home is in the heights,
                   you say in your heart,
                   “Who is able to bring me down to the ground?”
                Though you soared like the eagle,
                   and built your nest among the stars,
                I will fling you down again –
                   it is Adonai who speaks
Obadiah vv. 1c-4

“The Revenge” bronze and patina 27x35x34 inches
Cedric Loth @

Vengeful snapping is a sweet and tasty morsel in the mouth of those starved for equality. Here is a passage that speaks to God’s anger and God’s resolution to snap at Edom. “Though you soared like the eagle … I will fling you down…”

Edom must have done something heinous to bring the wrath of the Lord God Almighty upon her head. Yet, when we probe the other verses of this book it becomes clear that Edom’s great offense is what she did not do. While Judah her neighbor was being pillaged by Babylon, Edom stood by silent and inactive.

In defense of Edom I am not sure what she could have done against the military might of Babylon. No doubt she would have round up like Judah, plundered and exiled. No one dare brook the influence of Babylon. Yet, the Sacred is not concerned with whether or not Edom would have succeeded. The concern is that during a time which called for solidarity and mutual support, Edom chickened out. This did not go unnoticed by God and now revenge – that sweet tasty morsel – will be savored.

There are those who seek such revenge for our own humiliation. Being laughed and jeered at while family, friends, religion, and law silently stand by tends to leave us wanting to savor the sweet taste of a flurried snap. Who would not jump at the chance to repay those who added to our misery? Yes, revenge upon all those cruel and repulsive people would be a sweet and tasty morsel.

Such revenge as noted in the sculpture "The Revenge" though causes us just as much trouble as the person we seek revenge upon. While the fisherman certainly gets his comeuppance, the life of the swordfish is forever changed, possibly costing the fish its own life as well. And such revenge is empty and hollow. Justice – the recognition that we are all equals – is not served by a shallow snapping or a simple letting of anger and rage. Although there is a place for such venting, if those oppressed are ever to enjoy a voice among equals.

Obadiah speaks of God’s vengeance – not ours. Obadiah gives me hope. God sees my humiliation, hears’ my cry, and in a timing beyond my understanding, acts in just vengeance so that integrity is served.


  1. I have a question regarding your point of view regarding Sodom & Gamorrah, why is it that u claim that it was a hospitality thing (I agree) but then mention the arguement of the God wanting procreation which is contradictory to the Jesus thing of the end being near & to not waste time having kids & rearing them & it being much better to be celibate? I couldn't comment on that page coz it didn't have a comment section.

    1. Hi -

      I understand about the lack of comment space on the "pages." Unfortunately they are not provided in the template so thanks for seeking out another place to raise your good questions.

      For the sake of clarity, it appears that there has been some linkage of biblical themes that I do not approach in the post under discussion. For example I never spoke about Jesus' teachings on marriage. I say this only to note that I'm not quite sure of the route which formulated your question and fear the route of my answer may miss something. So always feel free to engage in deeper conversation if my answer falls short :)

      I did not feel that I was making a claim that God wanted procreation. If you are refering to the Abraham-Sarah motif you are correct in that procreation and the whole birth-of-a-nation is a huge issue in that cycle of stories. It is brilliantly explored by Jack Miles in his book "God:A Biography."

      I mention this issue in my post only to give the context and contrast for two types of hospitality. It was not my intent to suggest that the sole concern of God in these texts is porcreation. Rather I had aimed at showing that hospitality is also a major concern of God in these stories.

      The second part of your question cocerning the Hebrew Scriptures empahsis on procreation and the Greek Scritures empahsis on celibacy was not broached at all in the post under conversation but was alluded to in the post on the Levitical and Pualine proscription agains homosexual acts. Which is a different set of scripture than those considered in the Sodom and Gomorrah post.

      This second post, among other things, werstles with continuing relvelation and the room needed for us to allow for God to speak one way in the history of the world, and speak another way at a later point of history. My remark was concernced with the canundrum can God still speak of unfettered procreation in a world in which overpopulation by humans is one of the things endangering creation?

      My personal answer is that to be faithful, I need not only hear what God spoke in the past, but also hear what God is speaking now given the realities and issues of our time, lightyears removed from the culture out of which the scriptures arose.

      If your own quandary is born out of reading the two pages back-to-back, and wondering how they mesh, I may be of little help. I wrote them at seperate times and did not have one in mind while working on the other and so in my own mind did not feel a need to justify the how the two themes of hospitality and procreation play out in the bible. Although it would make a worthy exploration, I confess it's one I haven't sought out. And would ask what you perceive in this area.

      I am not positive I've addressed your question - please let me know if I haven't and I'll try again.