Tag Archives: Obadiah

Unique People for God’s Unique Purposes

The Monuments Men Cover…and [King] Ahab had summoned Obadiah, his palace administrator.(Obadiah was a devout believer in the Lord. While Jezebel was killing off the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had suppliedthem with food and water.) 1 Kings 18:3-4 (NIV)

This past summer I read The Monuments Men by Bret Witter and Robert Edsel. It is the book upon which the movie by the same name was based. One of the more intriguing pieces of the story was person of Rose Valland (Cate Blanchett played a character in the movie based on Valland). There was nothing particularly remarkable about her. She is described as the type of person who blended in and did not attract attention. She was, however, a woman of acute intellect, strong character, and indomitable courage.

Valland found herself a clerk in the midst of the Nazi’s looting of the world’s artistic treasures. A passionate lover of art, she literally risked her life to secretly document which paintings and works of art were stolen and where they were taken. The men who served with the Monuments Men were rightfully praised for their efforts, but were it not for Rose Valland being in the position she held and having the courage to do what she did, many of the world’s great works of art would no longer exist.

As I travel this life journey, I am intrigued to observe how people find themselves uniquely placed in situations and circumstances in which they are able to use their God given gifts and abilities in order to accomplish specific purposes. I thought about Obadiah and Elijah as I read today’s chapter. Here are two very different characters in two very different circumstances who are part of the same events. Elijah the prophet is a reclusive, unpredictable outsider living in the wilderness far away from the centers of political and religious power. Obadiah, on the other hand, is a polished and educated insider working in the administrative heart of the corrupt and evil monarchy. Very different men, very different places, but both uniquely suited to fulfill God’s purposes. God used them both, and they each had a unique job to perform.

I have found that we like to place God, His followers and His purposes into neat little prescriptive boxes that fit our comfortable paradigms. I am reminded this morning by Elijah, by Obadiah, and by Rose Valland, that God uses vastly different individuals of His own choosing and calling to accomplish purposes that lie beyond our comprehension.

 

We are Family

Chapter-a-Day Genesis 36

This is the account of the descendants of Esau (also known as Edom). Genesis 36:1 (NLT)

As I read today’s chapter I couldn’t keep my mind from wandering to “the rest of the story.” All of these descendants of Esau (also known as Edom) would become the Edomites who would live in constant conflict with the descendants of Israel. The prophet Obadiah’s message was against the Edomites. The conflict was between tribes who shared a common ancestor.

That is also true of the conflicts we read about on the internet and see on the television today. The nation of Israel trace their lineage back through Isaac to Abraham. The arab nations trace their lineage back through Ishmael to Abraham. They are all sons of Abraham.

We can cast the net even wider. DNA projects being carried on by National Geographic and other groups are tracing the common genetic strands of everyday people all over the world in order to learn more about how tribes and nations and peoples spread across the earth. What modern genetics has determined is [surprise!] we all, every person on this Earth can trace their genes back to the same woman.

I can also pull the net in close to find this theme played out around me each day. I live in a small Iowa town founded by a small handful of Dutch immigrant families. “Dutch Bingo” is what we call the game that locals play when they start conversationally tracing family trees in order to find a connection. If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard or witnessed casual friends or neighbors playing Dutch Bingo only to find that they are third or fourth cousins and never knew it, I could buy you a Starbucks Grande Latte in Oslo.

I don’t know what to make of it all. I scratch my head and mull it all over as I sip my morning coffee and watch the snow falling outside. The one thing that it does make me appreciate is that we are all connected. I can’t do much about world politics or global conflict, but I can choose each day how I treat my fellow human being family member. I can be a little more deferential to that jerk uptown who drives me nuts. I can choose to respond to a personal attack with grace. I can take that money I’d spend on your Oslo Grande Latte and feed a distant cousin on the other side of the world, help dig a well for a community of far off relatives who daily live without clean water, or help free someone with whom I’m genetically connected from human trafficking.

 

Chapter-a-Day Obadiah 1

But even if you soar as high as eagles
    and build your nest among the stars,
I will bring you crashing down,”
    says the Lord.
Obadiah 1:4 (NLT)

I am a lover of the underdog. I don’t know why it is that I have taken this scourge upon myself, but I have. In baseball season I cheer for MLB’s “loveable losers” the Chicago Cubs who have been cursed to have not one a World Series since 1908. During the football season I cheer for the Minnesota Vikings whom I watched lose four Super Bowls in my childhood and have never seen them return. Even in our own collegiate, in-state rivalry here in Iowa I tend to pull for the underdog Cyclones over the more popular and historically successful Hawkeyes. People will often ask me why I just don’t switch allegiances and go with a “winner.” It takes faith to cheer for the underdog. You gotta believe that the big victory is so much sweeter when it happens.

Of course, the corollary to cheering for the rare underdog victory is the sweetness of watching the mighty fall. I have always enjoyed watching the “sure thing” fall apart. I remember as a kid when the headline on the sports page proclaimed Houston as the winner of the NCAA basketball finals before the championship game was even played. That was before NC State pulled out one of the most improbable upsets in recent sports history. I love it when the “sure thing” proves not to be so sure.

That’s exactly the theme of Obadiah’s message. The nation of ancient Edom built their homes in a network of caves high in the cliffs of the local mountain range. An invading army had no good way of assailing them successfully. And so, the Edomites felt smug and secure in their cliff top caves. Survival was a “sure thing” because no one could reach them up there. Obadiah’s message was a reminder of a constant theme throughout God’s Message:  pride comes before the fall.

Today, I’m reminded to be grateful for all of my blessings. There is nothing that is a “sure thing” in this life. I pray I never get to the point of feeling a smug sense of security (at least I have both the Cubs and Vikings to remind me of that throughout the year).