Social Cruelty from Generation to Generation
Obadiah 1:12-16
But you should not have looked on the day of your brother in the day that he became a stranger…

But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger, etc. Here we have a sketch of the workings of this cruelty towards Judah when he was in great distress, suffering, and peril.


1. The lack of sympathy when Judah was in distress. "Thou shouldest not have looked," etc. Greatly did Judah need Edom's sympathy at this time. "Strangers carried away captive their forces;" Babylon entered their country and their city and carried them away as captives. Foreigners entered into his gates and cast lots upon Jerusalem. The city, after a long siege, was broken up; and the great officers of the King of Babylon came and sat at the gates and cast lots on the spoils of Jerusalem. It was indeed a "day of calamity," as it is three times expressed in these verses. Terrible and never to be forgotten was that day when Babylon came with all its forces into Judaea, entered the city, and bore away as captives the inhabitants. Now, in their distress, how did Edom their brother act? They stood and looked carelessly on. Want of sympathy with suffering is a sin in the sight of God. Heaven denounces men, not only for the evil they actually perpetrate, but for the neglect of the good they ought to accomplish. These Edomites were like the priest and the Levite.

2. Positive rejoicing when Judah was in distress. It is said, "they rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of destruction," they "spoke proudly in the day of distress." They seem to have gloated over their afflictions.

3. Participation in the work of their enemies. They laid their hands on their substance, they cut off those that did escape, they delivered up those that did remain in the clay of their distress. Social cruelty ever has had, and still has, many forms of working. Cold indifference, malignant rejoicing, as well as positive inflictions. See the charge brought against the Edomites on this occasion (Psalm 137:7; Ezekiel 25:12).

II. OMNISCIENCE OBSERVES IT IN ALL ITS FORMS. God's eye was on the Edomites, noted not only their positive acts, but the workings of their inner souls. Sin in all its operations is evermore under the eye of Omniscience. He knows the way each spirit takes. He searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all their thoughts. The ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth their doings; they "are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." This fact, for an incontrovertible fact it is, should be practically realized. And if practically realized it will have a fourfold effect on the soul.

1. It will stimulate to great spiritual activity. When the eye of an intelligence falls right on us, the glance stirs the soul What soul could sleep if it felt the eye of God ever resting on it?

2. It will restrain from the commission of sin. Did we feel his eye ever on us, should we yield to temptation? "Thou God seest me" is a powerful preventive.

3. It will excite the desire for pardon. God has seen all the errors and sins of the past, and they are great m number and enormity. Since he sees them, they must be either punished or absolved.

4. It will brace the soul in the performance of duty. Moses "endured as seeing him who is invisible." He knows our trials and our difficulties. Therefore let us be magnanimous under trial and brave in danger. Of God all-seeing, "What can escape his eye, deceive his heart omniscient?"

III. A JUST AND TERRIBLE RETRIBUTION AWAITS IT IN ALL ITS FORMS. "The day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head," etc. Retribution is a settled law in the material universe. "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." There is a rebound in every sin. No crime has ever been committed that does not come back with a terrible rebound on the soul of the author. "They shall drink, and they shall swallow down." To swallow up and to be swallowed up is the world's destiny. - D.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress.

WEB: But don't look down on your brother in the day of his disaster, and don't rejoice over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction. Don't speak proudly in the day of distress.

Edom as Babylon
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