TODAY’S READING: OBADIAH
“For the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations. As you have done, it shall be done to you; your deeds shall return on your own head.” – Obadiah 1:15
The day of the Lord is a day of light.
John 1:4-5 says, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
John 3:19 says, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”
1 John 1:5 says, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”
While he was in the world, Jesus was the light of the world. His light shined in the evil of men. The evil of men could not darken Jesus’ light.
God is light. He is goodness. God does not do evil to us.
The evil we experience is a result of our own darkness, our own evil, coming back upon us.
Yet, God is in the midst of that darkness, shining his light, his goodness upon us.
Verse 15 in Obadiah reminds me of Psalm 7:14-16, which says, “Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies. He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole he has made. His mischief returns upon his own head, and on his own skull his violence descends.”
“On his own skull his violence descends” makes me think of the cross. For, Jesus was crucified at Golgotha, which means place of the skull. It was the violence of men that drove the cross into Golgotha in order for it to stand upright so that Jesus could be crucified on it. So, when I read this I picture my own violence, my own evil, my own wickedness, driving the cross into my own skull.
My evil returns upon my own head.
However, this on its own does not reveal the wonder of the cross.
What makes the evil that you and me did to Jesus on the cross so wonderful are the words he spoke from the cross. “Father, forgive them, for they know now what they do.”
So, as we are crucifying Jesus, doing violence to him, he cries out for our forgiveness, which causes our own violence and the cross to pierce our own skull.
I think we have all experienced a situation where we have been evil, mean, or wicked to someone, but they respond with kindness. At the very least, this causes our mind to stop in its tracks because kindness is not the response we expect to wickedness. It is so out of the norm of what expect that the returning of good for evil creates a cognitive dissonance in our minds. It is this dissonance in our minds that has the power to snap us out of evil stupor and cause us to change our thinking and our actions.
The cross is one of those little experiences we have all had magnified to the nth degree. And, this is why God does not do evil to us. Evil will never cause us to change our thinking and the way we act because we expect evil to be done to us. But, what we don’t expect goodness, mercy, kindness to be done to us, especially when we know we have been evil and wicked to someone else.
Therefore, Romans 2:4 says, Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?”
God’s kindness, mercy, and forgiveness expressed through Jesus on the cross is meant to jar our thinking so that we repent, so that we change our minds. Therefore, God’s kindness causes our own evil to come back on our own heads.
This is what the wrath of God is. It’s not evil or death or destruction done to us. It’s a burning within us created by the cross that reveals our own wickedness to us.
Isn’t that painful?
This is what Paul means in Romans 12:19-20 when he says, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by doing so you will heap burning coals on his head.”
No vengeance we could ever attempt to take to repay someone can have the effect of the cross of Jesus Christ,the ultimate act of returning good for evil, on someone’s thinking.