Have you ever noticed that some weaknesses, even sins, seem to run in families? It’s true and it’s Biblical. Consider our Father of Faith: Abraham. He was caught lying about his wife to the Egyptian pharaoh (Gen. 12:13) and that sin continued in his son Isaac. This sin is repeated in exactly the same way (Gen. 26:7)! And let’s not forget the next generation, Jacob. He lied concerning his brother Esau in order to steal the firstborn inheritance. Stay with me because next in line we have Jacob’s sons, continuing the generational sin, lying about their brother, Joseph.
One last example is King David who surrendered to his sexual weakness (Bathsheba) and in the next generation we have his son, Amnon, who raped his sister Tamar. There’s a variety of sins available to be passed down: anger, fear, addictions, rebellion, depression … I’m sure you see them in your own family as I do.
How do generational sins impact our view of the book of Obadiah? This prophet was called by God to prophesy to the nation of Edom. We learn within the Bible that Edom is the land of Esau. Remember the story of Jacob and Esau mentioned earlier? Generational sins or curses can be passed down through four generations, scripture tells us (Ex. 20:5, 34:5-7; Num. 14:17-19; Dt. 5:9-10), unless someone does something about it.
Interestingly, King Herod, the ruler who ordered the murder of all male Jewish babies in Bethlehem, hoping to eliminate Jesus, was an Idumean, also called an Edomite. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Generational sin.
God is declaring judgment on Edom, Israel’s enemy, because of the way they treated His chosen people. God is crystal clear: you harvest what you plant (vs. 15) and Edom’s seed was rebellion. God promised restoration for Israel (also called the house of Jacob) but for the house of Esau there is imminent destruction. If Edom represents all of Israel’s enemies, therefore God’s enemies, then it would be appropriate for them to change the way they view and treat her. That’s as true today as it was in Obadiah’s day.
Where do we find Jesus in Obadiah? First, we find Him in the closing verse indicating that on That Day Jesus will return and set up His Kingdom. That’s the good news. The bad news is that nations who continue to oppose her will have no survivors (vs. 18).
We also find Jesus within our hearts prompting us to recognize any generational sin apparent in our lives, confess it, and receive His deliverance and forgiveness. True repentance is the cure. The effects of ‘family sins’ may be obvious or hidden away in our hearts but destructive, nonetheless. God desires us to be free and promises that He will remember His covenant with the family of faith, as sinful as we are, and pour out His grace.
For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. (John 1:16 ESV)