“The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in your lofty dwelling, who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?’ Though you soar aloft like the eagle, though your nest is set among the stars, from there I will bring you down, declares the Lord” (Obadiah 3,4).
THE PROBLEM OF PRIDE ADDRESSED IN THE LITTLE BOOK OF OBADIAH IS A UNIVERSAL PROBLEM. Specifically, it pertained to Edom, a nation that had grown proud because of the apparent invincibility of its power and geographical security. Through the prophet Obadiah, God promised He would bring devastating judgment on the sins of Edom, and they would learn that they were not, in fact, as secure as they supposed. But the problem that plagued Edom is a universal human problem. There is no nation — and no individual — who does not need to listen to Obadiah.
The term hubris is familiar to us from ancient Greek and Roman history. It referred to the pride that deludes a person into thinking he can do anything he pleases, a pride that results in tragic consequences. But hubris is not only the problem of tragic heroes in ancient history; it is the problem of every human being. If possible, it is more of a temptation today than it was back then.
If we believe our hands can achieve anything our minds can envision, we are telling ourselves a horrible lie. As God said to Edom, “The pride of your heart has deceived you.” And as He said to the prosperous landowner in the story of Luke 12:16–20: “You fool! Tonight you will die. Then who will get what you have stored up?” (CEV). The fact is, we are not as invincible as we like to think. We are not autonomous. And we are not the masters of our own destiny. If we think we are, we’re being not only foolish but self-destructive. Sooner or later, God will humble us and remind us of the limitations we have refused to acknowledge.
Today, we live in an age of tremendous scientific progress. But the paradox of progress is that the more we achieve by our own know-how, the more vulnerable we are. Our pride becomes our weakness. And the worst part of it is that it makes us think we’re too powerful to need God or the gospel of His salvation through Christ. We destroy ourselves by what we thought was our strength.
“We are slaves to our gadgets, puppets of our power, and prisoners of our security” (Billy Graham).