“You will be desolate, O Mount Seir, you and all of Edom. Then they will know that I am the Lord”.
Neglecting the Old Testament based on the misconception that it holds no relevance for our modern lives as Christians is foolish and frustrating. Some of the richest blessings, lessons, convictions, and encouragements I have received through Scripture have come from the pages of the bible’s oldest books. The hostility between Israel and Edom can be found back in Genesis 25-28. These two nations were great enemies throughout all of the bible’s history, and continued for some time.
Reading through Ezekiel 35, I couldn’t help but notice a pattern appearing throughout Ezekiel’s prophecy against Edom; it presents a great example to us today of 5 common traits of a prideful and haughty heart:
“Because you harboured an ancient hostility…” verse 5
Our reaction to sin or enmity should be forgiveness, not hostility. The amount of time it takes for someone to realise their sin holds no relevance – whether it be weeks, months or even years before they seek forgiveness, or even if they never acknowledge it – we are called to not harbour hostility, but to offer forgiveness to those who sin against us. As Jesus said to His disciples regarding prayer, “if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15).
Envy and covetousness
“Because you said, “These two nations and countries will be ours and we will take possession of them… I will treat you in accordance with the anger and jealousy you showed in your hatred of them” – verse 10, 11b
The bible is full of warnings against envy and covetousness, and is clear on the consequences of such things:
- A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones – Proverbs 14:30
- Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?- Proverbs 27:4
- You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions – James 4:2-3
Instead of these, we should seek contentment with what we have (Philippians 4:12) and rejoice at the blessings of others (Romans 12:15).
“I will treat you in accordance with the anger and jealousy you showed… Then you will know that I the Lord have heard all the contemptible things you have said” – verses 11-12
Emotions were given to us by God as a way to express how we feel – they were created good and perfect. However, as the fall of sin has its mark on everything, so it also does with our emotions. While anger can be felt in a righteous way (Ephesians 4:26-27), we must never let this fester in our hearts lest we become bitter and hateful:
“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:15
Boasting in yourself
“You boasted against me and spoke against me without restraint” – verse 13
Boasting is fruit of pride and irreverence. Our lives should not be marked by these, but by the same characteristics that Jesus showed: meekness, peace and humility (Matthew 5:5, Philippians 2:1-8). We should also strive to say with the apostle Paul:
“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” – Galatians 6:14
Rejoicing at the destruction of others
“Because you rejoiced when the inheritance of the house of Israel became desolate, that is how I will treat you.” – verse 15
Of all the people who have been sinned against, God is the only one who reserves the right to unleash justice. But even when Jesus came to this earth, He didn’t come to condemn or destroy – but to save, and we are to imitate Christ! As tempting as it may be to feel glad at the misfortune of those who seek to harm or persecute us, our attitudes, words and deeds should reflect a heart of love and humility, desiring to reflect the sacrificial, servant heart of Christ:
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” – John 3:17
“Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.””- Luke 23:34
Hostility, envy and covetousness, hatefulness, boasting, and rejoicing at others’ misfortune are all sins reflecting a heart that is ruled by pride and bitterness. Though we may be tempted by these things from time to time, we must strive in God’s grace to have a heart that is ruled by the Holy Spirit, not by sin; for Christ died for our freedom to be able to live as He did! I’ll finish with this final admonition from Paul regarding imitation of Christ’s humility (Philippians 2:1-11):
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.