What do you need to hear from God? A reflection on Obadiah (@nicolahwriter)



If there were just one thing you needed to hear from God what would it be?

The book we are reflecting on this month, Obadiah, is the shortest in the whole Old Testament but it is no less startling or powerful for lack of words. Reading these two short pages preserved for us over thousands of years I was struck by my own experience of trying to listen for the voice of God.

I recently returned from a retreat and was reminded afresh that sometimes all that is needed is to hear one short and simple thing. Like Obadiah’s prophecy that thing we need to hear might not always be what we want to hear. Over and over again he says ‘You should not have’ to the people. Listening to God and opening ourselves up nearly always involves facing a few ‘Should not haves’ in my experience.

Obadiah’s prophecy ends on a dark note for the Edomites and he rails against them in a way reminiscent of the other prophets and their warnings to Israel before the exile. But as the Israelite’s began to more fully grasp in the years of exile, God’s actions with them are recorded to be a prototype through which we can understand God’s dealings with the whole world, even those who have messed up as spectacularly as the Edomites.

The portion of Isaiah thought to have been written in exile describes it like this,

‘It is too light a thing that you should be my servant…I will give you as a light to the nations that my salvation may real to the ends of the earth.’ (Isaiah 49:6)

Obadiah’s prophecy as a whole ends on a note of hope and of restoration almost as if he is syncing in to the wider message of the Bible, that move from being forsaken to redeemed, damaged to healed, lost to found. It is God’s kingdom not any kingdom of the world that Obadiah looks forward to being established, a kingdom of hope, of love and of justice.

In a few short words Obadiah brings reassurance,

‘Those who have been saved shall go up to Mount Zion to rule Mount Esau and the kingdom shall be the Lord’s’ (Obadiah 21)

For the people in exile the loses they had experienced had been noticed, that their restoration was assured. This is still the message in the face of how ever many ‘Should haves’ we might have racked up by now. We too can hear those quiet words of reassurance, of love and unyielding acceptance no matter that has gone before.

The thing I needed to hear from God? Just three little words, ‘I love you’. Yes, a few words can be very powerful indeed.

About Nicola Hulks