Who has my back?

Have you ever counted on a friend, only to be let down? When that happens, we feel vulnerable. We begin to question whether anyone is truly on our side. Who has my back?

God's people asked that question, and the Lord answered with the words of the shortest Old Testament book—the prophet who promised that God has your back—Obadiah.

Bad blood between brothers
Obadiah finishes the story of the twin sons of Isaac, Jacob and Esau, who became the fathers of two nations. From Jacob came the people of Israel, and from Esau came the nation of Edom. Close relations, however, did not create close allies. 

1. Read Genesis 25:29-34. How did negative aspects of their personalities overflow into their family and spiritual relationships?

Answer - Jacob was a deceiver and a schemer. Esau was not a spiritual man. The one despised the birthright and the other schemed to deceitfully get it.

2. Read Genesis 27. How did their fighting lead to betrayal, hatred, and the breaking of family bonds?

Answer - Lies, betrayal, stolen clothes and stolen blessings, mothers against fathers and brother against brother. It all ended with one brother fleeing for his life, with the family broken beyond repair.

Years later during the exodus, Jacob's descendants were led by God from Egypt to the Promised Land. They were surrounded by enemy nations—with the exception of one: Edom, their brother, the descendants of Esau. Moses and the Israelites petitioned for their help. Read Numbers 20:14-21, and see what happened.

3. List some reasons why Edom should have agreed to Israel's request.

Answer - They were all reasonable requests coming from a related people. They would have been good allies for the Edomites.

4. How do you think this affected long-term relationships between Edom and Israel? Between Edom and God?

Answer - Thought they should have my back, they are blood! But instead, look what they did! Ruined the long term relationship with Israel, and this affected their relationship with the God of Israel, too. Rather than coming into a close relationship with him, their aggression towards God's people distanced Edom from the true God.

Israel's trouble with Edom didn't end at the Exodus. In the days of the kings, when the Philistines and Arabs attacked Jerusalem, Edom did not help Israel. They turned on them. Read 2 Chronicles 21:16-17.

5. Describe the kind of defeat that Judah suffered.

Answer - Catastrophic defeat. The capital is sacked and the royalty slaughtered. It couldn't get much worse than this.