Do Not Rejoice Over Another’s Misfortune
“But you should not have gazed on the day of your brother in the day of his captivity;
Nor should you have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction;
Nor should you have spoken proudly in the day of distress.”
We have all been wronged at one time or another. We’ve been betrayed and hurt. We’ve had lies told about us or have been falsely accused. We may have been passed over for a job we were in line to get because someone else took advantage of a situation and they received the job instead. It doesn’t matter what it was, it was wrong and it hurt and angered us. If this has happened to you, how did you feel? Did you look for ways to get back at the person, or maybe the person fell on hard times and inside you thought “Yes! Finally! What comes around goes around!” I’m sure we’ve all had those thoughts at one point in time but in reality, they really weren’t godly thoughts and were not the right thoughts to have and we will learn why.
The book of Obadiah is about unforgiveness and pride over another’s calamity. The Edomites hated the Israelites and did whatever they could to make their lives miserable. They lived 700 feet up in the mountains where their homes and buildings were chiseled out of the rocks. They would come down the mountain, make life miserable for the Israelites, then go back up into their homes and would say in their hearts “Who will bring me down to the ground?“ Why did they dislike Israel so much? It goes back centuries to Jacob and Esau who were brothers. The Israelites are the descendents of Jacob and the Edomites are the descendents of Esau. Though they were twins, Esau was the older brother but Jacob deceived him out of his birthright with food. Esau was hungry and his flesh won out. In Genesis 25:29-34 we see what happened:
Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. And Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.” Therefore his name was called Edom. But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.” And Esau said, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?” Then Jacob said, “Swear to me as of this day.” So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.
So the hatred is really a grudge the Edomites held against the Israelites. So when Babylon took Jerusalem into captivity, Edom rejoiced. Instead of helping their brothers, they took delight in their failure, all because of a grudge. Edom felt secure in their homes high up in the rocks. They felt untouchable whenever they tormented the Israelites. Their pride of heart prohibited them from helping their brothers and instead they rejoiced in their calamity. In verses 10-14 we can see what they did. They were violent against the Israelites. In the day of their captivity, they stood on the other side and did nothing. They rejoiced over Judah’s destruction and spoke proudly in the day of their distress. They entered in the gate of God’s people and gazed on their affliction. They looted their wealth and stood at the crossroads, cut off their fugitives and handed them over in the day of their distress. In other words, they were of no help and watched as their own brothers went into captivity, all because of a grudge.
Now, as we read this, one would think “They are getting what they deserve! Jacob had deceived Esau out of his birthright and received God’s blessings.” This may be true, but God was not pleased with the heart of the Edomites because they had a proud heart and were violent people. In verses 2-4 God states the following:
“Behold, I will make you small among the nations; you shall be utterly despised. 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.”
How many times have we stood by and watch someone receive the same wrong we received by them and due to our anger, we never helped them. Maybe by helping them, it would help them to change. Though we may have enemies, we should never gloat over their destruction and rejoice over their calamity. We should never join in when others seek out their destruction because God states in Obadiah 1:15:
“For the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations. As you have done, it shall be done to you; your deeds shall return on your own head.”
Why would God care so much about our enemies especially when they hurt us and do wrong to us? Because vengeance is not ours but God’s as we see in Romans 12:19-21:
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Also because He still loves them and wants to see them change. In our world today, this goes against everything we were ever told. It’s hard for people to accept. But when we go before the Lord and bring Him our situation, He will take care of it in His time. We are to forgive and move on. When we are angry and hurt and hold on to that, all we can see are flaws in people. However, when we forgive them and let go, we see things much differently. How many times have families, friendships and even churches been torn apart because one person couldn’t forgive the other and soon sides were taken. It happens all the time and some of these grudges can last for years. Then comes the prideful heart when something happens to those we are angry at. We are glad when they have misfortune figuring they got what was coming to them. Sometimes we may even think it was God’s doing. Whether it was or wasn’t, we should never rejoice over it because it’s not what God wants us to do. As the verse states above, if we have a prideful heart and gloat over one’s misfortune, what we have done will be done to us. Those are sobering words.
God will only exalt us if we become humble. Humbleness is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of a right heart with God.
Are you bitter over something wrong that was done to you and are finding it hard to let go? Have you rejoiced over another’s misfortune after they have wronged you? This is the time to get with God and repent and ask God to fix what needs fixing. When we turn the matter over to the Lord, He will take care of it. Our job is to forgive and move on.