The Challenging Way of Obadiah

5

1 Kings 18:2–6 (NIV)

Now the famine was severe in Samaria, and Ahab had summoned Obadiah, his palace administrator. (Obadiah was a devout believer in the Lord. While Jezebel was killing off the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.) Ahab had said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs and valleys. Maybe we can find some grass to keep the horses and mules alive so we will not have to kill any of our animals.” So they divided the land they were to cover, Ahab going in one direction and Obadiah in another.

CONSIDER THIS

ME: THIS IS THE WAY—
YOU: FROM GLORY TO GLORY!

Can we take a minute with Obadiah today? Obadiah was a very righteous man. He worked for a very bad, very wicked king. How do we square these two supremely incongruous facts? How can such a righteous man support such an unrighteous ruler? How can he even participate in such a wicked regime? Is his participation not a full-throated endorsement? 

Welcome, my friends, to the real world. This happens every single day in all fifty states and in every country the world over. Very righteous men and women are working for very wicked people. They are serving in large and small companies, multi-national corporations, high-brow and low-bar law firms, governmental agencies, financial institutions, congressional offices, the White House, parliaments, the courts of kings and queens, the administrations of prime ministers, the staff of judges, church bureaucracies and agencies, yes, Christian institutions, schools, colleges, and we could go on.

We are living in a very fallen world which is being run and administrated by very broken people, many of whom are directly or indirectly responsible for propagating corrupted structures and systems, and being otherwise active or complicit in one degree or another with the allowance and doing of wicked and evil things. And these same entities are filled with Obadiah’s. Obadiah is a light in the darkness; a witness of righteousness in a world of wickedness. He was the palace administrator, a seemingly high level officer, in King Ahab’s court. But did you catch this?

(Obadiah was a devout believer in the Lord. While Jezebel was killing off the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.)

This is straight out of Schindler’s List isn’t it?! It is said that Obadiah was once a rich man but expended his wealth to care for these prophets of God. It is a remarkable story. He is an active agent of goodness and redemption in an otherwise wicked and corrupted system. Some would say he should resign in protest. It seems God had placed him in just such a place for just such a time. Obadiah would go on to become a prophet—one of the books of the Bible is dedicated to his prophecy. 

Many of you reading have been or now find yourself in just such a place at just such a time as this. You are often deeply conflicted. Your finger regularly hovers over the “I resign” button. At minimum you have your bright red, Rubicon line. Remember this—righteousness is not how things look on the outside. Righteousness is reality on the inside. Much is at stake in these situations and much good can be done. 

Here’s the thing though. Rationalizations abound. It is so easy to become slowly self-deceived in these kinds of situations. They can be very tricky. And just because you claim to be a Christian does not mean you are acting as an agent of Jesus in the exercise of your responsibilities. You must be an active doer of goodness and righteousness in such scenarios. You must be a luminous witness of Light. It is not about touting your beliefs while phoning in your witness. It is about the quiet, risky, costly—often hidden and known to no-one—deeds of sacrificial love that win the day and gain the applause of Heaven. 

Bottom line: The only way we know this—Obadiah was a devout believer in the Lord . . .

Was because of this—While Jezebel was killing off the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.) 

This kind of situation is growing in our midst. The future will be increasingly filled with it. More education will not do the trick. We will need real bona fide training in righteousness. As Dorothy famously said to her dog after her radical relocation, “Toto! I’ve a feeling we aren’t in Kansas anymore!” 

 This is the way—from glory to glory. 

THE PRAYER

Abba Father, thank you for Obadiah. May his tribe increase in our time. Holy Spirit, grant us wisdom and grant us courage for the facing of this hour. Indeed, for the facing of this hour. Praying in Jesus’ name, amen. 

THE QUESTION

Have you ever found yourself in Obadiah’s shoes? Are you there now? How are you engaging it? enduring it? Send us some stories. 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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5 COMMENTS

  1. It’s a difficult question – to stay, or to go in the face of evil. Though I wonder if Obadiah could have left Ahab’s service that easily even if he wanted. He may have been killed by Ahab had he quit – crossing a Rubicon line indeed. But whichever, Obadiah stayed and was in reality, though Ahab didn’t know it, participating in God’s regime not Ahab’s. He worked from within, doing what was right as a devout man of God.
    Where or if we ever draw the line is another question. For example: Should we stay and support Woke church leaders who support unbiblical practices, in the hope that we can work from within and effect change? I think strength of character and how established we are in faith should play a part in our decision. Otherwise we could become unequally yoked and even corrupted. Then again, had Obadiah quit, those 100 prophet’s may not have survived. I
    As I say, it’s a difficult question.

  2. How we might be in an Obadiah situation may not be the type of story one would be wise to publicize. This activity would be seen as subversive. Some activities might be left to God and oneself to know about. The Lord has ways of allowing other “Obadiah types” to make connections and work together.

  3. We are absolutely not in Kansas anymore spiritually or politically. For some of us, even the church landscape feels like a vast wilderness of uncertainty.

    I am currently working “undercover” running an antique mall. It gives me access to a wide variety of people and is an excellent listening post. It does nothing to allay my concerns that the church landscape has become a vast wilderness of options.

  4. JD, I have had the honor to lead a workplace ministry called Workmatters for 18 years. You’re writing today is spot on! I especially appreciated these words: “You must be an active doer of goodness and righteousness in such scenarios. You must be a luminous witness of Light. It is not about touting your beliefs while phoning in your witness. It is about the quiet, risky, costly—often hidden and known to no-one—deeds of sacrificial love that win the day and gain the applause of Heaven. ”

    What you have written mirrors want we teach and how we equip business leaders with the 7 Pillars of Faith and Work (Love, Integrity, Excellence, Influence, Serving, Calling, and Balance). God is a worker and he created us to work. To subdue the world and extend His creative work to a flourishing world (see Genesis 1 & 2). The workplace is quite literally the largest, most frequently populated mission field we will ever be in. And it all starts with “being a luminous witness of Light. It is about the quiet, risky, costly—often hidden and known to no-one—deeds of sacrificial love that win the day and gain the applause of Heaven.”

    Well said JD. I will post your writing on LinkedIn today for others in the workplace to read. If anyone needs more depth on living your faith at work you are welcome to look through http://www.workmatters.org.

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