Nest Among The Stars

Nest Among The Stars

If Obadiah, the least among the Minor Prophets, has not had his due at the hands of students, the reasons are not far to seek. His subject is the disturbing one of judgment, and the judged are that tragic man and his descendants, who sought in vain for a place of repentance although sought carefully with tears.

The humanist cannot help feeling that Esau was rather badly treated and that that worm Jacob escaped too lightly. So in Obadiah’s company we come face to face with the mystery of divine sovereignty, and those staggering words, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” When all allowance has been made for the limitations of human language as a conveyance for divine ideas, the mystery remains to be a stone of stumbling, or an object of ingenious special pleading, or a foundation for grim theological theory.

One of the advantages of being a humble Bible student unattached to any school is that, realizing the vastness of the subject and the smallness of the mind, it is permissible to dispense with theories on certain matters while preserving the firmest grasp on essential truth. How flat the round earth seems to dwellers of the Indian plains! We maintain our belief in the sovereignty of the eternal God to whom our tenses do not apply. No less do we maintain our belief in the awful responsibility of a man to decide the way his soul shall go.

The prophecy opens, “The vision of Obadiah…” He is a simple witness telling what he has seen. His brevity places his work in that class which comprises five miniature Scriptures: Philemon, 1 and 2 John, and Jude. War is declared against Edom; Esau’s hour has come and although he hurls his challenge from the impregnable fortress which still stands to astonish the world, the armies of heaven have unfurled their banners and unsheathed their swords and there is to be no escape. The long day of grace has ended, the endless night of judgment has come. The nest among the stars is to be rifled, the cleft rock scaled, the vine left without a gleaning grape.

It was the due reward of his deeds; when Israel was plundered, Edom approved. When foreigners entered into the city of the great king, the tongue of Esau added to the Babel sounds, speaking great swelling words. He shared the spoil of Jacob and, manning the crossways to capture the fugitives and deliver them to their oppressors, disregarding the brotherly covenant.

But it was a short-lived triumph. With the measure they had meted it was measured to them again, pressed down and running over. For Israel, so fiercely, so righteously judged, there was mercy in store; although scattered like the chaff of the summer threshing floor, there was to be a gathering. Mount Seir, which is Petra, the poet’s “rose-red city, half as old as time,” the streets of the house of Jacob should possess all their possessions again, and the kingdom of Israel should be the kingdom of God.

While we wait for this fulfillment, we shall be wise if we learn again the old, old lesson of “the nest among the stars.” It is a warning against the lust for leadership, the curse of hell and earth, of kingdoms and churches and homes. A variant is Adonijah’s “I will be king!” It began with Satan and will only end with his overthrow.

“The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, ‘Who shall bring me down to the ground?’” (v.3). When shall we learn that before honour is humility? That we must take the lowest room if we would enjoy the highest place? Our faith has as its example He who had His nest among the stars by every right. Yet He was found in fashion as a man, saying, “The foxes have holes, and the bids of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head” –nowhere except a cross at last.
It was the proud eagle nature of Edom that was his downfall. Secure in his eyrie; strong to look the sun in the face; despising all lesser breeds; aiming at sovereignty for base ends he overstepped the boundary of mercy and it was true-

From the same cradle’s side,
From the same mother’s knee
One to long darkness and the frozen tide,
One to the peaceful sea.
– (Oliver Wendell Holmes)

For whom is the nest among the stars? By the grace of God it is for the worm of Jacob’s line. They have seen the vision splendid, the way cast up on earth reaching to heaven, with the living God speaking His exceeding great and precious promises. In them all those promises are fulfilled, for the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is their Father; His Son their Saviour; His Spirit their Indweller; His angels their servants; His book their wisdom; His heaven their home.

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