Edom was located just south of Moab with the city of Teman being in the north and Dedan in the south. Seir was the main mountain of their territory and so they are the people of Seir. The descendants of Esau, they were the life-long enemies of Israel because they believed the favor shown to Israel by the Lord should, by inheritance, have been theirs. Their hatred for Israel, prompted by their jealousy of Israel, ate them alive. They were a proud (Jeremiah 49:16-17), cruel (Amos 1:11-12) and vengeful people (Ezekiel 25:12-14), noted by the prophets who mention them – including Obadiah who devotes his entire book to their condemnation.
The Edomites failed to appreciate and accept the sovereignty of God. God gave them their own nation – as well as their own territory. It was not, however, enough. They wanted what God gave Israel and would never be happy as long as they could not possess it.
Reading this text today I was reminded of those I have known in similar situations: they envied God’s blessings to others and can never be happy with either His gifts or ministry assignments. Unless they can do and have what others do and have, they will never be happy and ultimately, they will take out their jealousies on God and His people, and as long as they live this way, God will never be pleased with them.
Note an application of this point to a modern controversy: the role of women in the church. I’ve known men and women who have abandoned the community of faith because women are not allowed every role men are allowed. They overlook that men are forbidden some roles women are given. They also overlook three specific passages: 1 Corinthians 11; 1 Corinthians 14; and 1 Timothy 2. Though theologians posture over these texts, the very plain fact is that they deny women some of the roles men are given. There is no getting around them. These texts say something. Advocates of egalitarianism, one way or another, are forced to ignore these passages. They have all kinds of reasons for believing they don’t say what they have always been understood to say, but they are hard pressed to tell us precisely what they do say. The plain fact is, God never made men and women the same and he did not give them all the same roles. Those who find it difficult to be happy with God’s sovereignty may find themselves in the same boat with the Edomites in more ways than one.