Typically, in a discussion about the Prophet Ovadiah (Obadiah), you wouldn’t expect the Yiddish term “naches” to enter into the conversation!
I remember my mom would use this term from time to time when I did something that brought her pride and joy. Well…in Ovadiah, there’s really not a whole lot of pride and joy going on (though the book does end on a positive note with a word about Israel’s restoration). Nonetheless, in a recent teaching I did at my synagogue in Atlanta, I was able to make a connection between Ovadiah and some “naches” that I felt over the success of one of my special needs students.
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. For as you have drunk on my holy mountain, so all the nations shall drink continually; they shall drink and swallow, and shall be as though they had never been. (Ovadiah 15-16)
Ovadiah is about God’s judgment upon the Edomites for the way they treated their cousins (Israel) as they were being conquered by the Babylonians. Israel and Edom were mishpocah (family) - with Israel being the descendants of Jacob and Edom being the descendants of Esau. Rather than coming to Israel’s aid, Edom gloated and heckled over the destruction of Jerusalem and her deportation to Babylon. Taking such a posture toward Israel is a sure way to incur God’s wrath. And the above verses communicate that as a result of Edom’s arrogance towards Israel, she would pay the price.
Edom had sown arrogance and pride. God promised that it would come back to bite them.
So what we have here is the age old principle that we reap what we sow. And the truth about reaping and sowing is that it works both ways. If we sow bad stuff, we’ll reap bad stuff. If we sow good stuff, we’ll reap good stuff.
Paul actually says something similar in Galatians:
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:7-10)
In addition to my role as Director of Outreach at FFOZ, and my role as a leader at my synagogue, I also teach special needs students in the public school system here in Atlanta (yup, I’m a busy guy!). This is my twelvth year teaching special needs. I love my students. Sometimes, though, when I introduce concepts (sowing), the fruit can grow REALLY slowly. I can definitely grow weary and ask myself “Am I doing any good here?”
I think of one of my autism students named Chuck. For three years, I tried to get Chuck to dribble a basketball. I knew he had it in him and that I wasn’t asking him to do something beyond his capability. Chuck just couldn’t make the connection…for three years.
I decided to stick with it and kept visiting, dribbling with Chuck each week. I knew that learning to dribble would allow him to enjoy basketball and thus keep him more active and healthy. So we pressed on. Finally, in my fourth year working with Chuck, he’s dribbling like a champ. A day came when it clicked for him. After four years of sowing, I was seeing the harvest. When I see Chuck dribble now, I have real “naches” (pride and joy).
We sowed and sowed…and there was no reaping for a long time. But now, the due season has arrived and we are reaping. Chuck is now dribbling, shooting, and is on his way to being able to participate in a special needs basketball league. This makes me smile.
The principle that I experienced with Chuck is true on a spiritual level as well. When we sow the things of the Spirit, eventually we will see good fruit come forth. If we sow mercy into those around us, we will build strong relationships. If we sow love into our marriages, we will reap oneness and shalom bayit (peace in the home). If we sow integrity and godly principles to our co-workers and neighbors, they will see the light of Yeshua in us. A good harvest may not always look exactly the way we expect it to turn out, but God’s trustworthy promise is that if we do good, in due season we will reap if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9).
Be encouraged. If you are pouring good into a person, group, or situation, but have yet to see fruit from it, keep it up. If you are weary, you have company. But don’t stay there. God will reward and bless your good work one way or the other. In due season we will reap if we do not give up!