Have you ever noticed that our culture today is becoming more vengeful? I notice it when I am driving, someone cuts someone else off and there is an immediate reaction in some form of road rage. Social media are often used as a tool to execute revenge. Or what about the honor killings that we hear about? Or the person that feels left out during their school years and goes back to the school to carry out a mass shooting. In all of these cases someone is seeking revenge upon someone else. Of course this idea is nothing new. The Bible talks a lot about those who seek revenge. Let’s take a look.
You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:18, (New American Standard Bible 1977 or NASB 1977).
‘Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, In due time their foot will slip; For the day of their calamity is near, And the impending things are hastening upon them.’ Deuteronomy 32:35, (NASB 1977).
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19, (NASB 1977).
God set out from the beginning of the Law He gave to Moses saying that the department of revenge was His and His alone. I believe that is why forgiveness is so important to the Christian. That is why I find the next scriptures very interesting. Jesus is teaching.
Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God, and did not respect man. “And there was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ “And for a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, lest by continually coming she wear me out.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now shall not God bring about justice for His elect, who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? “I tell you that He will bring about justice for them speedily. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:1-8, (NASB 1977).
So there is a woman who is seeking justice from a judge who really could care less about her problems. This judge sounds like some of our modern-day judges who don’t respect God and could care less about the dilemma some cases present. There were such judges back then as well. But this judge got tired of the woman nagging him so he finally gave in and did the right thing just to get her off his back. In this case I guess nagging worked! I have often heard this passage in sermons and Bible lessons referring to continual prayer. We are to pray and ask God for our needs and if we bug God enough the answer will come. I just don’t really think that this is the point Jesus is making. I do believe in praying and bringing our petitions to God until they are answered. But this passage has a deeper meaning I think.
When do people seek justice? Often it is when they have been wronged. For instance someone is murdered and their friends and family ask the police to investigate and arrest the person who did the killing. The perpetrator goes before a judge and jury and is prosecuted for the crime and either found innocent or guilty. Justice was carried out if the person is found guilty. But what about those Christians who have been murdered and no one even knows they are gone from this earth or the murderer is not arrested? What about those who are murdered because they are Christians and their death is encouraged by the local justice system? How do they receive justice? Let’s look in the book of Revelation.
And when He broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, wilt Thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, should be completed also. Revelation 6:9-11, (NASB 1977).
This is a chilling passage of scripture because it reminds us that there are people who have been killed simply because they are followers of Jesus. We use words that appease and sound a little better when we say that these are the martyrs of their faith. Truth is they were beheaded, burned alive, hung on a cross, stabbed repeatedly, stoned…they were killed. But that was not the end of their story because God sees everything and knows when one of His children is harmed.
We as Christians do not have the right to seek revenge on those who purposely harm us. We are taught to forgive them, forgive our enemies, feed our enemies, bless our enemies, (Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:28, Romans 12:14, 1 Peter 3:9). We do this because we understand that God has forgiven much from our own sins. But we do have the right as a Christian to ask God for justice. God’s vengeance is always better than what I could think of doing to someone who has hurt me. When I was hurt, when I was slighted, when I was left stranded in life, God worked a miracle in my heart because I am still here living and breathing and enjoying my life. I don’t want to be the judge of another and I certainly don’t want to carry out some grudge filled revenge but I did want justice and God brought it to me swiftly. I am forever thankful to God for that gift of justice and mercy extended to me.
There is a day coming, for some that day has already arrived, when people in our family, people who are our neighbors, people who are sworn to protect the rights of the people living in our communities will want us dead because we do not believe the same way they believe life should be lived. It was long ago predicted.
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; therefore be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves. “But beware of men; for they will deliver you up to the courts, and scourge you in their synagogues; and you shall even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. “But when they deliver you up, do not become anxious about how or what you will speak; for it shall be given you in that hour what you are to speak. “For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. “And brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death. “And you will be hated by all on account of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. “But whenever they persecute you in this city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you shall not finish going through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes. “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. “It is enough for the disciple that he become as his teacher, and the slave as his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household! “Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. “What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. “And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. “Therefore do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows. “Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. “But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. “For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD. “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. “He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it. “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. “He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. “And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you he shall not lose his reward.” Matthew 10:16-42, (NASB 1977).
The times are changing in many parts of the world and places where Christians could live peacefully among non-Christians are no more. We need to be mindful that wherever we reside we also live among the world’s people who do not know Christ nor do they want to know Him. We can not seek our own revenge but we can petition in our prayers asking God to bring justice to our situation. Never fear what the world can do to us, to our bodies, to our property, to our lives because there is a day coming when our almighty God will bring the sword of vengeance against the world and judge them guilty. We will be in His rest waiting a little while longer for the judgement. Until that time, hang in there Christians and continue to bless those who hate you, and be good to those who want you gone from this world. Show the love of Christ to all people’s and let them know how peaceful your life really is. They don’t understand what peace and love really are and they can never take that peace and love away from you. Hang tough and wait upon the Lord in His rest. Stay faithful.