2003-09-04 - Revenge
Jeremiah 20:1 "For I have heard the whispering of many, 'Terror on every side! Denounce him; yes, let us denounce him!' All my trusted friends, watching for my fall, say; 'Perhaps he will be deceived, so that we may prevail against him and take our revenge on him."
I would like to meet someone who has never wanted to take revenge on another person. We all have, and yet the concept in Scripture is used in different manners. It is not always used in Scripture, as we commonly use it today, and exemplified in the verse above. It can come from anger, but it can also be used as a just result of sin (2 Corinthians 10:6), and it can also be used in the manner of a just hatred of sin (2 Corinthians 7:11). Revenge for us is really a "get back" at another. This is not the proper response of a Christian. Revenge, or vengeance, really, only, properly belongs to God. "For we know Him who said, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.' And again, 'The Lord will judge His people.'" (Hebrews 10:30) See also, Psalm 94:1 and Deuteronomy 32:35.
When we seek revenge it always involves passion. However, when the Lord is vengeful it involves no passion. It is always in the pursuit of justice. Even when Paul was struck by the viper in Acts 28:5 those who were with him thought that it was God's justice upon him because they thought he was a murder. However, God's justice proved true and Paul survived. Even the heathens knew that God was a God of revenge.
Acts 58:10, 11 are tough verses for those of us who love peace and hate suffering, but it still is God's Holy Word and we must seek to reconcile our understandings with it. "The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; he will wash his feet in the blood of the wicked. And men will say, 'Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth!'" Revenge does not belong to us. It is in God's hand. I have a hard time rejoicing when I see others suffering. But even when I struggle with things, or don't like them, I must bow my own desires, my own feelings, my own wishes, to the will and sovereignty of my Lord. It is not an easy thing to do, but these verses are clear. I am not strong enough in my faith to rejoice when I see it. I still hurt.
We are not to take our own revenge and I could multiply passages on this topic and make this devo way too long (Psalm 99, Leviticus 19, Romans 12, Exodus 21, Romans 13, Numbers 35, Jeremiah 50). All these chapters have verses that deal with this subject. It is worth taking the time to study these passages, but we can't hit on them all here. The key is to keep our temper in check and remember that revenge is not ours for the taking.
Years ago in South Africa a young girl was taken prisoner by a man who had a grudge against her father. He cut off both her hands and sent her home. She recovered and one day someone came to her door asking for food and help. She realized that it was the same man who had hurt her. She gave him food and when he was done eating she uncovered her limbs. She simply said to him, "I have had my revenge." These were the exact words he had said to her when he cut off her hands. Between the time her hands were cut off and she met her attacker at the door she had become a Christian. May God give us such a heart.
Soli Deo Gloria,