The Bible speaks of God’s vengeance but we know that God’s ways are not our ways. We always have to carefully examine scripture, look at word meanings and compare with the life and teachings of Jesus who is our only perfect example. I found the following to be an excellent article on vengeance. This is a guest article by Floyd Phillips who posts at: http://biblicalconcepts.blogspot.ca. It is somewhat lengthy but well-written and definitely worth reading as he touches on so many aspects of the topic. All emphasis is Floyd’s.
by Floyd Phillips
I recently began discovering some exciting things about God’s vengeance. I could never have imagined that I would get excited about vengeance, but in the past few days I have done just that, but for reasons quite different than most might imagine. Let me try to share what I am discovering if possible.
“Your princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves. Everyone loves bribes, and follows after rewards. They don’t judge the fatherless, neither does the cause of the widow come to them. Therefore the Lord, Yahweh of Armies, the Mighty One of Israel, says: “Ah, I will get relief from my adversaries, and avenge myself of my enemies; and I will turn my hand on you, thoroughly purge away your dross, and will take away all your tin. I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you shall be called ‘The city of righteousness, a faithful town.’ Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and her converts with righteousness. But the destruction of transgressors and sinners shall be together, and those who forsake Yahweh shall be consumed. For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which you have desired, and you shall be confounded for the gardens that you have chosen. For you shall be as an oak whose leaf fades, and as a garden that has no water. The strong will be like tinder, and his work like a spark. They will both burn together, and no one will quench them.” (Isaiah 1:23-31)
The true meaning and nature of God’s kind of vengeance begins to be seen in this passage here at the beginning of the book of Isaiah. God’s vengeance is always restorative just as is His justice, which is not punitive in nature but rather designed to return everyone and everything back to God’s original intent and purpose for them.
“He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his own arm brought salvation to him; and his righteousness, it upheld him. He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; and he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a mantle. According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, wrath to his adversaries, recompense to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompense. So shall they fear the name of Yahweh from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun; for he will come as a rushing stream, which the breath of Yahweh drives. A Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from disobedience in Jacob, says Yahweh. As for me, this is my covenant with them, says Yahweh: my Spirit who is on you, and my words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, nor out of the mouth of your seed, nor out of the mouth of your seed’s seed, says Yahweh, from henceforth and forever.” (Isaiah 59:16-21)
By allowing His enemies to experience the effects of their own choices, the truth about God’s self-enforcing principles starts to become evident, and as a result respect and honor for the reputation of Yahweh can be increased. Respect is awakened by people who refuse to retaliate but allow others the freedom to follow through with their own choices even when it results in disaster. God tries to warn us, turn us away from our tragic trajectory and do everything possible to restrain the inevitable consequences until He must honor our choice when we totally reject His protection and authority.
To those who turn from disobedience – resistance to the ways and Spirit of God – His covenant promise is that He will not withdraw His Spirit from us. As we embrace His methods and allow Him to transform us to reflect His glory, beauty, goodness and love, God gets His vengeance on His enemies by transforming them into His friends, defeating the schemes of Satan to steal, kill and destroy them.
“The Spirit of the Lord Yahweh is on me; because Yahweh has anointed me to preach good news to the humble; he has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of Yahweh’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to appoint to those who mourn in Zion, to give to them a garland for [instead of] ashes, the oil of joy for [instead of] mourning, the garment of praise for [instead of] the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of Yahweh, that he may be glorified. They shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and foreigners shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. But you shall be named the priests of Yahweh; men shall call you the ministers of our God: you shall eat the wealth of the nations, and in their glory shall you boast yourselves. Instead of your shame you shall have double; and instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess double; everlasting joy shall be to them. For I, Yahweh, love justice, I hate robbery with iniquity; and I will give them their recompense in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. Their seed shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which Yahweh has blessed. I will greatly rejoice in Yahweh, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its bud, and as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord Yahweh will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.” (Isaiah 61:1-11)
I am coming to see clearly now something totally amazing – that the kind of vengeance God is eager to inflict against sin and sinners is nothing short of total annihilation – of sin that is – along with the total recovery of sinners to reflect the beauty, goodness and love of their Creator. This is the vengeance God uses and is what is described so beautifully in this passage and all throughout the Bible.
If this is the case, then why did Jesus intentionally leave out this part when He read it out as His own mission statement during the worship service at His homecoming in Nazareth? After all, He knew this was one of the favorite passages of His people, and they were eager to affirm and cheer Him on with His growing popularity as an up and coming leader in Israel. But leaving out what to them was the key part of this favorite prophecy ended up arousing such a strong offense in their minds that they ended up trying to assassinate Him instead of inaugurating Him.
“The book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. He opened the book, and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim release to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, to deliver those who are crushed, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him.” (Luke 4:17-20)
The problem in Jesus’ day was the very same problem still around today. We project our own selfish agendas and desires onto God and imagine that He is little better than we are in His attitude toward enemies. When we read words like vengeance and justice and judgment, all we think about is retaliation, punishment, settling scores by forcing those who have offended us to suffer and pay for what they have done to us. Yet we often don’t have the power to enforce such desires so we expect God to carry them out on our behalf.
The Jewish nation in the time of Christ were chaffing under the cruel tyranny of a ruthless and vicious occupying army who didn’t hesitate to torture or kill anyone daring to resist their control or to defy their demands. The Jews so hated the Romans that their all-consuming desire was for a powerful Messiah to come to rescue them and violently overthrow the tyranny of the Roman empire and replace it with an empire dominated by the Jews. Anyone seeking to accomplish this goal would arouse the sympathy and often the support of many among the Jews, so in those days there was no shortage of wanna-be Messiahs seeking deliverance through violence.
When Jesus came along demonstrating access to supernatural powers far beyond anything other insurrectionists had, the hopes of those longing to seek vengeance on their enemies through violent overthrow of the hated Romans ignited new hope in people’s hearts. Their imaginations ran wild with scenarios of how Jesus could use His access to power to finally accomplish the promised deliverance of Israel and set His people free from the galling oppression from their enemies. They had long quoted with great enthusiasm this very prophecy from Isaiah, trusting that God would not fail to fulfill His word. They believed that this prophecy, along with others, was a promise of deliverance that God would accomplish in their behalf, and especially the part about God’s vengeance, the most important part of the prophecy, the very part upon which all their dreams, hopes and plans were based.
What is any different about the Jews’ mistaken faith based firmly on the prophecies of God back then from what people are expecting God to fulfill today in mistaken interpretations of similar passages of Scripture? Is it not wildly popular today to promote scenarios of glorious bloodshed and victory over enemies of the Jews as preachers insist that God will soon establish the superiority of Israel and restore their authority over all the earth with the support of loyal Christians? They insist that prophecies of God are irrevocable as they pour millions of dollars and offer unlimited political support to cover up unspeakable atrocities being committed by Israel today against their enemies, all based on the premise that God has determined the nation of Israel as the next empire to control the world.
Clearly there is rampant deception in our day as there was among the Jewish people in the time of Christ. Sadly, because we refuse to embrace the real truth about God’s attitude and methods, we have a similar passion for violent vengeance and punitive justice that was popular back then. And the outcome is that the world religion using the label of Christ today promotes the same agenda of violence, power and force that was the cause of the ruin of Israel not long after crucifying the Son of God. And the same outcome will happen again, this time on a global scale instead of just locally as it did back then.
Notice how the Spirit of God operates in this following passage. All throughout Scripture we must allow this same Spirit to open our own eyes to the ways of God instead of reading through the veil of our selfish agenda like the Jews did when Jesus was here, so we may discover that God’s ways are indeed not our ways but are infinitely higher than our ways or our methods.
“The Spirit of Yahweh will rest on him: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Yahweh. His delight will be in the fear of Yahweh. He will not judge by the sight of his eyes, neither decide by the hearing of his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the poor, and decide with equity for the humble of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; and with the breath of his lips he will kill the wicked. Righteousness will be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his waist.” (Isaiah 11:2-5)
Only as we are willing to embrace the startling truth that Jesus is the exclusive revelation of God and His ways, and that God is no more violent or threatening or retaliating than was Jesus when He lived here on earth – only then can we being to see with new eyes and perceive with our hearts, that the way God gets vengeance and destroys His enemies is by what comes out of His mouth. And when God speaks, what comes out of His mouth is what is in His heart, which is love and only love.
“This is the message which we have heard from him and announce to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)
“We know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and he who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. In this love has been made perfect among us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as he is, even so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has punishment. He who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:16-18)
Here is another prophecy from Isaiah unpacking the true meaning of God’s kind of vengeance. Again, the lenses of preconceptions one uses affects our thinking about God’s methods and attitudes and will strongly influence how we perceive what this passage is saying.
“Who is this who comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this who is glorious in his clothing, marching in the greatness of his strength? I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Why are you red in your clothing, and your garments like him who treads in the wine vat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the peoples there was no man with me: yes, I trod them in my anger, and trampled them in my wrath; and their lifeblood is sprinkled on my garments, and I have stained all my clothing. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore my own arm brought salvation to me; and my wrath, it upheld me. I trod down the peoples in my anger, and made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth. I will make mention of the loving kindnesses of Yahweh, and the praises of Yahweh, according to all that Yahweh has bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he has bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his loving kindnesses. For he said, Surely, they are my people, children who will not deal falsely: so he was their Savior. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bore them, and carried them all the days of old.” (Isaiah 63:1-9)
This is clearly a prophecy of Jesus the Messiah. Yet does this imply that Jesus was so violent that His enemy’s blood was splattered all over His garments from slashing them to pieces in murderous vengeance? Many claim this is so and will point to references in the book of Revelation to support this. They insist that when Jesus lived here on earth the first time, He did not really exhibit the complete character of God because He did not demonstrate fully God’s wrath and vengeance. So they claim that when Jesus returns again as He promised, next time He is going to be different than how He acted the first time, and that is when all the bloodshed is going to happen. This time around His enemies are really going to catch hell with blood splattered everywhere as He gets even for all the insults and injuries they have inflicted on Him and His loyal followers.
Yet nothing could be further from the truth. God never changes – ever. And the only accurate revelation of God is in His Son Jesus Christ. Because sin distorts our perceptions so terribly, we imagine God needing to be placated and appeased, that something has to be done to convince Him to change His mind about His presumed desires for revenge or He will retaliate violently. The truth is, our own cravings for revenge must be addressed, not any presumed animosity on the part of God. It is our confusion about how God feels about sin and sinners and our own twisted ideas about justice, fairness and judgment that keeps us in the dark as to what the real problem with sin is all about.
“Vengeance is mine, and recompense, at the time when their foot slides; for the day of their calamity is at hand. The things that are to come on them shall make haste.” (Deuteronomy 32:35)
“Rejoice, you nations, with his people, for he will avenge the blood of his servants. He will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will make expiation for his land, for his people.” (Deuteronomy 32:43)
This entire chapter in Deuteronomy must be understood in the light of how God operates in relation to those who reject and turn away from Him. And the key is found just before all of the descriptions about vengeance found in this chapter.
“He said, I will hide my face from them. I will see what their end shall be; for they are a very perverse generation, children in whom is no faithfulness.” (Deuteronomy 32:20)
This is the same principle we find in the truth about God’s wrath. According to Scripture, wrath is defined as releasing people to the natural consequences of their choices. In other words, God is compelled to respect our determined choice to disconnect from Him. Yet doing so also involves losing His protection from attacks by our enemies who are eager to inflict harm, suffering, death and destruction. Yet God still gets blamed for everything he allows to happen to us.
When God hides His face, the light of His countenance and His favor are hidden from us as well and everything that follows we bring upon ourselves, even though the language often portrays it as coming from God. When we refuse God’s involvement in our life and resist cooperating with His plans for us, the only thing left is for Him is to respect our choice to reject Him leaving us open to disaster sooner or later. Yet we have only ourselves to blame for it all because we chose with our own free will.
Vengeance takes on a larger dimension that just wrath which simply involves letting go of those rejecting God’s protection in their lives. Vengeance includes God’s version of justice – which is always restorative, not punitive. Thus vengeance in a strange way is how, at least in our jargon, God ‘gets even’ with His enemies – by reversing all the curses brought into our lives by sin and selfishness. Through God’s justice/righteousness (often the same word in the original language) He gets vengeance, either by winning over His enemies and transforming them into friends, or reluctantly letting go of those persistently refusing His offers of love, grace and mercy to the effects of their choices.
This does not mean He changes who He is inside; He never does that. What it means is that when there is no further possibility left inside us to respond to His kindness, in respect of our freedom of choice He withdraws His protection from our life because our choices have demanded it. To do otherwise would be to impose His will on us, which in reality would only destroy our ability to respond to His love by reflecting it. God will never settle for anything less than friendship based on love through appreciation of His beauty of character. It is impossible to foster friendship when there is threat of retaliation should one choose to withdraw. True love requires complete freedom to reject it without any threat of punishment should one choose to do so. This is at the very core of the nature of God’s government.
“Yahweh, you God to whom vengeance belongs, you God to whom vengeance belongs, shine forth. Rise up, you judge of the earth. Pay back the proud what they deserve. Yahweh, how long will the wicked, how long will the wicked triumph? They pour out arrogant words. All the evil-doers boast. They break your people in pieces, Yahweh, and afflict your heritage. They kill the widow and the alien, and murder the fatherless. They say, “Yah will not see, neither will Jacob’s God consider.” Consider, you senseless among the people; you fools, when will you be wise? He who implanted the ear, won’t he hear? He who formed the eye, won’t he see? He who disciplines the nations, won’t he punish? He who teaches man knows. Yahweh knows the thoughts of man, that they are futile. Blessed is the man whom you discipline, Yah, and teach out of your law; that you may give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit is dug for the wicked.” (Psalms 94:1-13)
“Yahweh is a jealous God and avenges. Yahweh avenges and is full of wrath. Yahweh takes vengeance on his adversaries, and he maintains wrath against his enemies. Yahweh is slow to anger, and great in power, and will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. Yahweh has his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. He rebukes the sea, and makes it dry, and dries up all the rivers. Bashan languishes, and Carmel; and the flower of Lebanon languishes. The mountains quake before him, and the hills melt away. The earth trembles at his presence, yes, the world, and all who dwell in it. Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the fierceness of his anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken apart by him. Yahweh is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knows those who take refuge in him. But with an overflowing flood, he will make a full end of her place, and will pursue his enemies into darkness. What do you plot against Yahweh? He will make a full end. Affliction won’t rise up the second time. For entangled like thorns, and drunken as with their drink, they are consumed utterly like dry stubble. There is one gone forth out of you, who devises evil against Yahweh, who counsels wickedness. Thus says Yahweh: “Though they be in full strength, and likewise many, even so they will be cut down, and he shall pass away. Though I have afflicted you, I will afflict you no more. Now will I break his yoke from off you, and will burst your bonds apart.” Yahweh has commanded concerning you: “No more descendants will bear your name. Out of the house of your gods, will I cut off the engraved image and the molten image. I will make your grave, for you are vile. Behold, on the mountains the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace! Keep your feasts, Judah! Perform your vows, for the wicked one will no more pass through you. He is utterly cut off. (Nahum 1:2-15)
It can be easy to be distracted by language used by prophets and Bible writers that make God appear to be a punishing, vengeful God relying on threats to intimidate people into submission. Yet if we stick to the core truth that the only accurate revelation of God is in Jesus Christ, we can begin to see how much of Scripture is reflective of perceptions of human beings about God more than the truth as it is in Jesus. Any discrepancies between the two must always be answered by Jesus’ version of God over everything that appears to contradict what He revealed and demonstrated.
“Repay no one evil for evil. Respect what is honorable in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as it is up to you, be at peace with all men. Don’t seek revenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to God’s wrath. For it is written, “Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord.” Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing so, you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:17-21)
“For Yahweh has a day of vengeance, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion. Its streams will be turned into pitch, its dust into sulfur, and its land will become burning pitch.” (Isaiah 34:8-9)
“The wilderness and the dry land will be glad. The desert will rejoice and blossom like a rose. It will blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing. Lebanon’s glory Lebanon will be given to it, the excellence of Carmel and Sharon. They will see Yahweh’s glory, the excellence of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Tell those who have a fearful heart, “Be strong. Don’t be afraid. Behold, your God will come with vengeance, God’s retribution. He will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame man will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will sing; for waters will break out in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.” (Isaiah 35:1-6)
“Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and save every man his life; don’t be cut off in her iniquity: for it is the time of Yahweh’s vengeance; he will render to her a recompense.” (Jeremiah 51:6)
You can see both aspects of God’s vengeance throughout these selections. In some instances God releases people to the disastrous results of their choice to reject His authority as they chase after other options for gods. But for those who are willing to cooperate, His vengeance is healing, restoring, invigorating and salvages all that is wrong. As revealed here in Isaiah 35, God’s vengeance and retribution means He will come and save those who are open to Him.
“I came to throw fire on the earth. I wish it were already kindled. But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace in the earth? I tell you, no, but rather division.” (Luke 12:49-51)
“Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let those who are in the midst of her depart. Let those who are in the country not enter therein. For these are days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” (Luke 21:21-22)
With God, fire and wrath (literally ‘strong passion’) are not about retaliation and punitive justice but about reversing the effects of evil and lies. The days of vengeance Jesus speaks of here would happen in the days when He would be compelled to withdraw His protecting hand that had shielded His recalcitrant people from destruction by enemy forces. He had to withdraw because of their total rejection of His ways and His authority over their lives. And when God withdraws, all hell breaks loose because that is what Satan does when given free access to humans separated from God. Satan hates humans because we are designed to reflect God’s heart to the universe, so he seeks to deface the image of God in every way he can and then gets us to blame God for everything the enemy causes in us.
Let’s take a closer look at the link between vengeance and judgment.
“This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and doesn’t come to the light, lest his works would be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his works may be revealed, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:19-21)
Vengeance is also found in judgment – God’s version of judgment that is. Jesus explicitly spells out the nature of God’s kind of judgment: Light comes and those exposed by the light of truth either hate it or come to it to be saved. God’s light exposes everything that is hidden – that is judgment. For those who choose to come to His light willingly, the light is healing and restorative. Yet to those who resist and hate the light, it appears threatening and terrifying. This is what we need to understand while reading Scripture – an appreciation of the true character of God according to Jesus’ revelation of Him.
God’s vengeance then, is when His reputation is vindicated as light exposes all the lies about Him and are completely discredited and debunked. This is God’s judgment. All the lies insinuating that God has a dark side, that God has to resort to violence, threats, fear, intimidation or even deception in order to overcome the power of evil – all must be exposed as fraudulent and baseless. All the slander against God’s reputation must be seen clearly for what it really is so that trust in God and His ways can be forever established without any lingering fear to contaminate it.
God will only have love as the foundation of His government and will never rely on fear as a basis upon which to maintain His relationships with His children. Fear and love are incompatible and cause what Scripture calls double-mindedness which is mental and emotional instability (James 1:5-8). This makes it impossible to trust God or to thrive in the atmosphere of vulnerability necessary for intimacy. Intimacy is what God designed us to enjoy the most. This is why God refuses to build a kingdom using any of Satan’s principles, for they are toxic to His kingdom of pure agape love that Christ is setting up that will last eternally.
Throughout the history of Satan’s rebellion against God’s government of love alone, deceptions and insinuations about God’s motives has caused many, even among God’s loyal followers, to have confused perceptions about things like justice, vengeance and judgment. Because God has to communicate using our language in order for us to understand and listen at all, He often allows His servants to say things about Him that are not completely accurate in order to get as much of the truth across as possible under the circumstances. This has caused us confusion, for it is like listening to a parent who must speak to a very young child at times in ways that may sound harsh or threatening. We might extrapolate that to infer that the parent actually is harsh, arbitrary and even mean-spirited.
What is required is greater maturity and understanding to discern the difference between expression in context and actual truth about the character of a parent. God is willing to risk being misunderstood if it means potentially breaking through stubborn resistance and immaturity to arouse a positive response in order to move His children toward a more mature appreciation of the real truth about Him.
This is what we encounter all through Scripture and helps explain this symbolic interchange we find in Revelation with ‘souls’ under the altar seeking ‘just vengeance’ from God for the unfair way they have been treated by their enemies.
“When he opened the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been killed for the Word of God, and for the testimony of the Lamb which they had. They cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, Master, the holy and true, until you judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” A long white robe was given to each of them. They were told that they should rest yet for a while, until their fellow servants and their brothers, who would also be killed even as they were, should complete their course.” (Revelation 6:9-11)
Notice that God does not try to correct their perception of the nature of His vengeance. It is already in both the Old and New Testaments that we are to leave vengeance up to God. This is because He cannot trust us to do it His way because of our warped ideas about justice and our ungodly desires for retaliation and punishment against our enemies. All these cravings are results of sin and selfishness and a lack of mature love in our hearts and are not reflective of the pure love that exists in the heart of God. These faithful martyrs are simply instructed to wait for a time giving space for things to become more clear as to how God intends to resolve the unfairness that sin has brought existence.
“I saw when he opened the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake. The sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became as blood. The stars of the sky fell to the earth, like a fig tree dropping its unripe figs when it is shaken by a great wind. The sky was removed like a scroll when it is rolled up. Every mountain and island were moved out of their places. The kings of the earth, the princes, the commanding officers, the rich, the strong, and every slave and free person, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains. They told the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of his wrath has come; and who is able to stand?” (Revelation 6:12-17)
Note the reactions of all who have rejected the truth about God, embracing instead lies that He is two-faced as Satan has insisted. When Jesus returns again, all who have rejected the truth that God is love and light alone and has no dark side, are left with the only other option available, that God is in fact like Satan claims He is like. Believing such lies though, always produces reactions of terror as we are sure about what this vengeful God will do to all who resist conformity to His demands. It is such lies about God that are behind all fear, and this is why it is crucial that we receive a love of the truth, so that we may have boldness in judgment instead of terror when encountering a loving, gentle Lamb. Terror of an innocent Lamb is the epitome of mental illness, which is exactly what sin causes.
“For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and a fierceness of fire which will devour the adversaries. A man who disregards Moses’ law dies without compassion on the word of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will he be judged worthy of, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified an unholy thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance belongs to me,” says the Lord, “I will repay.” Again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:26-31)
“Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God has avenged you on her!” Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore.” (Revelation 18:20-21 NKJV)
“Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. For with whatever judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2)
The reason that Satan’s counterfeit systems that dominate this world will be thrown down with violence is explained in the principle given by Jesus here. There is a saying rooted in this principle that goes, ‘What goes around comes around.’ In other words, how you treat others will come back to you, and often with greater force than when it started.
Jesus says that the kind of judgment we choose to embrace will inevitable be returned to us. Thus if we choose to cling to Satan’s kind of justice, demanding retribution and punishment for every evil deed and reward for every good deed, then that is how we will perceive as reality when judgment comes back on us. The judgment we receive is interpreted through the filter we use. What we believe about how God should do judgment dictates how we interpret what happens in judgment. This is why those who reject the truth about God run in terror when the glory of God is fully displayed, for they cannot believe that God will do anything but retaliate the way they think He must, even though it is not true.
Earthly systems of governing based on artificial law and compulsion that the Bible calls Babylon will all collapse violently because violence is what it they base their existence on. The kind of judgment they have used to manipulate and control everyone else will be what returns to haunt them when their own fraud is exposed and those they have deceived and exploited turn against them. This is the prophetic insights of Revelation, in particular where we see that the victims of evil powers end up inflicting the violent ‘judgments’ against their exploiters rather than God imposing them directly. God’s judgment is simply to expose and allow truth and love to be clearly seen which in turn undermines and exposes all the slander and lies of false systems of abuse. What happens as a result of this exposure is in turn entirely dictated by the character of those reacting to the light.
“Don’t judge according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” (John 7:24)
“But Yahweh said to Samuel, “Don’t look on his face, or on the height of his stature; because I have rejected him: for Yahweh sees not as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but Yahweh looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
Because it is impossible for us to see into the heart and know the true motives of anyone, we must always defer judgment and vengeance to God, for only God can bring in the light of truth in the most effective ways possible in hopes of bringing as many as possible to saving repentance. This is why we are never to hate our enemies but rather treat them as Jesus treated them and instructed us to treat them, for hidden inside their heart may yet be a kernel of hope that the Spirit of God may use to salvage them from control of the dark spirits that deceive their minds and darken their hearts. By responding with only love to our enemies, we may reflect the truth about God as we are designed to do, thus giving God opportunity to draw them toward the light so that if at all possible, through our witness to them as to the true nature of how God feels about them in kindness, they may be won to repentance and be saved.
“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4 NAS95)
“Bless those who persecute you; bless, and don’t curse.” (Romans 12:14)
“Repay no one evil for evil. Respect what is honorable in the sight of all men.” (Romans 12:17)
“You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people; but you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am Yahweh.” (Leviticus 19:18)
“Now therefore, my lord, as Yahweh lives, and as your soul lives, seeing Yahweh has withheld you from blood guiltiness, and from avenging yourself with your own hand, now therefore let your enemies, and those who seek evil to my lord, be as Nabal.” (1 Samuel 25:26)
“and blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, that have kept me this day from blood guiltiness, and from avenging myself with my own hand.” (1 Samuel 25:33)
“Don’t be a witness against your neighbor without cause. Don’t deceive with your lips. Don’t say, “I will do to him as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work.” (Proverbs 24:28-29)
“Thus says the Lord Yahweh: Because Edom has dealt against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and has greatly offended, and revenged himself on them; therefore thus says the Lord Yahweh, I will stretch out my hand on Edom, and will cut off man and animal from it; and I will make it desolate from Teman; even to Dedan shall they fall by the sword.” (Ezekiel 25:12-13)
“But I tell you, don’t resist him who is evil; but whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:39)
“But I tell you who hear: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you. To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer also the other; and from him who takes away your cloak, don’t withhold your coat also.” (Luke 6:27-29)
“It came to pass, when the days were near that he should be taken up, he intently set his face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before his face. They went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, so as to prepare for him. They didn’t receive him, because he was traveling with his face set towards Jerusalem. When his disciples, James and John, saw this, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from the sky, and destroy them, just as Elijah did?” But he turned and rebuked them, “You don’t know of what kind of spirit you are. For the Son of Man didn’t come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” They went to another village.” (Luke 9:51-56)
“Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you such a long time, and do you not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father. How do you say, ‘Show us the Father?'” (John 14:9)
“Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing so, you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:20-21)
When evil is at last completely annihilated with good, God’s vengeance will be accomplished.
Thank you, Floyd for that excellent article.