The Subtle Satisfaction of Taking Vengeance

May 10, 2014

The Subtle Satisfaction of Taking Vengeance

            “Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because that Edom hath dealt against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and hath greatly offended, and revenged himself upon them;   Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I will also stretch out mine hand upon Edom, and will cut off man and beast from it; and I will make it desolate from Teman; and they of Dedan shall fall by the sword. And I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people Israel: and they shall do in Edom according to mine anger and according to my fury; and they shall know my vengeance, saith the Lord GOD.   Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because the Philistines have dealt by revenge, and have taken vengeance with a despiteful heart, to destroy it for the old hatred; Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will stretch out mine hand upon the Philistines, and I will cut off the Cherethims, and destroy the remnant of the sea coast.   And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall lay my vengeance upon them”  (Ezequiel 25:12-17).

Once, in my childhood, I went to town with my father.  He went to talk to a man who lived on the edge of town.  While they were talking the man’s son approached him begging for money to buy candy.  His father said “no” more the once.  Finally the boy realized that he wasn’t going to get any money.  He went and stepped hard on his father’s toe.  I was surprised that his father didn’t do anything.  If I had done that, I’m sure I would have been given a spanking, maybe not then and there, but after we got home.  What I saw was a good example of vengeance. Most likely, the word “vengeance” wasn’t yet in my vocabulary.

God strictly commands us not to take vengeance.  Romans 12:19 says, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”

To take vengeance is to inflict suffering on someone because of something they have done to us.  Sometimes it’s just an act of retaliation because we didn’t get what we wanted from someone.  That’s the way it was with the little boy who stepped on his father’s toe.

When we take vengeance it’s as if we take the law into our own hands.  We declare someone guilty and decide what their punishment should be.  Sometimes the one taking vengeance chooses a punishment that will leave his opponent suffering over a period of time.  That way the one taking vengeance gets to serve as the jailer.  That way his satisfaction is prolonged over a period of time.

Sometimes the wrongdoer repents and goes on bended knee to the one he has hurt and asks forgiveness.  However, instead of forgiving, the one who was hurt may go on with a bad spirit towards him.  That way he can go on enjoying the satisfaction of seeing his opponent suffer.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to see justice done, but we should never find satisfaction in seeing someone suffer.  To refuse forgiveness is to refuse to apply the teaching of the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:19.

God is the only one who has liberty to take vengeance.  Nahum 1:2 says, “God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.”  Deuteronomy 32:35 says, “To me belongeth vengeance and recompense.” God is a righteous judge.  He judged the wicked nations that inhabited the Promised Land before his people moved in to possess it.  He used his people to annihilate them, but they couldn’t have done it without God’s help.  God is sovereign over all.  I Corinthians 10:28 says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” In Matthew 20:15 Jesus asked the question “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?” The obvious answer is “Yes.”

An explanation is in order between taking vengeance and reporting a crime to the authorities.  It is for your protection as well as that of others to report a crime.  The offender has to be made to realize that he is hurting others by his behavior.  If no one reports him, he will go on being a menace to society.  When he is brought to justice you will not be the one to decide if he is guilty, or how he should be punished.  If you are the one who reported him to the authorities, you may be called upon to be a witness in a court case.  If that happens, it shouldn’t be done with a bad spirit.  Just tell the truth and leave the decision to be made by others.

There are cases in which it would not be right to report a crime to the legal authorities.  In a case where the guilty one is a Christian and a member of your church, I Corinthians 6:1-2  tells us what to do.  “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?   Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?” The verses that follow go on to say that the matter should be brought before the church.  It may be that the offender can be brought to repentance and restoration.  Even so, he should be judged and disciplined, perhaps by being taken out of church membership for a time.  This procedure has two benefits.  It protects the testimony of the church.  It also delivers the offender from a more severe punishment that would be meted out by the civil court.  It would also protect him from the stigma of having a court record.

The obedient believer should experience what Psalm 91:1 says. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” The believer who dwells there is willing to tell God about what he has suffered and let him be the judge and meet out the punishment.  When someone takes vengeance, the offender often returns with a vengeance of his own.  If it is left in God’s hands, that won’t happen.  God is much more capable of taking vengeance than we are.  Leave it with him.

Our e-mail address is rusandmargaretgeorge@windstream.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

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