Discover His heart: He longs for repentance that stops the hand of judgment
Revenge – how sweet it is! At least that seems to be a prevailing attitude in our culture. Many have adopted the idiom, “Don’t get mad, get even.” My husband tells a joke that is appropriate here – A 16-year old boy arrives home driving a brand new truck. The father shouts, “Where did you get that truck? You don’t have any money.” The boy replies, “I bought it from a lady down the street for $15!” Well, this alarmed the father. What kind of woman would sell this truck for $15? She must have an ulterior motive.
The father rushed down the street and asked the woman why she did this. The woman replied, “Well, I thought my husband was on a business trip, but I just received a call from him from Hawaii. Seems he ran off with his mistress and is in need of money. He asked me to sell his car and send him the money…so I did.” Scary stuff, revenge is.
Revenge may bring some immediate gratification, but the long-term ramifications can wipe that smile right off a face. Better to put payback in the hands of God, “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19) In our reading today, Israel’s neighbors were about to feel the heat.
The seven nations surrounding tiny Israel had long persecuted and attacked God’s chosen people. Even though His own people were sinful and rebellious at times, God would avenge them because they were His responsibility and not that of the surrounding nations. Judgment was coming to Ammon, Moab, Edom Philistia, Tyre, Sidon and proud Egypt because they rejoiced at Israel’s devastation at the hands of Babylon and cheered at the desecration of the Temple. Ancient racism toward the Israelites had filled their hearts, as well as jealousy over Israel’s many victories.
God’s vengeance was swift, and these nations eventually met their own fate at Babylon’s mighty sword. At the end of each pronouncement of judgment, God said something similar to, “When I have inflicted my revenge, they will know that I am the Lord.” (25:17) Revenge did not come from Israel, it came from the Lord; however, He would have stayed His hand of judgment at the first sign of repentance. In Ezekiel 18:23, God asked Ezekiel, “Do you think that I like to see wicked people die?… Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.” God is merciful.
From these scriptures, we can learn about God’s attitude concerning our enemies. He knows their past, present and future and why they do the things they do, facts we are seldom privy to. He will often withhold dealing with an offense towards us because He knows that our enemy’s battle is really with Him, not with us, or He knows that restoration is in the future. God is merciful; but without repentance, in due time judgment is His to give.
When we take matters into our own hands to get even, we may circumvent God’s divine plan to bring healing and restoration to our relationships. Jesus said, “If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also…Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:39,44-45) Sometimes we just get dizzy from turning that cheek so many times, and we start to think He just doesn’t understand the pain from the hurtful things said or done to us, the betrayal and the rejection. But then, of course, He does. Remember Calvary?
Moving Forward: Sunny today, with no chance of revenge. Should an enemy develop throughout the day, I won’t get even – I won’t even get mad- because God is in control!
Tomorrow @ Luke 19-20