There is something in man that wants to revenge whenever a hurt is done. We naturally want to enact vengeance on our enemies especially when we are clearly hurt. In Christianity, this subject has experienced a lot of ‘back and forth’ debates and approaches. Some believers have resorted to including it directly in their prayers and now almost the main theme of seeking God:
‘…Anyone that has delayed my progress thus far…die by fire’
‘…it shall not be well with whoever is against my wellness…’
‘…whoever is standing on my way to breakthrough…let thunder strike on them…’
These are serious issues that bothers on the quest of man to have vengeance and swift justice to evil practices of men. Some other schools of thought among Christians totally go against the call for vengeance on enemies. This thought pattern bothers on a ‘belief system’ that places God in a class of passiveness towards evil actions of men and inability to strike at evil deeds.
A friend once told me about how a father had to go diabolical to avenge what happened to one of his children. In his paraphrased statement: ‘the God of Christianity is not efficient and effective in handling matters that requires vengeance’. What then will be the accurate disposition of a believer towards the issue of vengeance especially when a totally unjustifiable hurt was done to the believer?
First, I will like to confront the theology that places God as being passive and ineffective towards the evil actions of men. Theories that uses the word ‘cannot’ carelessly on things that concerns the character of God.
“God cannot kill’’, “God cannot do this or do that…”
Yes there are things God CANNOT DO. But when investigating the JUSTICE of God, the word ‘CANNOT’ must be used with utmost carefulness. There is no need being fuzzy, misty or muddy about clear scriptures of the Bible. Even without going to the Old Testament, the pages of the New Testament sufficiently teaches that God is a God of Justice and Vengeance! Jesus said:
‘…Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who CAN DESTROY both soul AND BODY in hell…’ (Matt 10:28)
The book of Luke re-echoed this verse in a stronger tone:
‘…But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after HE HATH KILLED hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear Him…’ (Luke 12:5)
The Apostle Paul was careful to note the judgment of God behind a particular event in the Old Testament:
‘…The GOD of this people of Israel chose our fathers…And when He HAD DESTROYED SEVEN NATIONS in the land of Canaan, he divided their land to them by lot….’ (Acts 13:17, 19)
In Thessalonians, Paul also wrote:
‘…Seeing it is A RIGHTEOUS THING WITH GOD to RECOMPENSE TRIBULATION to them that trouble you…’ (2Thess 1:6)
Oh wow! He later continued:
‘…In flaming fire TAKING VENGEANCE on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall BE PUNISHED WITH EVERLASTING DESTRUCTION FROM THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD, and from the glory of his power…’ (2Thess 1:8-9)
Some teach that since the punishment is ‘from the presence of the Lord’, then it infers God is not involved. The error in this is the impatient conclusion on a superstitious theory. The book of Revelation was quick in correcting such position:
‘…he too will drink the wine of God’s anger, poured undiluted into the cup of His wrath. And he will be tormented in fire and brimstone IN THE PRESENCE OF THE HOLY ANGELS AND OF THE LAMB…’ (Rev 14:10)
The everlasting punishment Paul talked about is therefore well explained as ‘separation from the MERCIES of God’ and ‘present with the JUSTICE of God’. Peter was clear on this subject too:
‘…For if GOD SPARED NOT the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And SPARED NOT the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, BRINGING IN THE FLOOD UPON THE WORLD of the ungodly; And TURNING THE CITIES OF SODOM and Gomorrha into ashes CONDEMNED THEM WITH AN OVERTHROW, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly…’ (2Peter 2:4-6)
All these are New Testament passages. None of them ever hinted that God cannot kill or inflict appropriate judgment on the world of the wicked. Jude was so direct in his own approach to the above subject:
‘…I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that THE LORD, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward DESTROYED THEM THAT BELIEVED NOT…’ (Jude 1:5)
It is noteworthy that some other versions directly substituted the word ‘the Lord’ with ‘Jesus’! (NLT, BSB, CSB, ESV).
Some folks would say: ‘the book of James said God does not tempt with evil’. My concern is that no one is arguing that fact!God can never TEMPT with evil!!! The Key word here is ‘TEMPT’!The context of that verse is referring to the unjust inducement of man to commit sin, violate divine rules and make him worse.
‘…Let no man say when he is TEMPTED, I am TEMPTED of God: for God cannot be TEMPTED with evil, neither TEMPTETH he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth SIN: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death…’ (James 1:13-15)
There are 2 usages for the word ‘tempt’ in scriptures.
1) Testings or Trials
2) Lure to sin
The context of the above verse is the second point above: a lure to sin! God will never do that. But in this same chapter, at the early verses, the word temptation was also used.
‘…My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers TEMPTATIONS; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience, But let patience have her perfect work, that ye MAY BE PERFECT and entire, wanting nothing…’ (James 1:2-4)
This is referring to testing or trials. The temptation referred here in vs 2 is different from the temptation referred to in vs 13. So before confusing what James was talking about, let it be clear that James taught in the 4th Chapter that God possesses the full ability and capability to SAVE and to DESTROY!
‘…GOD ALONE, who gave the law, is the Judge. HE ALONE HAS THE POWER TO SAVE OR TO DESTROY. So what right do you have to judge your neighbour?’ (James 4:12 NLT)
Interesting. Jesus affirmed it. Paul affirmed it. Peter affirmed it. Jude affirmed it; and James affirmed it. It is therefore entirely baseless for anybody to annul what the apostles affirmed! We should recall that this post is written to answer the question on ‘divine execution of vengeance’ and there is more to learn on this subject.
– Are we to call on vengeance in prayers?
– Is there a place for venting our anger for offences against us?
– In the New Covenant of Grace, does God still strike evil deeds of people?
These and more we will examine in the Part 2 of this series.
‘…Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…’ (Col 3:15)