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Leaving vengeance to the wrath of God

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  • Leaving vengeance to the wrath of God

    We are commanded not to avenge ourselves but to leave all vengeance to God’s wrath.

    Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19 ESV)

    But just how do we leave vengeance to God? If what another person does to hurt us involves a violation of the law, there is a very easy way. Inform the police and press criminal charges against him. Here is what the Bible says about the role of government.

    Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. (Romans 13:1-4 ESV)

    Did you notice the last sentence? For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. When we ask the government to take action against someone who has hurt us we are not avenging ourselves but turning the matter over to God’s servant.

    Because humans are evil it is necessary for God to impose restraints on our conduct and he has established human government for this purpose. The first recorded instance of this is found in the command God gave to Noah after the flood.

    From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.

    Whoever sheds the blood of man,
    by man shall his blood be shed,
    for God made man in his own image. (Genesis 9:5,6 ESV)

    We have no record of his giving such a command before the flood. Perhaps this is why evil prevailed so much that the flood was required. When he established the nation of Israel he gave a criminal code which prescribed punishments for various crimes and he also gave commands concerning warfare. As individuals we are forbidden to retaliate or seek vengeance for wrongs which are done to us, but these restrictions do not apply to governments. If we work for the government in law enforcement or the military we can and should avenge wrongdoing because we are serving God for this purpose.

    The church is not a nation as Israel was. We are forbidden to take vengeance on others but must submit to the laws of the country in which we live. Some have taken the commands that are given for individuals and applied them to government, advocating the abolition of the death penalty and refusal to serve in the military. If you read the New Testament without reference to the Old it is possible to make a case for these views. When I was eighteen years old and required to register for the draft I seriously considered registering as a conscientious objector. I had only been a Christian a little over a year and my knowledge of the Bible was very limited.

    Although the New Testament says little about government authority it does contain enough information to show that pacifism is wrong. Jesus healed the servant of a centurion and commended that centurion for his faith (Matthew 8:5-13, Luke 7:1-10). The first Gentile convert to the church was a centurion (Acts 10). Jesus once commanded his disciples to buy swords so they would be able to defend themselves. Buy a sword but turn the other cheek.

    Government officials are servants of God but because they are human they are imperfect servants and sometimes make mistakes. One area where mistakes occur is in the application of the death penalty. Capital punishment is not always applied fairly and innocent people are sometimes executed. Opponents of capital punishment cite this as a reason for abolishing the death penalty, but doing this wouldn’t really solve the problem. Innocent people would still be convicted and punished. We should respond to the problem by enacting safeguards in our trial procedures that would prevent the conviction of those who are innocent. In the Old Testament the testimony of at least two witnesses was required before someone could be put to death. A similar requirement should be part of modern laws. Perhaps this would lead to the acquittal of some guilty people but that would be better than executing someone who is innocent.
    Clyde Herrin's Blog

  • #2
    This is a tricky topic. I think that just like the Bible states, vengeance is God's. However, the lawmakers and judges are God's servants and through them we get justice. There were laws during Moses's time that the Israelites were to follow. If one broke the law they would be punished. There were some offences that even had death as the penalty. I personally believe that God works through the judicial systems so that His people can get vengeance. The problem arises from issues like corruption and greed that leads to wrong judgements and innocent people find themselves serving sentences that are not theirs.
    The Bible says that just like the birds, God will provide for us. However, it is only if we work. The same way, we do not expect God to come personally and avenge us. It is taking us who wrong us to the courts and justice is bestowed. Taking the matter into our own hands is what I think God did not want us to do.
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    • #3
      Originally posted by Gad View Post
      The problem arises from issues like corruption and greed that leads to wrong judgements and innocent people find themselves serving sentences that are not theirs.
      All human justice is imperfect. Its function is to serve as a check on human behavior until the time comes when God will apply perfect justice and avenge all wrongdoing.
      Clyde Herrin's Blog
      Comment>

      • #4
        Originally posted by theophilus View Post
        All human justice is imperfect. Its function is to serve as a check on human behavior until the time comes when God will apply perfect justice and avenge all wrongdoing.
        theophilus I hope you are not insinuating that earthly judgement is not valid. God watches over everything everyday. I think those who will be in trouble are those who pass wrong judgements out of corruption since they are not exercising their God-given mandates in the right way.
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        • #5
          Originally posted by Gad View Post

          theophilus I hope you are not insinuating that earthly judgement is not valid. God watches over everything everyday. I think those who will be in trouble are those who pass wrong judgements out of corruption since they are not exercising their God-given mandates in the right way.
          And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28, NIV)

          It may sound absolutely absurd, but God might be using the corruption for a reason. Just trust that everything will work out. It's a principle that is very difficult to follow but I hold on to it every time things "fall apart".

          Back to the main discussion, do what you must, leave the rest to God. Mercy and forgiveness is something so hard to do in this modern times. Some people might see it as foolish but it's what God taught us.
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          • #6
            I have to agree as when we try to avenge something, we invite negativity. And this process of negativity is a path to demon. I think we have to understand that it's not our role to punish the world. You may find that vengeance leads to more negativity. It also bring insecurity and unhappiness. It'd be really hard to love our-self and the world again in that context. So vengeance is not the path one should seek. And one must leave it to the god. That's what I think for sure.
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            • #7
              Originally posted by Gad View Post
              This is a tricky topic. I think that just like the Bible states, vengeance is God's. However, the lawmakers and judges are God's servants and through them we get justice. There were laws during Moses's time that the Israelites were to follow. If one broke the law they would be punished. There were some offences that even had death as the penalty. I personally believe that God works through the judicial systems so that His people can get vengeance. The problem arises from issues like corruption and greed that leads to wrong judgements and innocent people find themselves serving sentences that are not theirs.
              The Bible says that just like the birds, God will provide for us. However, it is only if we work. The same way, we do not expect God to come personally and avenge us. It is taking us who wrong us to the courts and justice is bestowed. Taking the matter into our own hands is what I think God did not want us to do.
              I beg to differ a bit my good friend. Personally, I don't think God punishes sinners but satan. Likewise, I think vengeance is said to be of the Lord's because in reality we're actually required to forgive other people's offences against us, not take them to courts. Because, its only in forgiving that we're forgiven. Then of course you don't want your prayers answered. This is because in my understanding, grudges we hold against people kind of block certain blessings from reaching us.

              The Judicial and other systems in my humble opinion, are only in place to ensure law and order in our society. This goes a long way to promote adherence to God's commandments and stuff.
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