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Tuesday, September 27, 2022
Bible Meditation: 
Deuteronomy 32: 34-47

If I whet My glittering sword, and MY HAND takes hold on JUDGEMENT, I will render VENGEANCE to My enemies…” Deuteronomy 32:41a

No adversary or enemy can resist or withstand GOD’S HAND of VENGEANCE and JUDGEMENT: Now see that I, even I, am He, and there is no God besides Me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; nor is there any who can deliver from MY HAND. For I raise MY HAND to heaven, and say, “As I live forever, If I whet My glittering sword, and MY HAND takes hold on JUDGEMENT, I will render VENGEANCE to My enemies, and repay those who hate Me (Deut.32: 39-41). This forms part of the closing stanza of the Song of Moses (Deut.31:30-32:47). Being aware of the people’s tendency to rebel against God, Moses left them a song to remind them of God’s loving care for them and of the need for faithfulness on their part towards Him (Deut.31:29-30). In Justice God would punish them, and in Mercy He would forgive them.

Though in His righteous anger, God punished His people for their unfaithfulness and rebellion despite His care, love, and protection, He would not allow the nation to be completely destroyed, lest people thought that they, and not God, controlled Israel’s destiny. Even when He used other nations to punish His people, He also punished those nations, along with their gods, for their own wickedness, such that Israel too would see the futility of false gods, return to Him, and be healed (vv.34-43). The people were to memorize and sing this song, to remind them to keep God’s law. God gave the law for their good, and by keeping it they would enjoy life in the land He had given them (vv.44-47).

How do these scriptures apply to New Testament Believers? We live in a time where cancel culture is prevalent globally; society is not acting out of forgiveness but rather vengeance. When people offend us, the tendency is to strike back or payback in the same coin. At a glance, this seems reasonable. People should be held accountable. However, God says that vengeance is His, not ours. He has not approved of us taking personal revenge on people (v.35). Vengeance, though legitimate, must be left to the Righteous Judge! God feels anger, but God is good! We feel anger, but we’re not always good! We might feel justified in our anger, but like Israel of old, our emotions can lead us astray.

Vengeance is an idea that most people are familiar with and even desire at one time or another. We desire justice, but don’t always want to go God’s route toward that end. As sinful mortals, we might use our anger in a way that does not please the Lord. For example, Moses murdered a man in a moment of anger (Exo.2:11-12). He decided for himself to acquire vengeance and sinned in the process. Only by relying on God can we ensure that any vengeance inflicted is done righteously. Moses’ song does not present the Old Testament sentiment of an eye for an eye (Lev.24: 19-21). Vengeance belongs to God. Human anger cannot accomplish God’s degree of righteousness: “For the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (Jam.1:20).

The New Testament teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ as well as the Apostles, centre on Forgiveness, not Vengeance (Mt.5:38-39). There are consequences for sin, but God is in charge of those, not us. Of course, relying on God for vengeance does not mean that legal systems should be abolished. Jesus never called for the abolition of all laws; but that we learn to forgive. If God is in charge of revenge, we need to ensure we work on forgiving others. We can use the law, but taking matters into our own hands to cause other people suffering, can lead to our ruin. Vengeance is not meant to be taken out on our own accord: “Repay no evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men” (Rom.12:17). We can never fight for ourselves better that God will fight for us by His Mighty Hand of Vengeance!

Adetokunbo O. Ilesanmi (Meditations)

Lord, let YOUR HAND of VENGEANCE render just recompense to Your enemies, as You vindicate us for Your Glory, in Jesus’ name.
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