'Vengeance Is Mine' Marc Brisebois
God made a universal claim we need to respect
There are good reasons God said, ‘Vengeance is Mine’. A key one is our gross inability to secure justice without Him. History is complicated already, and the sordid issues of self-interest compound it, making ‘vengeance equity’ that much more elusive. As such the Scriptures warn us repeatedly, but most specifically with these three words – Vengeance is Mine!
God has chosen to chiefly oversee ultimate universal justice. In the final judgment He will open all the books to render a heavenly verdict. Even so, He has assigned some temporal law enforcement to men; within important limits however!
Going beyond those limits is asking for trouble. Particularly when we assume we can judge the entirety of human history. Unfortunately this is the direction some contemporary social justice advocates have taken. Faith demands another posture!
Presuming insight to balance the weight of a lifetime’s worth of injustice is nearly impossible. Taking on hundreds of years is sheer hubris. Surely the wrath of man is not so self assured.
Presuming insight to balance the weight of a lifetime's worth of injustice is nearly impossible. Taking on hundreds of years is sheer hubris.
Humility suggests we all look upon our history with a little more grace. In particular, when we consider the complexity of the legal process, we can see how elusive justice can be.
Between lawyers, expert witnesses and the divergent eyewitness accounts, the likelihood of total clarity is slim. Yes, there are open and shut cases, but all too often, discretion and wisdom make up the better part of judgments. Deciding justly is an extremely arduous task rife with weighty responsibility; something to consider when flippantly assigning guilt to others at a distance.
Deciding justly is an extremely arduous task rife with weighty responsibility; something to consider when flippantly assigning guilt to others at a distance.
Time Erodes Everything
Historical wrongs are even more complex so we should consider that in the light of normal prosecution. A typical case takes months with some unfolding over years. Doubtless, the longer the period the more mired in obscurity.
How is it some think they can hammer out a modicum of sense for issues over 500 to 1000 years old?
Determining the culpability of people for recent crimes is hard enough, how is it we think it will be achievable after decades and centuries? Clearly, an admonishment for caution and pause is in order before we recklessly add to an already imperfect record.
Determining the culpability of people for recent crimes is hard enough, how is it we think it will be achievable after decades and centuries?
Obviously all is not well, as history is filled with tragedy and injustice. Yet we need to recognize some things are beyond our capacity and authority. Wisdom suggests we take heed to the warning and claim of God – Vengeance is Mine!
The complexities of justice grow with the passing of time. As such our legal system adopted an important standard called the Statute of Limitations. It is designed to protect us from the erosion of evidence able to exonerate the innocent.
Understanding how undiscovered evidence expires and memories fade, decent legal systems have adopted this as a countermeasure against unfair conviction. The limitation amounts to an expiry date after which charges can no longer be applied. Serious charges, such as murder, have no expiry date but maintain a very high standard of conviction.
In the light of talk around historical reparations, there’s an important principle worthy of our attention. When it comes to determining guilt or innocence, evidence necessary to disprove a claim can be lost over time. Regarding slavery, both opponents and supporters are grouped together. Those who fought and those who profited are equally condemned, all of whom are no longer alive. How do we disprove a claim from before we were born? It is quite impossible!
Being forced to provide an alibi for an evening 10 years ago is nearly impossible when you can’t remember what you had for supper last month. Worse yet, try to determine what your ancestors did or did not do 400 years ago.
The statute exists to prevent a dormant claim from being the source of cruelty and abuse. These rules of prosecution guard against the potential miscarriage of justice. But injustice comes in many shapes and forms.
Sin is Common
Another source is the rational being promoted by the political left. While making victims of some it hopes to criminalize others. By these measures who in human history is innocent? Are those who claim they are owed ready to examine their own history? Again, God for good reason said, ‘Leave vengeance to Me’. He, and He alone, is able to not only judge the actions but the motives of the heart, making Him the singular choice for weighing nations and peoples.
Who knows what circumstances visited upon civilizations are the result of that assessment? And who knows what is yet to come? These are matters not requiring our interjections.
The shortsightedness of these vain attempts at justice is, at best misguided, but most likely an attempt to seize power. Otherwise there would not be a focus on just one race. At this very moment there are staggering numbers of slaves throughout the earth needing emancipation, yet none of these voices cry for their justice. Indeed, the idea that other nations, tribes and peoples did not enslave and sell others is preposterous. There can be no justice without a full account.
At this very moment there are staggering numbers of slaves throughout the earth needing emancipation, yet none of these voices cry for their justice.
Where would we start? More importantly, where would we stop? If group A did something to group B and we fix that, what about what Group B did to C or D? The task is inconceivable! Only One could ever accurately measure the heart, never mind the heart of every person who has ever lived.
If we are going to suggest prosecuting a narrow cross section of mankind, be prepared to be bound to the same standard. If one is responsible for the sins of their forefathers then all are. Slavery is a despicable evil, but is not unique to a select people!
Wisdom from Above
Again, there is profound wisdom in obeying God’s counsel. Furthermore there is liberty for your own soul, but that is a topic for another day. What matters now is this: We were never given the mandate to execute eternal justice. Furthermore, our present peace and prosperity does not depend on it. Rather, God gave us the responsibility of mercy and not vengeance.
The apostle wrote to the Romans laying a clear path to real justice. Living at the very epicentre of the Roman empire, they were subjected to a class system. This was not a perceived inferiority, but like many cultures today, it was entrenched in law. Far from being a vague undefinable nuance the lines between master and slave were etched in stone. In Rome injustice was not a matter of micro aggression or vague privilege, it was real and tangible.
As such they were unaccustomed to justice. To them these words were quoted — Vengeance is Mine!
But the instructions went much further.
“Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
— Romans 12:17-21
There are clear mental health benefits to doing this. Yet for people of faith it goes much further.
The Power of Real Faith
The kind of faith that obeys these words is the kind that actually leads to liberty and justice. Faith is the vehicle that literally releases the hand of God on our behalf. In this sense our reliance on God empowers the eternal wheels of justice. Here it is in context:
“Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.”
— Romans 12:19
Give place to wrath, he said. Far from being a religious admonition to be nice, this counsel is a colossal expression of Kingdom Truth. Our ability to trust God unlocks something eternal that begins to interfere with this present age.
This creates a potential far beyond what vengeance might secure. Not only can our lives be vastly improved, but an entire culture can swing into a new era of freedom and blessing. This promise was realized by the first century Christians, whose obedience engulfed the world and transformed the greatest empire of their time.
God Himself is the only trustworthy eyewitness to history.
Like many others throughout history they were wronged. Yet they were still unhindered and the exercise of their faith ushered in measures of freedom that the world had never seen.
When we believe we can forgive, knowing we lose nothing. The inverse is predictable!
God Himself is the only trustworthy eyewitness to history. If we take justice from His hands we only ensure more injustice. On the other hand turning our hearts to the ‘Just Judge of all’ will unleash nothing short of heaven on earth. Trusting Him with what is beyond your reach, not only makes sense, it is a shout to the heavens that says, ‘Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done!’ Vengeance is Yours, Lord!
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