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Wednesday: Pour Out Your Indignation — 13 Comments

  1. I think all of us want at some stage to wreak vengeance on those who do evil. We like to see people getting the punishment they deserve.

    I was driving home from Queensland a couple of years ago and decided to take the narrower New England highway rather than the Pacific Motorway - just for a change or scenery. Another motorist tailgated me as I was only doing the speed limit. Annoyingly he flashed his lights at me and finally overtook me dangerously, gave me the rude finger sign, and sped off into the distance. Twenty minutes later, I noticed the same car pulled over on the shoulder of the road and right behind him a police car with flashing blue lights. I felt so-oo good! I wanted to pull up and say thank you to the police officer!

    Just a couple of days ago a grandmother was shopping when she was held up and stabbed to death by a group of 4 teenage boys right in front of her young granddaughter. Don't you feel like you would want to feed those kids through a mincer?

    The Bible has a fair bit to say about vengeance and it is useful to read what God really means when he talks about it.

    For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. Isaiah 63: 4 KJV

    Interestingly we have "vengeance" and "redeemed" in the same sentence. Paul not only quotes Isaiah in his epistle to the Romans but expands on the idea of salvation:

    If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Romans 12: 18-20 KJV

    Ultimately the expression of God's vengeance is probably less about destruction and more about salvation.

  2. There are many unethical professional panhandlers. They stand at intersections of well-to-do neighborhoods with placards begging. They rotate neighborhoods and I gave to them on a few occasions until one early morning a few weeks ago, I went to the supermarket and lo and behold in the corner of the parking lot I saw 3 of them exiting a late model expensive SUV. The driver was the one who carried a sign saying “struggling single mother of 3.” I was furious but then I thought, did I misjudge? Are they being exploited or exploiting or is this a case of human trafficking?
    It is not our place to judge but we do and we need to ask for forgiveness.

    • Your observation about the exploitation of the public face of poverty is well documented here in Australia. The same is true of a lot of scamming actvity. I used to engage with phone scammers who would ring me up and tell me that my computer was sending errors out on the Internet. A couple of my questions would reveal that they were reading from a script and knew very little about computers. My favourite question was to ask the scammer what my IP address was. I would explain that seeing they had identified my computer as the source of the errors, they would know what my IP address was. Most of them did not even know what an IP address was. I ended up feeling very sorry for them (Not sorry enough to part with my money) because many of these scammers were working in sweatshop conditions and were being exploited by the evil-minded perpertators in the background.

      The public face of evil often hides a deeper and more sinister evil.

  3. Our best defense as many have said in the past. trust in the goodness of God. And we have a lot of that in the Psalms. Psalm 121:1-5.

  4. Vengeance and fighting evil when and where it presents itself are two different things. If I were there when the four boys were stabbing that innocent grandmother, I would have taking out my 9mm Glock and come to her defense by shooting those boys. That is not vengeance. It is defending the widows and fatherless. stopping to pray for her at that moment would not have stopped the violence. She was likely praying herself for an angle, a 9 mm.

    There are plenty of examples in the Bible of God sending His soldier(s) like David, to end evil. It was not always by His hand but it was by His will and direction. I respect the doctrine of the non-combatant but not for me. I do not want to leave it for someone else to do.

    • 9mm Glocks are a bit thin on the ground in Australia, Jim. But our murder rate is a lot lower than some other countries too. This morning there was a follow-up to the story that I want to share (Just a note of explanation: The youths involved in the alleged murder were of North African origin):

      The daughter of Vyleen White has joined the Queensland African Communities Council to call for calm after her mother was stabbed to death in a shopping centre car park on Saturday.

      Ms White died after being stabbed in the chest during an alleged robbery at Redbank Plains in Ipswich. The incident occurred in front of her six-year-old granddaughter.

      Five teenagers — aged between 15 and 16 — have been arrested in connection with the incident, and a 16-year-old boy has been charged with murder.

      Since Ms White's death, there have been reports of abuse and harassment towards Ipswich's African community.

      Ms White's daughter Cindy Micallef said her family had been "torn apart from the heart", but she didn't want the community to react in anger towards innocent families.

      "Mum's legacy will live on in peace. She was never one to be prejudiced, she always looked for the best in people," Ms Micallef said.

      Queensland African Communities Council president Beny Bol stood alongside Ms Micallef at a media conference in Redbank Plains this morning and said he was "moved" by her decision to join him in appealing for unity.

      "We are united, and we want to make sure that no other families go through the same pain again," he said.

      "This is not about race or religion, we are here because if somebody out there in our community — and I'm talking about the Australian community — and they care and they're grieving and they want to see Vyleen's legacy shine on, you need to join us. You need to be with us.

      "The best way we can honour her legacy is for us to preach peace, unity, justice and accountability, and make sure the people who do wrong things are held accountable individually." Australian Broadcasting Network News

      There is a basis for healing in the words offered by the victim's daughter.

  5. I’m not sure that the texts we read for today would help me answer the final question of today’s lesson. I always have to go back to the beginning, when sin began in heaven then came to this earth. I have to remember the promise God gave Adam & Eve, to put an end to sin. Gods goal is not to punish the wicked, His goal is to have us back home with Him, in a universe without an accuser, a universe with only love in each heart for others. So He will keep His promise and put an end to sin. For those who chose sin over love, God will mercifully let them go. Sin and all who cling to it will be no more. How that looks may be different than we picture because we only have our human perspective to view it. What we do know is that for God, that will be a very painful time.

  6. I really appreciate how the lesson writer reaches deep into the background of justice and fairness used by our God when dealing with the affairs of man. It is reassuring that there is no partiality with Him, that all will receive their just reward.

    Something in Psalm 69:26-28 caught my eye as I read David’s pleading with God:
    For they persecute the ones You have struck, and talk of the grief of those You have wounded.
    Add iniquity to their iniquity, and let them not come into Your righteousness.
    Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.”

    King David sees the calamities coming upon the people he was given charge over as the work of God’s justice. In response to God’s punishment, David’s and his fellow psalmist’s passion desires to see the enemies punished, as they consider themselves to be the victors.

    Who permitted this to happen in the first place? David wants to see his countrymen avenged by the same God who allowed them to receive their wounds because of His justice. He calls out to God to avenge them because they are now being persecuted by the enemies of God; so mocking God’s justice.

    Cruelty visited by man on man is always abhorrent. Considering it in the light of being a retribution against the powers of the armies of the evil one, it appears that asking God to use the enemies' cruelty against themselves seems to become an impartial act of justice.

    ‘How might these psalms help us put feelings of vengeance in proper perspective? We need to remember and ask ourselves: “who do we really battle with”? Do we ‘battle against flesh and blood - our selves or others -, or do we wrestle against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places?' - Eph.6:12.
    Jesus declared the war to be finished - He won! Now we engage in scrimishes to keep our faith strong – Matt.28:18-20! The everyday battles are ours to win – and we will overcome!

  7. It's kind of startling to hear David praying for someone's eternal destruction, not for their salvation (Ps.69:22-24). We know that God is kind to those who attack Him (Luke 23:34), and that He wants us to have His heart in this (Luke 6:27-29,35). Don't have a hard heart, God says, towards the poor...including those who are spiritually bankrupt.

    3 thoughts about "indignation against evil":

    (1) Young David was anointed to be king by the prophet Samuel. Israel's then-current anointed King Saul sought to take David's life relentlessly, but David refused to kill Saul even when he had the chance....because he respected God's anointing and refused to rush God's will (1 Sam. 24:6; 26:10-11,24). David was not sinless, but he did show a lot of patience in his life towards vicious personal attacks. He showed love toward, and prayed for, those who hated him (Ps. 109:4).

    So in these "damning" prayers where he is begging God to arise in judgment, I think David may be speaking God's will as an anointed man full of the Holy Spirit (1 Sam. 16:13). God had relentlessly given Saul chances to repent, God had pursued him with love and brought conviction to him (1 Sam. 10:10-11), but Saul turned his back on God's Word (1 Sam. 15:11-12,23,26). We see in Ps.69:4 that David's other enemies also hated him without cause, except the cause that David represented God. So in prayer, David is delivering these people over to God's custody, saying "Lord, it is time, consign Your adversaries to blindness and hardness of heart" (Ps. 69:23; Rom. 11:7-10). This is much like when the Jewish leaders were stoning Stephen and stopped up their ears to his vision of Jesus standing up in heaven....they were given over to the hardness of their hearts (Acts 7:57). And Psalm 69:4,9,21 were all referenced by Jesus during His life on Earth. So, I think in these strongly-worded cries against evil, David is speaking prophetically, as Jesus's voice, about the final end of the hardened enemies of God.

    (2) Eve wanted "knowledge of evil and good". Satan gave her that knowledge. And we all suffer with that knowledge now. It's a curse to have some knowledge of what is going on all over the world that is cruel and unjust, but not be able to do anything about it. The fruit of knowledge of evil is very heavy. Too heavy for us to carry alone. The pain of it is great, and also it is above our understanding (Job 42:3). We don't know why hearts go bad, why bad things happen to some and not others, how much evil hides inside our own heart or another's. So I am seeing that one of God's ways of making good come out of evil (Rom. 8:28), is to give us the power to actually do something about the knowledge of evil we have. We repent. We hear of an injustice or a need. We hand that fruit back to Him and say, "please give me wisdom and Your empowerment to minister to those affected by evil". God channels our outrage and indignation against evil into action with Him against it (John 14:12). (Only God can give us a "knowledge of good" too (Eph. 3:18-19; Phil. 4:7; Eph. 1:17-18).... God knew both good and evil are mysteries beyond us.)

    (3) And finally, God has His timing. Often God's timing and way of judgement involves letting someone build their own gallows and hang themselves upon it. We see this in the Great Controversy and how God is dealing with Satan's rebellion. God has let the Earth be ruled by Satan (1 John 5:19). At the Cross, Satan hung himself. We see it very clearly in several Bible stories too. One is the story of Haman and Esther. The timing was so exact so that by the time Esther revealed that her life was in danger, Haman had just completed the gallows for Mordecai from which he himself would hang. Mordecai and Esther were captives who won against the genocidal villain (Esther 2:5-6; Esther 8:1-2) who had been given power by the king (Esther 3:1). “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27). Events at the End of Time will happen quickly, just as they did for Haman, and God wants us to be developing trust in Him so we will have courage to play our role,.... and peace in our hearts that whatever God decides for His judgement against evil, we will trust Him and approve of decisions.

  8. I don't want to look proud or better than anybody; we are all unique to God. But I can say that every time I suffer some big injustice, God is the One to solve the problem. It may take a while, but His ways of helping me with my anger are much better. I could tell a few real stories in my life of victory without direct conflict. All I can say is that God is good, and He is good all the time!

  9. I'll be honest, some of these prayers make me uncomfortable. But then I think about the fairly privileged life I've had where true threats of violence are very distant. I really haven't had an experience that causes me to cry out to God for justice in this way.

    We should pray for the salvation of others. But when we are more concerned about the perpetrators than the victims, something is wrong. There have been abuse situations in our midst and sometimes we feel more sorry for the abuser than the victim, especially if the person has a high profile. There's something wrong with that.

    Extreme example - but we don't pray for Satan's salvation. We know he's past the point of no return. No human is comparable to him and we can't really know people's hearts, but I think there are people that are so evil that they cannot be touched by God's grace anymore. A call for judgment is much more appropriate than prayers in these cases. Now we need to be careful because we really don't know who still is responding to God even slightly. But we should be realistic too - by their fruits you will know them.

  10. The vengeance is The Lord's.I always pray that God changes hearts of my enemies so that they no longer see the bad side of me that makes them gate me but rather find too many goodness in me that will make them be convinced to "love " me.Prayer is the key.


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