December 2, 2020
Retaliation vv. 38-42 – Part 1
Revenge is not vengeance. Revenge is vindictive. Vengeance, on the other hand, is retributive justice. Revenge is subjective; vengeance is objective. That’s why the victims of an injustice cannot avenge — only a court of law, or better yet, God himself, can bring vengeance. “Vengeance is mine; I will repay,” says the Lord.” (Ro. 12:19; see also He. 10:30). Only God can right the balance when an injustice has upset the equilibrium of his people. This is why “tit for tat” doesn’t work. The “eye for an eye” principle, by the way, was designed to mitigate the escalation of conflict. If someone took your eye, all you were allowed to do was to take theirs. To take two eyes, or an arm or a leg, was unjust. Only equality of loss would do.
“Vengeance” is part of the legal terminology of the Bible. According to the “Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible” it is “the restoration of wholeness, integrity, to the community, by God or man.” There is, however, a blurring of the lines from time to time in Scripture between vengeance and revenge. But in the main the cries to God for vengeance are “cries for redemption, restoration, health and healing…” Retributive justice in the “final judgment” will be harsh, but it will “right the balance”. Justice ultimately will be done.