The Vengeful God

God is jealous, and Jehovah revenges; Jehovah revenges and is a possessor of wrath. Jehovah takes vengeance against His foes, and He keeps wrath against His enemies. -Nahum 1:2

     It is always interesting when we compare the God of the bible to the god professed by most of Christendom. In most Christian churches across the world, God is shown to be only a God of love, mercy, grace, and peace. This is emphasized so much that for someone to even hint at a possibility of God having wrath, anger, jealously, and vengeance is to be marginalized and ridiculed among many of the churches today. To mention these attributes of God brings stigma to those of us who seek to follow and worship God in all His perfect attributes. To blatantly ignore certain attributes of God is in effect creating your own god within your mind who is more acceptable than the God revealed through the Scriptures. It is my belief that when people and churches diminish God’s attributes such as his wrath, anger, vengeance, and hate, it will lead them into doctrinal error. This is very noticeable in the doctrines of election and reprobation, where many years of denying certain attributes of God has resulted in churches which emphasis a universal love of God and free will within man directly contradictory to scripture. While ultimately this denial of some of God’s attributes is due to most of these individuals and churches being unregenerate it is still important for us to examine the scriptures that speak to these often overlooked and forgotten aspects of God’s nature. If we truly want to follow and worship God then we need to not ignore part of who He is and in effect create a God of our own imagination.

     When most people think of God as vengeful they shrink away from the concept. The vengeance of God is important in understanding his Justice and it is closely tied to God's Wrath. God's Vengeance towards the reprobate should also be contrasted with His forgiveness and Mercy towards the elect. Romans 12:19 is probably the most well known passage that touches on this subject saying, “not avenging yourselves, beloved, but giving place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord." In the context of the passage Paul is exhorting believers to not have vengeance towards their enemies but to do good things towards them. It is essential to understand something here. While believers should never seek vengeance towards anyone, God is not likewise constrained. In fact, Paul quotes from Deuteronomy 32:35 to show that God is solely responsible for all vengeance for all the elect. It is this vengeance which leads to His Justice and right punishment of sin. To ignore the vengeance of God is to ultimately ignore His justice. One of the reasons why this attribute of God is mainly ignored is because as people begin to understand the vengeance and Justice of God it leads to a biblical perspective on reprobation and election. The vengeance of God is directed only towards the reprobate for their sins against God, the elect are never under God’s wrath and never need to worry about His vengeance. The reprobate person has transgressed against God directly and deliberately and is deserving of God’s revenge against them. In contrast to this the elect of God are forgiven in Christ, who took the vengeance of God on the cross, on their behalf. Throughout scripture God’s vengeance is seen as something for the elect to look forward towards as all the reprobate are dealt with justly in the sight of God. The five passages below show what the elect’s attitude towards God’s attribute of vengeance should be, rejoice in the vengeance of God!!

O God of vengeance, Jehovah, the God of vengeance, shine forth! (Psalms 94:1)

The righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance; he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked. And man shall say, Truly, there is a reward for the righteous; truly, there is a God judging in the earth. (Psalms 58:10-11) 

and to give rest with us to you who are troubled, at the revealing of the Lord Jesus from Heaven with the angels of His power, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God and who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9) 

I will make My arrows drunk with blood, and My sword shall devour flesh, with the blood of the slain and of the captives, from the hairy scalp of the enemy. Rejoice, O, nations, with His people; for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and will render vengeance to His foes and will be merciful to His land, to His people. And Moses came and spoke all the words of this song in the ears of the people, he and Joshua the son of Nun. (Deuteronomy 32:42-44)

For we know Him who has said, "Vengeance belongs to Me, I will repay, says the Lord." And again, "The Lord shall judge His people." It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:30-31)

     When was the last time you heard a preacher speak about the vengeance of God on the reprobate? Probably never, but scripture speaks of God’s vengeance on the wicked as something the elect should rejoice over and look forward to. The key point here is that it is God’s vengeance and not the elect’s. The elect should never seek their own vengeance in this world but look forward to God enacting His Justice at His coming judgment. Nahum chapter 1 is a beautiful picture of God at His vengeful best.

God is jealous, and Jehovah revenges; Jehovah revenges and is a possessor of wrath. Jehovah takes vengeance against His foes, and He keeps wrath against His enemies. Jehovah is slow to anger, and great in power. And He does not by any means acquit the guilty. Jehovah has His way in the tempest and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet. He rebukes the sea and makes it dry, and dries up all the rivers; Bashan and Carmel wither, and the flower of Lebanon withers. The mountains quake from Him, and the hills melt, and the earth is lifted up from before Him; even the world and all who dwell in it. Who can stand before His fury? And who can stand up in the heat of His anger? His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken down because of Him. Jehovah is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him. But with an overflowing flood He will make an utter end of its place, and darkness shall pursue His enemies. What are you plotting against Jehovah? He will make an utter end; affliction shall not rise up the second time. For as thorns are woven together, and as their drunkards are drunken, they shall be devoured like stubble fully dry. One who devises evil against Jehovah has come forth from you, one counseling worthlessness. So says Jehovah: Though secure and likewise many, yet they shall be cut down, and he shall pass away. And though I have afflicted you, I will afflict you no more. For now I will break his yoke off you, and will burst your bonds apart. And Jehovah has commanded concerning you, Not one of your name shall be sown any more; I will cut off the graven image and the molten image out of the house of your gods. I will make your grave; for you are despised. Behold upon the mountains the feet of Him who brings good news, making it heard, Peace! O Judah, keep your appointed feasts, fulfill your vows; for the wicked shall pass through you no more; he is completely cut off. (Nahum 1:2-15)

     Are you worshiping the God of the bible or a god of your own imagination? Rejoice and worship the vengeful God! Who destroys the wicked and enacts His just punishment. Rejoice all the more in the merciful God who provided a way for the elect to be forgiven in Christ Jesus through His death on the Cross. How Great a salvation!!!

Topics: Pristine Grace Gospel Distinctives
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