Vengeance is Mine

“Because the Lord revealed their plot to me, I knew it, for at that time he showed me what they were doing. I had been like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter; I did not realize that they had plotted against me, saying,

`Let us destroy the tree and its fruit; let us cut him off from the land of the living,

That his name be remembered no more.’

But you, Lord Almighty, who judge righteously and test the heart and mind,

Let me see your vengeance on them, for to you I have committed my cause.

“Therefore this is what the Lord says about the people of Anathoth who are threatening to kill you, saying, `Do not prophecy in the name of the Lord or you will die by our hands’—therefore this is what the Lord Almighty says: `I will punish them. Their young men will die by the sword, their sons and daughters by famine. Not even a remnant will be left to them, because I will bring disaster on the people of Anathoth in the year of their punishment.’” (Jeremiah 11: 18 – 23 NIV)

The above scripture is the account of God’s reaction to the threat against Jeremiah from his hometown folk. It may seem contradictory that in one article I label “It is all about love;” and the very next day I write an article “Vengeance is Mine.” Are we talking about the same God? How can it be that God would provide salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ; provide the Holy Spirit to empower and guide the growing Church; and then produce vengeance in regard to specific situations in the world?

Before I attempt to answer those questions let me quote another prophetic scripture from Daniel that describes another very specific situation of love mixed with vengeance:

“As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the word and understand the vision:

“`Seventy `sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish [Or restrain] transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place [Or the most Holy One].

“Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One [Or an anointed one], the ruler, comes, there will be seven `sevens,’ and sixty-two `sevens.’ I will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two `sevens,’ the Anointed One [Or an anointed one] will be put to death and will have nothing [Or death, and will have no one; or death, but not for himself]. The people of the ruler who have come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolation have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one `seven.’ [Or `week’] In the middle of the `seven’ [Or `week’] he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple [Or wing] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him [Or it]. [Or And one who causes desolation will come upon the wing of the abominable temple, until the end that is decreed is poured out on the desolated city] (Daniel 9: 23 – 27 NIV)

The quotation from Daniel has some alternative translations noted in the footnotes of the NIV. I have included these in brackets for the consideration of the reader. Some of the alternative readings you will see support my argument regarding the fulfillment of this prophecy and some do not. I will state my interpretation of the fulfillment of this prophecy and leave it in the reader’s judgment to do what the scripture says, “Therefore, consider the word and understand the vision.”

In very brief form my interpretation of the fulfillment of this prophecy in Daniel:

Israel was taken into exile by Nebuchadnezzar during the time of Jeremiah. Jeremiah was threatened because the word of the Lord that came to him was to call Judah and Jerusalem to repentance so that the destruction of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple would not take place. Three times Nebuchadnezzar came to Jerusalem, besieged it, and took the city. The first two times the treasuries of the temple and the royal treasuries were taken to Babylon and placed in storage there. The third time the rebellion of the kings of Judah was so severe that Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the city and the temple. All during this time Jeremiah was urging the officials and the people of Judah and Jerusalem to yield to the Babylonians and to Nebuchadnezzar because this punishment was sent by God to bring them to repentance. In his prophecy of the exile Jeremiah had been very specific in declaring that the exile would last 70 years. This prophecy was what Daniel was responding to in his prayer recorded in chapter 9.

The word and vision given to Daniel recorded in the later part of chapter 9 was God’s answer to Daniel who was trying to understand the sweep of history and God’s part in history. The call in verse 24 was a continued call to repentance. Jesus appeared at the end of the 70 weeks (490 years) and concluded the call to repentance. John the Baptist and Jesus both based their ministry on the call to repentance with the words, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is near.” At the beginning of the last “week” Jesus was baptized by John and began His 3 ½ year ministry culminating with His death on the cross and His resurrection. Jesus’ death was the fulfillment of all of the Mosaic Law as He was sacrificed as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” At the moment of His death the temple curtain was torn from top to bottom signifying the end of the sacrificial system. The Jews were still being called to repentance during the beginning of the Church that started in Jerusalem and remained centered there until the martyrdom of Stephen. Stephen’s sermon before the Sanhedrin was the final call to repentance of the Jewish nation that had begun at the decree to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem 490 years earlier. After that period of mercy was completed with no positive response from the Jews; the rest of the description of Daniel 9: 27 was fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. There is no other “he” referenced from 9: 24 through 9: 27 except the Anointed One. We can see in the first part of the passage the Anointed One refers to the Messiah or the Christ. In the last reference to “he” we would like to think that this cannot be the Anointed One. It must refer to some other person. However, the time for the repentance of the Jews has come and gone. God has sent the Anointed One to complete that call to repentance. The Jewish leaders rejected Him and killed Him. Now, in the last sentence of the prophecy we see the fulfillment of the decree for the city poured out by the glorified Son of God. Jesus is the “he” who “will set up an abomination that causes desolation.” It is the glorified Christ who orchestrates the vengeance against the city. It is sad. It is the culmination of 490 years of call to repentance. But the end result is the spread of the gospel of love to all the nations.

This is why on one day I can say, “It is all about Love,” and on the very next day say, “Vengeance is Mine.” I am saddened by the senseless violence in the world today with much of it centered within the Muslim community. But I can also understand that a time will come for vengeance as well as a time for love.