Aug 26th, 2018
Hello and welcome to episode eighty-eight of The Berean Manifesto, brought to you by The Ekklesian House. This is Pastor Bill and over the next ten minutes or so we’re going to step out of the vein we’ve been in the past few weeks and into the vein of episodes fifty-nine, bless those who persecute you, and seventy-four, not repaying evil with evil. With a hint of episode seventy-three thrown in for good measure. This episode is, leaving vengeance to God.
In episode seventy-three we talked about God being love, but being infinitely deeper than we could hope to imagine. This is where we find ourselves at the beginning of this episode in Nahum 1:2-6, it says, “The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is a master of wrath. The Lord takes vengeance against His foes; He is furious with His enemies. The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will never leave the guilty unpunished. His path is in the whirlwind and storm, and clouds are the dust beneath His feet. He rebukes the sea and dries it up, and He makes all the rivers run dry. Bashan and Carmel withers. The mountains quake before Him, and the hills melt; the Earth is laid waste at His presence -- the world and all who live in it. Who can withstand His indignation? Who can endure His burning anger? His wrath is poured out like fire; even rocks are shattered before Him.” All of this is why in Hebrews 10:31 Paul said, “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
However, we find this occurrence in Christ’s life recorded in Luke 9:51-56, “When the days were coming to a close for Him to be taken up, He determined to journey to Jerusalem. He sent messengers ahead of Himself, and on the way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make preparations for Him. But they did not welcome Him, because he determined to journey to Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them as Elijah also did?” But He turned and said, “You don’t know what kind of spirit you belong to. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy people’s lives but to save them,” and they went to another village.”
We also can’t forget the ever popular Matthew 5:39, “don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” Some manuscripts read, “don’t set yourself against an evildoer,” or, “don’t retaliate against an evildoer.” No matter how you phrase it the message is, in essence, the same, and goes hand in hand with our topic. Don’t take vengeance, leave that to God.
So what do you do when you’ve been wronged and you’re waiting on God to punish the evildoer; you’re waiting, and you’re waiting, and nothing ever seems to happen? Well, the issue here is that it’s none of your business. If you’re going through life waiting for other people to get theirs then I would refer you to Matthew 18:21, “Then Peter approached Him and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? As many as seven times?” Jesus replies in verse 22, “I tell you, not as many as seven, but seventy times seven.” I’m sure you can do the math there; seventy times seven is four hundred and ninety. Jesus said we should forgive four hundred and ninety times, right? Not exactly. This is a phrase found somewhere else in the bible as well but translated from the Hebrew into English instead of the Greek into English. Genesis 4:24 says, “If Cain is to be avenged sevenfold, then for Lamech it will be seventy and sevenfold.” In the original language there Jesus isn’t saying three different words. It isn’t seventy multiplied by seven; this isn’t what he said. He said, “seventy times” - that’s one word, and “seven” that’s the second word. This is the mathematical idea of folding. We would say seventy times sevenfold.
If you take a piece of paper and fold it in half that’s one times one fold and you get two equal parts. This is expressed as 2 to the power of 1 equals 2. If you fold the piece of paper in half again we call that one times twofold and you get four equal parts. We would express that as 2 to the power of 2 equals 4. Fold the piece of paper in half again and we would call that one times threefold and we would have eight equal parts. By the time we get to one times sevenfold we would have 128 equal parts. In this case of seventy times sevenfold, we would express this as 70 to the power of 7 and we would come up with a figure that overwhelmingly expresses the idea being taught by Christ here. The number is eight trillion, two hundred thirty-five billion, four hundred and thirty million times that we are to forgive those who do us wrong. Get the picture. If you forgive the same person every second it would take two hundred sixty-one thousand, one hundred and forty-three years for them to run out of chances.
I foresee the thought process that’s going to come up in some of your minds. If we aren’t to take vengeance or retaliate against those who do us wrong then what about the government and military that are made up of human beings? Paul addresses this is Romans 13:1-7, “Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God. So then, the one who resists that authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have its approval. For it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason. For it is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong. Therefore, you must submit, not only because of wrath but also because of your conscience. And for this reason you pay taxes, since the authorities are God’s servants, continually attending to these tasks. Pay your obligations to everyone: taxes to those you owe taxes, tolls to those you owe tolls, respect to those you owe respect, and honor to those you owe honor.”
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”