#534 – Vengeance Belongs to God (Numbers 31:1) - Radical

#534 – Vengeance Belongs to God (Numbers 31:1)

“Yahweh spoke to Moses saying, ‘Seek vengeance for the Israelites on the Midianites. Afterward, you will be gathered to your people.'”
(Numbers 31:1)

The picture I want us to see here, and there’s a lot we can talk about that’s going on in this part of Numbers, but when we see vengeance here, what is most important to realize is that it is driven by and ultimately accomplished by, it belongs to God. Vengeance belongs to the Lord. This is what Romans 12:19 says explicitly, that God is the ultimate judge, and that God will bring ultimate vindication, that God will bring ultimate justice, that evil will not go unpunished. There’s a sense in which we see this at different points in the bible, and it’s a much, much bigger discussion, where God for example in Romans 13, right after Romans 12, gives government, authority to execute justice, to carry out justice, to protect and promote the good of people. So there are institutions even set up by God to show His justice in the world.

We look to God as the ultimate Judge who will never let us down and will ultimately bring about justice.

But ultimately, the point is all of justice, vengeance, punishment belongs to God. And this is huge as we think about our own lives because we can easily be overcome with feelings of vengeance, wanting a desire for revenge when we are wrong. We can think, “Okay, what do I need to do to make that right? How do I get back at that person?” Get back at this or that thing, whatever it is. But this is where we need to realize, “Wait a minute. This belongs to the Lord, and He will make all things right, and He will bring about judgment on all who deserve it.”

So we need to trust in Him. Now, where God has given authorities to carry out his justice, then we work within the realm of those authorities. So if someone has physically wronged you and broken the law against you, then we should absolutely report this to an authority and let the justice of God play out through that authority. But even in that, to continually keep looking to God as the ultimate judge, as the ultimate one to whom vengeance belongs, and put your trust in him because even governments will let us down. Human institutions will let us down, but God will never let us down, and God will mark it down, bank your life on this, God will ultimately bring about justice in the end, of that we can be sure.

When we are surrounded by injustice, when we feel injustice, not just in the world, but in our own lives, we can know that justice will one day be served. So God, we put all our trust in you. We pray for wisdom in our lives in this world to trust in you, to do justice. God, we pray that you would give us wisdom to know when to act in certain ways, how to work against injustice, how to look to authorities in this world for justice, how to strengthen or even carry out leadership as authorities in this world for justice. God, give us wisdom to do that. Help us to keep our eyes and all of this focused on you, we pray. God, we put all our trust in you in a world where there’s so much injustice around us. God, we pray that you would show full and final justice, but even as we pray that, we praise you, Jesus, because we know, as sinners, and asking for justice, we are asking for that which would destroy us were it not for your grace and your mercy in the cross. So Jesus, we praise you for taking the just judgment we were due upon yourself and our sin, and delivering us from the justice we deserve, covering us with mercy and grace we never could have deserved. All glory be to your name. Not only for your justice, but for your mercy. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

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David Platt serves as pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.

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