Vengeance and closely related words:
Vengeance is a noun and is closely related to the following words: Retribution, Revenge and Avenge. However, revenge is a warped form of vengeance, in that the person wronged takes matters into their own hands and decides the punishment that is to be meted out, and then goes about trying to inflict the punishment by himself, rather than to let an unbiased justice system take its course. The word avenge brings in a third party into the equation. Depending on the nature of the third party, the actions of the person avenging can either tend to be revenge (where the person is biased towards the offended person) or retribution (where the person is carrying out their actions in an unbiased way.)
Definitions of Vengeance:
- Punishment inflicted or retribution exacted for an injury or a wrong;
- Infliction of injury, harm, humiliation, or the like, on a person by a justice system on behalf of another who has been harmed by that person;
- Infliction of punishment in return for a wrong committed; retribution.
ekdikesis (Greek, noun)
This word’s literal meaning is: That which proceeds out of justice. The word is most frequently used in respect to divine vengeance. The judgments of God are holy and right. The Lord is free from any element of self gratification or vindictiveness when He executes His judgments.
7 And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.
7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
Today, many are under the impression that the Lord has dropped his standards for holiness and righteousness. But the truth is that the Lord is very patient and long suffering and not willing that any perish, but rather that they come to repentance. However, one day each person will have to account for their lifestyle.
7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
Revenge in the Old Testament:
In Genesis 34, there is an account of how Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah, went to see the daughters of the land and she was raped. Shechem, the young man that perpetrated the offense wanted to marry Dinah and spoke to his father, Hamor. Dinah’s brothers, Simeon and Levi then dealt deceitfully when them and told them that they would only inter marry with them if all the males among them were circumcised.
Upon hearing this, Hamor met with all the men of the city and convinced them to be circumcised. However, three days later, Simeon and Levi went into the city and slew all the men there and took all the little ones, the women, animals and wealth of the city for themselves. Dinah was then taken from Shechem’s house.
Jacob was not very pleased with the way that the situation was handled.
30 And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the in inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.
31 And they said, Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot?
Revenge is never the right way to settle a matter. When there is an offense, it is not wise to react out of rage and take matters into your own hands. At the end of Jacob’s life, this is what he declared over the two brothers:
5 Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations.
6 O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall.
7 Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.
Avenge in the Old Testament:
naqam (Hebrew, verb)
The meaning of this word is to avenge, take vengeance, punish. The Lord reserves vengeance as the sphere of His own actions.
35 To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.
36 For the Lord shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left.
When someone is attacked, simply because the person is God’s servant, the person can rightly call on the Lord to be avenged of his or her enemies. Such a scenario is seen with Samson. He was born of a woman that was previously barren, and special instructions were given unto her concerning the child that she would conceive. He was to be a Nazarite unto God.
In the process of time Samson fell in love with a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. He eventually told her of the covenant that he had with the Lord and she betrayed him. Samson was then blinded and he was bound in the prison and made to grind. Some time later, when all the lords of the Philistines were gathered together and they made a great sacrifice to Dagon their god. In the course of the celebrations, and their victory over Samson, they decided to bring him in to make fun of him. But God used the opportunity to avenge Samson.
28 And Samson called unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, That I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.
29 And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left.
30 And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.
Days of Vengeance:
22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
The days of vengeance are fulfilled in two dimensions:
- Recompense for the downtrodden
- Execution of judgment for the proud and wicked
The first dimension of vengeance is seen in:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashed, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.
In the Gospel of Luke (4:18) the Lord Jesus Christ quoted a portion of this scripture and then boldly proclaimed, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” Hence the first dimension of vengeance is to:
- Bind up the brokenhearted;
- Proclaim liberty to the captives;
- The opening of the prison to them that are bound;
- To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God
- To give beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness
I John 3:8
8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
The second dimension of vengeance deals with recompense for the proud and the wicked:
14 Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of host?
15 And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.
Sometimes it can be frustrating to see those that do wickedly prosper. Those that live all kinds of vile and perverted lifestyles seem to be more prosperous than the righteous. Those puffed up with the pride of life disregard the Lord and even deny His very existence. But, we must understand and remember that the Lord is very patient and would prefer that these persons repent rather than perish. We must warn the proud and the wicked that they must repent in order to escape the day of vengeance of the Lord, though it may seem long in coming, will eventually reach:
For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
2 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.
3 And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts.