See, the Lord is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. Isaiah 26:21

Every day, in our national newspapers, I read of one group or individual seeking and claiming revenge upon another. And, time and again, I read of those who have found this revenge and still claim their hearts and, especially their souls, are empty. In other words, the revenge they seek has not brought them any closer to closing the wound or the pain they feel. Why, then, do we continue seeking revenge upon those we believe have hurt us?

Study after study, we have learned that those who seek revenge on others do so because of what they have lost. The general thinking is that the revenge will some how ease the pain, created by the loss. However, what is experienced tells a far different story.

For example, in the “Complicated psychology of revenge”[1] Eric Jaffe writes, “Behavioral scientists have observed that instead of quenching hostility, revenge can prolong the unpleasantness of the original offense and that merely bringing harm upon an offender is not enough to satisfy a person’s vengeful spirit.” And Jaffe’s findings are not alone. Many psychologists have observed similar findings in their investigation of the process of seeking revenge. But what of the claim, “revenge is sweet?”

Actually, revenge, like cocaine and other mind-altering drugs, have a momentary impact on an area of the brain, called the caudate nucleus. This part of our brain is designed to provide rewards for certain actions, such as drug use and smoking. However, these rewards are fleeting. What, then should we do with the desire we feel for revenge?

Scripture has a good deal to share with us about revenge and much of it may not be what we want to hear. In the Apostolic Scriptures, a.k.a. the New Testament, we read of Rav Sha’ul, the Apostle Paul’s, understanding of who owns revenge. We read in his letter to the Romans, Chapter 1:18 – “What is revealed is God’s anger from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people who in their wickedness keep suppressing the truth.” And, then, in John 3:36, we read of our Master’s Truth, “Whoever trusts in the Son has eternal life. But whoever disobeys the Son will not see that life but remains subject to God’s wrath.” Clearly God and only God has the right to exact revenge on those who harm us. Often, but not often enough, I read of believers who have been wronged, sometimes fatally, and have been deeply touched by the grace and love of Yahveh to forgive those who have caused their pain. They have experienced the deepening of Yahveh’s love, which follows this behavior. This love soothes their pain but does not extinguish the loss. The feelings of loss are somehow tempered into a loving memory, filled with hope. What might happen to our world, if everyone who desired revenge, turned that deep anger over to Yahveh and allowed Him, in His time, to exact His wrath? I can tell you; we would certainly be a better world for it.

One word about forgiveness. Many of us are under the assumption that forgiving others means we must forget about their behavior and that our forgiveness removes their consequences. This is hardly the case. Yahveh does not remove His consequences from those who violate His commands. Hardly!

In Galatians 6:7 we read – “Don’t delude yourselves: no one makes a fool of God! A person reaps what he sows.” And, to add the second witness to this concept of consequences, we read Moses’ words in Numbers 15:30 – “But an individual who does something wrong intentionally, whether a citizen or a foreigner, is blaspheming Adonai. That person will be cut off from his people.” Yes, there are always consequences for our behaviours, and we will face them, at some point in our lives.

Really, forgiveness is more for us than it is for others. This is taught to us in Mark 11:25, when Adonai Yeshua, the Lord Jesus, shares with us, “And when you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive your offenses.” And a final word on this subject, from Rav Sha’ul, as we read in 2 Corinthians 2:10,11 – “Anyone you forgive, I forgive too. For indeed, whatever I have forgiven, if there has been anything to forgive, has been for your sake in the presence of the Messiah so that we will not be taken advantage of by the Adversary — for we are quite aware of his schemes!”

Beloved, I urge you to release to Yahveh, those deep-seated feelings of revenge and pain you feel, when you or others you love have been wronged, in any way. Only through this release will we find peace and tranquility in the midst of the pain of loss.

May the God of Avraham, Isaac and Jacob bless you richly.

[1] Jaffe, Eric, “Complicated psychology of revenge”, Observer, October, 2011.

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