Beliefnet
Mark D. Roberts

Learning from God’s Vengeance, Part 2

READ Isaiah 34:1-17

For it is the day of the LORD’s revenge,
the year when Edom will be paid back for all it did to Israel.

Isaiah 34:8

I want to spend another day reflecting upon Isaiah 34. This chapter can be troubling because it seems to celebrate God’s vengeance. God seems to relish the thought of judging the nations. How is this picture of God consistent with the God revealed to us in Jesus, a God of love, mercy, and forgiveness? What in the world are we to take away from Isaiah 34?
For one thing, the vision of God’s judgment of the nation reminds us of God’s justice. He doesn’t just wink at sin as if it were no big deal. He doesn’t ignore our sin or excuse us because of familial and social influences. Sin matters profoundly to God. He hates it. He judges it. He condemns it. We might remember that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).
But that’s not the whole story. Romans 6:23 reads more completely: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Yet this gift, free for us, was extremely costly to God. It cost the sacrifice of Jesus. God himself, through the Son, took God’s own vengeance and judgment. He suffered the wages of sin—death—so that we might not have to. Thus, the picture of God’s vengeance not only reminds us how much God hates sin, but also how much God loves us.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Are you ever inclined to minimize your sin? When? Why? Do you ever minimize God’s love for you? When? Why? How can you hold together God’s justice and his love, his vengeance and his mercy?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, the more I consider just how much you hate sin, including my sin, the more I am amazed by the lavishness of your love and grace. It cost you greatly to do that which was necessary to forgive me. You did this out of love. What a wonder!
May I live each day remembering how much you care about right and wrong. May I never forget that you are a God of justice, a God who condemns sin. Yet may I also live each day remembering how much you love me. May I live in the joyful freedom of your forgiveness, not so that I might sin more, but so that I might give myself to you in a life of consistent worship and gratitude. Amen.

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