As a #boymom, I’m excited to be diving into what it means that El Nathan Neqamah, is God our Avenger, for this week’s edition of Word Nerd Wednesday.
El Nathan Neqamah
avengement, whether the act or the passion: avenge, revenger, vengeance
Merriam-Webster defines the verb Avenge: to inflict harm in return for an injury or wrong done either against oneself or on behalf of another.
Who doesn’t love a good superhero movie? My boys don’t even have to beg me to take them to the theater when a Marvel movie is playing. And while I’m partial to Captain Marvel’s strong female lead, I always get a thrill when the good guys win, when justice is served, when wrongs are avenged. And that is why I’ve been so excited to ponder the idea of God our Avenger.
Cities of Refuge
Old Testament law allowed for a close family member of someone who had been murdered to avenge their death by killing the murderer. But God established six cities of refuge where fair trials could be held to determine those guilty of manslaughter or accidental killing. Those determined to have perpetrated accidental killing could flee for safety and protection from these avengers. In order to be kept under protection, they were required to remain in these cities of refuge until the high priest died, at which time the avenger’s right to kill them expired.
God Our Avenger
Because there is no shortage of wickedness in our world today we all long for good to prevail. We cheer when we catch a glimpse of righteousness. But when wickedness seems to prevail we tend to wonder why our Almighty God doesn’t do something. We question why a good God would let bad things happen to good people and why an all-powerful God doesn’t do more to put an end to evil.
“He is the God who avenges me, who subdues nations under me.”Psalm 18:47 NIV
“He is the God who pays back those who harm me…”2 Samuel 22:48 NLT
“O God of vengeance, let your glorious justice shine forth.”Psalm 94:1
God Avenges Himself First
Because God is just, He must avenge all wrong (sin) committed against Him. As hard as it is to hear, God avenged the wrongs we have committed against Him by punishing His Son on the cross. That act of vengeance against sin is what God used to pave the way for our salvation, what makes it possible for us to have a restored relationship with Him for all eternity. We can run to God as our refuge when we’ve sinned against Him. Then, because our High Priest Jesus has died, we can live in the freedom that comes from knowing He will avenge all wrongs committed against us.
In Ezekiel 25:14-17, we see God exacting His vengeance against the Edomites and the Philistines for their treatment of Israel. But what I find most interesting is that He used this act of vengeance to make His name known among all people. Because this is His will: that all would come to a saving knowledge of Him. We can either receive God’s gift of protection by hiding ourselves in Jesus or elect to remain under His vengeance.
When we don’t trust God’s role as our Avenger or His will for all people, we tend to take matters into our own hands and demand justice for ourselves, just like those Old Testament avengers.
I’ve been guilty of this a time or two (or more) when someone has offended me, but I’m also certain I have offended others when I didn’t intend to. And I’ve been thankful they have given me the benefit of the doubt instead of escalating the situation. I’m thankful God our Avenger gives us a safe place of refuge to hide under His wings when we have committed wrongs against Him or others.
Human vengeance only leads to escalation, but God’s vengeance leads to justice.
However, God doesn’t always execute justice the way we think He should or the way we expect Him to or even according to our preferred timeline. I’d guess many of those Old Testament avengers didn’t feel like forgiving just because the High Priest had died. But we must remember God’s apparent slowness to act is the expression of His infinite wisdom and mercy. The same mercy He has shown us who trust in Him for the forgiveness of our own sins. The death of our High Priest avenged the sins of all mankind.
As much of an anomaly as it seems, God our Avenger, through His Son Jesus, said we’d be known by our love, but not just our love for those who love us, but our love for those who despise us, too.
When we trust God as our Avenger we will:
*Forgive instead of fighting.
*Reach out instead of retaliating.
*Help instead of hurting.
*Pray instead of paying back.
*Love instead of lashing out.
*Turn the other cheek instead of taking offense.
Don’t Rob God of His Right to Judge
It won’t be easy, but this is what the power of the Holy Spirit equips and enables us to do. Acting on our own to defend ourselves robs God of His right to judge. Because He is the only one qualified to judge humanity rightly, we abdicate our “right” to avenge ourselves. Remember, Jesus died for all sins. His crucifixion covers the sin of all those who will believe in Him for their eternal salvation. God is patient, not wanting any to perish apart from Him.
Exercise Restraint in Retaliation
Sometimes the very thing that will lead unbelievers to repent is experiencing forgiveness from another human, that might just be exactly what they need to realize they can be forgiven by God, too. Exercising restraint in retaliation leaves room for God our Avenger to exact eternal justice. The kindness we show our enemies (or even those close to us who offend us) may just be what God uses to teach them about who He really is.
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.”Romans 12:19
When religious authorities and Roman soldiers, falsely accused, beat, tortured, and crucified Christ, He did not avenge Himself, though as God, He was fully capable of doing so. Instead, He asked Our Father to forgive those who wronged Him. For this reason, when we suffer wrongly at the hands of others, we count it joy to share in Christ’s suffering and pray God would use even that to make us more like His Son. Because that is His will for us all.
Live like God is your Avenger
Rarely do we go into an Avengers movie feeling downtrodden or fearing the outcome. We go in expecting victory. Even when what our eyes see on the screen looks like defeat, we have a hard time believing it. Somehow we instinctively know the superheroes win, even if we have to wait for the next movie to come out.
May it be so with our lives. May we all trust God our Avenger will win in the end, no matter what our eyes see here on earth or how long we have to wait for victory.What does it mean to you that God is our Avenger? #wordnerdwednesday #ElNathan #Avenger #namesofgod Click To Tweet