boy with black eye June 21 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): 2Kings 9; 2Chronicles 22:7-9; 2Kings 10:1-27

Avenging Wrongs

A child may get into a fight with a bully and come out the loser. He has a black eye, and in the scuffle his lunch is ruined. He may want revenge. When he goes home his parent or parents are upset, and they want to avenge the wrong. When we avenge wrongs, we try to hurt people who have treated us or others unjustly. We may try to take revenge physically or by other means. Taking revenge ourselves, however, can make us just as bad as the offender and just as liable. We may even get arrested. Somehow the excuse that we are just avenging a wrong is supposed to justify our behavior. We need to appeal to higher powers to seek justice (in civil cases that may mean our local governing officials, see Romans 13:1-4). In his letter to the Romans, Paul instructs us,

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord (Romans 12:17-19 NIV).

Well, what about God—doesn't this verse say He takes vengeance upon His enemies? Yes, He does, but it is not revenge; it has no part with malice or bitterness; it is justice for some wrong or oppression. We are not perfect like God. The LORD is merciful, gracious and longsuffering, giving people time to repent before taking action. However, He is also a God of justice, righteousness and holiness; and when His enemies will not repent, He avenges Himself upon them. As we learned in yesterday's Bible study, God especially takes offense with those who do not respect His servants.

From today's Bible reading we learn about Queen Jezebel. She is the wife of King Ahab, a wicked woman, and a worshipper of Baal. She has murdered many prophets of the LORD. God is going to take vengeance upon her and Ahab for killing His prophets and for killing and taking possession of Naboth and his vineyard. The LORD gave this vineyard as an inheritance to Naboth's family when Israel entered the land in Joshua's day. It belonged to Naboth. Naboth was framed and killed because he said King Ahab could not have it and would not sell it. This was a wrongful death. Yet when King Ahab receives the message of judgment from Elijah, the prophet of the LORD, he repents.

When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly. Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite: “Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son.” (1Kings 21:27-29, NIV)

God is merciful to him and gives him a postponement of his punishment. What the LORD did with Israel, He often does with those who are ungodly; His mercy, longsuffering and grace give people some time to repent, but unless they repent they will likewise suffer for it (Obadiah 1:15; Luke 13:3; more...).

The time for revenge has come. Ahab’s sons follow his wicked ways and do not repent.

“This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anoint you [Jehu] king over the LORD's people Israel. You are to destroy the house of Ahab your master, and I will avenge the blood of my servants the prophets and the blood of all the LORD's servants shed by Jezebel. The whole house of Ahab will perish. I will cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel-- slave or free. I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah. As for Jezebel, dogs will devour her on the plot of ground at Jezreel, and no one will bury her.’ Then he [the messenger sent by Elisha] opened the door and ran” (2Kings 9:6-10, NIV).

God chose Jehu to carry out justice, and this is just what he does. Jehu kills King Joram, Ahab’s son, and then kills King Ahaziah of Judah for allying himself with Joram. Then Jehu proceeds to kill Jezebel and all of Ahab’s descendants and even those who work with him. All this is in accordance with the Word of the LORD to Elijah the prophet (2Kings 10:17 and 1Kings 21:19-24). After that, through cunning trickery, Jehu kills all the prophets of Baal at a sacrifice to “honor” their false god. The temple of Baal is torn down and used as a latrine.

Have we, the people of God by faith in Jesus Christ, suffered injustice, injury and loss? God repays those who have injured us if they do not repent. However, Jesus Christ instructs us to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44, NV). The Apostle Peter instructs us to “commit yourselves to your faithful Creator and continue to do good works” (1 Peter 4:19, NIV).

Lessons to Live By

  • God takes offense with those who do not respect His servants.
  • We need to give place to God’s wrath and not avenge ourselves.
  • What God did with Israel, He often does with those who are ungodly; His mercy, longsuffering and grace give people some time to repent, but unless they repent, they will likewise suffer for it (more...) .
  • We need to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.
  • We need to persevere under trials until God delivers.
  • We should pray to the LORD when we are unjustly treated.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV)

Focus Verse

Romans 12:19 (NIV) “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”

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A Look Ahead: If we make a commitment to the LORD, how do we Make it Stick?

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