The Vengeance and Nonresistance of Deity

In Romans 3:5, the Apostle Paul asked the question: "Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance?" He then answers his question with, "God forbid: for how then shall He judge the world?" In Romans 12:19, Paul quotes God as declaring that "Vengeance is mine, I will repay."

If God would have been nonresistant when Lucifer declared his ambitious intention to "exalt his throne" and "be like the Most High" (Isa 14:12IS), and then marshaled his forces of one-third of the angels of heaven to dethrone God (Rev. 12:4), Satan would be on the throne of heaven today. Heaven and earth, if there would be an earth, would be ruled by Satan and obviously there would be no hell prepared for the devil and his angels. Nor would there be a hell for those who choose to serve the devil rather than serve the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt 25:41). Jesus testified to His disciples that He had witnessed God's resistance to Satan's efforts in Luke 10:18 when He said "I beheld Satan as lightening fall from heaven."

The Old Testament records many instances of God's resistance to evil men and evil forces in the world. In Noah's day, God resisted, with a universal flood of destruction, a world of mankind whose "every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen 6). God resisted, with a fire and brimstone destruction, the vexing wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19). Jude 7 tells us that those wicked men of Sodom and Gomorrah are still suffering God's vengeance of eternal fire.

God is righteous in meting out vengeance Himself or in delegating any other means of vengeance He sees fit to use. He sometimes delegated angels as His agents of justice (2 Kings 19:35). Sometimes He used one ungodly nation to destroy another ungodly nation (Eze 29:18-20). Sometimes He fought His enemies with the use of stars (Josh 5:20), He used individuals as Samuel who hewed wicked Agag to pieces "before the Lord" (1Sam. 15:33). He used David who killed blaspheming Goliath "in the name of the Lord" (I Sam 17:4,5). He gave Elijah, as a "man of God", power to call down fire from heaven to destroy his enemies (2Kings 19:12). Many times God used His chosen people Israel to be His armies (Num 1:1924), to destroy ungodly nations when their iniquity was fully ripe for judgement (Gen 16,17; Ex 7:4).

But was God ever nonresistant? The answer to that question is "yes". God was nonresistant when He saw the sore travail and deep agony of soul on the part of His beloved Son and allowed Him to be delivered up to the very cruelest form of death for us all. He was nonresistant when He heard them falsely accuse His Son, when they apprehended Him, as a criminal, when they spit on His face, when they slapped Him open-handed and hit Him over the head with a reed, when they laid the stripes to His back, mocked Him with a crown of thorns, and clothed Him with morally-corrupt-sin-symbolizing scarlet (Matt 27:28, Isa 1:18). He saw when the soldiers disrobed Him and claimed His clothing for their own. He saw them nail Him to the cross, making Him look like the worst of criminals and the very wreckage of the devil, and then shamefully hang Him up to the shameful gaze of the multitudes. In that awful bout of utmost shame and cruelty against His only begotten Son of ultimate perfection, God, instead of resisting and destroying those wicked men and evil powers, looked upon them with a nonresistant, compassionate response, offering forgiveness through the sinless blood of His dear Son which their wicked hands were responsible for shedding.

Yes, God was very nonresistant in that hour! It was the hour of "the kindness and love of God... which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior" (Tit 3:4-6). "[Nonresistance] there was great and grace was free, Pardon there was multiplied [for them and] to me." Actually, the provided redemption of the world hinged on the nonresistance of both God the Father and His Son our Savior. If God had not been nonresistant in that hour there would have no redemption been wrought for mankind. "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself' (I Cor 5:19).

Now, for another question: Is our loving, nonresistant Lord Jesus also a Christ of wrath, of judgement, and of vengeance? And the answer to that question is "yes". The Bible is quite clear that after mankind has had opportunity to accept His universally provided grace and salvation, the day of His vengeance will come. In our Lord's interpretation of His parable of the wheat and tares Jesus declared: "As therefore the tares [which were left to grow with the wheat until harvest time] are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world" (End of this age- Strong's). "The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend and them which do iniquity and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth" (Matt 13:3743).

In the Book of Revelation we are told of some God-planned activities "which must be hereafter" (Rev 1:19; 4:1). In chapter five there appears a seven-sealed book of "must be hereafter "judgements to be poured out on the earth - and of course on the people of the earth. Only Jesus Christ, on the basis of His once nonresistant life and death (Rev 5:5,6) was found qualified to open the sealed book and administer the judgements contained therein. In chapter 6, as He opens the "must be hereafter" seals, He is seen by His enemies, not as the one-time apparently helpless, nonresistant Lamb of God being slain, but rather as a Lamb whose great day of wrath is come before whom no man on earth "shall be able to stand"- no kings, no great men, no rich men, no chief captains or mighty men - like Herod the king, Pilate the governor, the Pharisees, the Sanhedrin, the mighty Roman soldiers, etc. (Rev 6:15-17).

The characteristic activities of Christ in Chapters 6-20 of Revelation, clearly indicate a "must be hereafter" period of vengeance on the earth quite different and unlike the present era of nonresistance.

In chapter 11, "my two witnesses" rather than being nonresistant, as we are commanded to be today, will resist and destroy with fire those who seek to hurt them and will smite the earth with plagues until their ministry (a witness accompanied with vengeance) on earth is finished.

In chapter 14, among "the things which must be hereafter," angels will fly through the midst of heaven preaching the everlasting gospel and warning "every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people" that dwell on the earth of the judgement to come. (Rev 14:6-11). Today this ministry is committed to the church- not to angels (2Cor 5:18-20). God did send an angel to seeking Cornelius, not to share the gospel with him but to tell him where he could find a representative of the church who would tell him what he must do to be saved.

During this nonresistant church age until the church is caught up to meet the Lord in the air, we are to follow our Lord's first coming example, "Who when he was reviled, reviled not again, when he steered he threatened not" (1Pet 2:21-23). In keeping with His new "But I say unto you" message of nonresistance in Matthew 5:38-48, He righteously endured insults and smites without smiting back. But in one of the "must be hereafter" scenes portrayed in chapter 19:11-21, the once meekly smitten Lamb of God is seen in righteousness judging and making war against His enemies. His once meek and lowly followers (identified as the wife of the Lamb in vv. 7-9,14), are now with Him clothed in fine linen, white and clean. Their identity would suggest that as the bride of Christ they are those who followed Him in His first coming example of humiliation and nonresistance. But now they are said to be "the armies of heaven" sharing in the Lamb's vengeance as He "treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God"

The two ringleaders in the worldwide wickedness and opposition to Christ, first mentioned in Revelation t3 as two personalities of the "must be hereafter" era and characterized as "the beast" and "the false prophet," are first captured and "cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone." The armies of these demonic characters are then met with defeat and complete destruction by the "King of Kings and Lord of Lords" who was once the meek and nonresistant Lamb allowing Himself to be slain.

Revelation 20:8,9 portrays God's final acts of vengeance on earth against His opposers. After what the Bible designates as a 1000 year reign of Christ with His saints, the last rebellion and war against God "on the breadth of the earth" will be met by fire coming down from God out of heaven and devouring Satan's troops. "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire to be tormented for ever and ever."

The last judgement and sentence to the lake of fire for those whose names are not found in the book of life, coming from the great white throne, (Rev 20:11-15), will likely be administered by the once-nonresistant Lamb of God. In John 5:22, Jesus declared that the Father "hath committed all judgement to the Son." Romans 2:16 tells us that God will some day judge the secrets of men by Christ Jesus (a probable reference to the secrets recorded in the books that will be opened in Revelation 20:12). Paul declared that God hath ordained Jesus Christ to be the righteous Judge of the world (Acts 17:31).

According to Rev. 19:11-21, judging and making war against His enemies will be the righteous right of Jesus Christ when "the great day of His wrath is come." It will also be the "must be hereafter" righteous right of the saints who will be clothed in fine linen, clean and white, to be His armies to participate in, and rejoice in our Lord's complete triumph in one of the last and greatest conquests of the ages.

At His first coming, Jesus, in fulfillment of the "sure word of prophecy," provided for and proclaimed "the acceptable year of the Lord" (Isa 61:2a; Luke 4:19). Today it is our privilege and duty to do the same in the same spirit in which Jesus did. When again, in fulfillment of prophecy, He proclaims "the day of vengeance of our God"(Isa 61:2b; Rev 19:11-21), saints will have the privilege of sharing in the same vengeance - but not until then. For now, we must be "as sheep in the midst of wolves" and endeavor to be "wise as serpents, and harmless as doves".

--Aaron M Shank