Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament, Part 96

“Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. ‘But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.’ ” Rom. 12:19-20

The apostle Paul, as he worked on the issue of how to respond to evil (Rom. 12:17-21), particularly that which may have been perpetrated upon a believer, laid out a practical guide from scriptural principles and concepts of how to effectively “overcome evil with good.” (Rom. 12:21)

In God’s “action plan” of accomplishing that goal,  he is moved to quote two Old Testament passages that offer lessons for the beloved of God. The first quote is from the song of Moses as recorded in Deuteronomy 32:35, “Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, in due time their foot will slip; for the day of their calamity is near, and the impending things are hastening upon them.” (NAS) In the context of chapter 32 of Deuteronomy, God has through Moses pointed to the future of both the nation of Israel and their enemies. In it, Moses speaks of God’s future judgment to come upon an apostate nation of Israel by means of Gentile nations because they would grow fat, become forgetful and forsake their Deliverer (Deut 32 :15-26). This is the cycle of the nation Israel as recorded in the Bible from Judges to Jesus. Ultimately the LORD would bring His wrath down upon those whom He had used (the nations) to discipline His people because they did not repent themselves and understand that it was the true God that gave the physical nation of Israel into their hands because of His anger at their actions. (Deut. 32:28-33) The record is there for all to view, that God always executes His judgment in His time. God’s example of patience towards those who have wronged Him is designed to instill that characteristic into us. Are we not to count the Lord’s patience as salvation? The faithful is to understand that in God’s judgment of their enemies is their vindication. “For the LORD will vindicate His people, and will have compassion on His servants” (Deut 32:36; c. f. 2 Thes. 1:5-10) Vengeance is God’s to dole out, not ours. He is omniscient, we are not. Because of that, we shouldn’t worry either about who’s going to “make it right!” God will, He said so. Our role, brethren, in executing God’s will in this arena is goodwill. That brings us to our second quote cited by the apostle Paul from Proverbs 25:21, 22: “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.” You’ve heard the expression, “Kill them with kindness.” You want an unequaled opportunity of killing an enemy and making him a friend? It’s predicated not upon a random act of kindness, but a purposeful act with a desired end-peace. This is the context of the preceding verse of our text above. “If possible, so far as it depends upon you, be at peace with all men.” See, it depends upon you on how peace will be accomplished. It’s possible if you’re interested in turning that evil perpetrator away from God’s wrath by demonstrating goodwill. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matt. 5:9) “…love your enemies, do good to those that hate you” (Luke 6:27). But you know what? When Jesus said these things it wasn’t like someone in Israel had never acted this way before. Consider the lesson of Elisha and the Aramean (Syrian) king’s army as recorded in 2 Kings 6:8-23. They came down to Elisha’s house at Dothan, surrounded him, intending to harm him because the king’s plans of war were being continually foiled because of him. Once Elisha had the Lord open the eyes of his servant to see that the Arameans were surrounded by God’s heavenly army and they had nothing to fear, he then asked the Lord to blind the king’s army for the purpose of leading them into the capital city of Samaria. When the Arameans eyes were opened before the king of Israel, the king of Israel then asked permission to kill them. What was Elisha’s response? No killing today, boys. Instead you’ll be fixin’ them a great feast so they can eat and drink, then sending them back home to their master. What was the end result of Elisha’s actions? “And the marauding bands of Arameans did not come into the land of Israel.” A little kindness from God (through Elisha) led them to repentance. Sound familiar? Check out Romans 2:4. Amen


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