3 “You will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,” says the LORD of hosts.
There always has been affliction for those who worked hard to draw nearer to God. We can see from the beginning of the bible story that our spiritual enemy is constantly working against us. Even today we look around and see ourselves dipped in situations of hardship and difficulty. Depending on our personality, we want to fight or flee: either reaction of which places no hope in Christ and only ourselves. God has changed all that!
Notice, however, that He said this will happen on the day He is preparing. He tells us that this isn’t to happen right now and that we must be patient and wait. In Deuteronomy 32 we encounter what is known as, “The Song of Moses.” It is a song that Moses gave to the people of Israel just before he died, after reviewing the commandments for the people. In the middle, we see God’s promise and comfort to His afflicted children:
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.’ 36 “For the LORD will vindicate His people, And will have compassion on His servants, When He sees that their strength is gone, And there is none remaining, bond or free. 37 “And He will say, ‘Where are their gods, The rock in which they sought refuge? 38 ‘Who ate the fat of their sacrifices, And drank the wine of their drink offering? Let them rise up and help you, Let them be your hiding place! 39 ‘See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, And there is no one who can deliver from My hand. 40 ‘Indeed, I lift up My hand to heaven, And say, as I live forever, 41 If I sharpen My flashing sword, And My hand takes hold on justice, I will render vengeance on My adversaries, And I will repay those who hate Me.
God promises to vindicate His persecuted people, but we must be patient and wait for Him to do it. The Apostle Paul expounds on this concept in Romans 12 when he writes:
17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 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. 20 “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 ON HIS HEAD.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
We read this passage not too long ago in reference to Malachi 4:1. There is a good reason why it is repeated. We let our humanness get in the way. Not only do we want to respond to persecution like the rest of the world does, but we respond in fear and lack of trust in God to fulfill His promises. When we take matters into our own hands, we are saying, “God, I know what you are saying, but this time, I want to be my own god.” We reject God’s insistence and do it on our own. We neglect to remember that He says what He says for our own good. He gives us commandments not to control us, but to protect us. When we begin to let vengeance guide our thoughts and actions, it destroys us. It opens the door for our spiritual enemy to begin to control us. Then we are no longer in the will or presence of the Lord, we have essentially “gone over to the dark side.”
So how do you view your enemies? Do you view them through the lens of the world or through the lens of Christ? Do you trust in God’s promise to vindicate the afflicted for His name? Jesus closes the beatitudes with a mention of the persecuted:
10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Those who are persecuted for His name’s sake are blessed because they have made a real impact on the world. They are persecuted because of who God has made them to be. It doesn’t say, “Blessed are those who take vengeance into their own hands,” nor does it say, “Blessed are those who fight back against their enemies.” In fact, in the same sermon Jesus tells us to love our enemies. If we stay focused on God and seek first His Kingdom, we will have nothing to worry about. If we cling to His promises of redemption and vindication, we have nothing to worry about. If we would just love, we would have nothing to worry about.