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2012 A.D.:  A Bible Nugget:  Vengeance v.s. Forgiveness

  It is interesting to compare these passages from the Bible.  Two are fom the Book of Genesis, and tell us the attitude of Cain after he had killed Abel, and then the attitude of a much later descendent of Cain, a man who - for reasons we are not told - had to kill a young man for wounding him.  Cain, near the beginning of time, killed his brother Abel, and God saddled him with a harsh penalty for it.  But when Cain conplained that everyone would want to kill him because of what he had done, and because of how God had banished him, God showed Cain a mercy, and he said that who ever tried to avange Abel by killing Cain would suffer vengeance 7 times over.  Here it is from Genesis 4:

Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.”[d] While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”

“I don’t know, ” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

10 The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. 11 Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth. ”

13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. 14 Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”

15 But the Lord said to him, “Not so[e]; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over. ” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. 16 So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod,[f] east of Eden.

  So now, here's a later passage from Genesis, still from the time before the great flood, where this man named Lamech, a descendent of Cain, who killed a young man that was trying to harm him (a young man that had actually wounded him) tells his two wives that if Cain, who was an outright murderer of his own blood brother Abel, and for no good reason, is avenged 7 times if someone tries to kill him, then certainly he Lamech, who was only protecting himself from this young man that had wounded him and had been trying to murder him, should be avenged 77 times.  After all, his 'killing' was more justified, more righteous.  At least it seems that that might have been his line of reasoning.  He had been attacked!  Here it is, also from Genesis 4:

17 Cain made love to his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Cain was then building a city, and he named it after his son Enoch. 18 To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad was the father of Mehujael, and Mehujael was the father of Methushael, and Methushael was the father of Lamech.

19 Lamech married two women, one named Adah and the other Zillah. 20 Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock. 21 His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play stringed instruments and pipes. 22 Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of[g] bronze and iron. Tubal-Cain’s sister was Naamah.

23 Lamech said to his wives,

“Adah and Zillah, listen to me;
    wives of Lamech, hear my words.
I have killed a man for wounding me,
    a young man for injuring me.
24 If Cain is avenged seven times,
    then Lamech seventy-seven times. ”

  But the teachings of Jesus are different....he teaches love, not violence.  He teaches forgiveness, not revenge.  It was probably difficult for the Jews, even those that were His Apostles and disciples, to accept this.  They had been raised up in the Mosaic Covenant, a covenant that was more "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" in nature.  But, Jesus made it plain to them:  they were to forgive those who wronged them.  And keep forgiving them.  Here it is from Matthew 18:

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[a]

  In the one case - the first case of Lamech - the size of the vengeance taken could compound up to 77 times because of the relative righteousness that Lamech felt he posessed.  After all, he had been attacked by a young man.  He was the offended party.  Violence abounding.

  In the second case - the case of the follower of Jesus - the amount of vengeance that the offended party was entitled dwindled to nothing, even though the offense was compounded up to 77 times.  Peace abounding.

  The first way, the way of the sons of Cain, allows for violence to increase nearly without limit, until it fills the land.  The second way, Jesus' way, allows for almost no act of violence to give birth to another one. 

  The first way is a bonanza of opportunities for sin to multiply, and Satan to rule.  The second way causes all events which would engender a violent response to fade from memory, unresponded to, with vengeance left up to the Lord.  Satan has nothing to work with.  His efforts are frusterated.  His claws find no hold.  

  Jesus certainly did an amazing thing when He taught His followers to forgive.  Those violent men who attack them, rather than bracing for the counter-attack, are instead left to consider the damage that they have done, and to see that it was unnecessary.  They can only come, eventually, to see themselves in a bad light.  They have harmed the innocent, and any functional and working conscience will begin to punish a person for doing that. 

  They will, in many instances, feel compelled to accept ways of peace themselves, rather than to heap further guilt and self-loathing upon themselves.  And they may wish to make amends to the party they have injured, and maybe they will ask:  "Who is this Jesus that you follow, anyway?  Tell me about him."  

©2017 Daniel Curry & 'Deeds of God' Website