I’m Confused …

When he broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of all the people who had been killed on account of the Word of God, for witnessing to it. They shouted in a loud voice, ‘Holy, true Master, how much longer will you wait before you pass sentence and take vengeance for our death on the inhabitants of the earth?’ – Revelation

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” – Matthew


– angels rolling up the heavens, fresco at Gracanica monestary


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4 responses

  1. “Vengeance” in this context presumably means something like “vindication.” And not personal vindication, but divine. Not even a matter of upholding “God’s honor” as in “the honor of the version of God our particular church believes in,” but in an ultimate, universal sense.The issue really comes down to whether there is eventual justice. Is The King of All the World a reality?–and will he uphold justice? When? He didn’t bring Jesus down off the cross. When the Proper Authorities executed all those people under the altar, he didn’t prevent it. On a political level, the world we live in looks to be a world where “Nothing is forbidden,” where Caesar and his buddies can get away with murder–and worse, with lies. Worse, because the power of the unchallenged lie turns murder into “collateral damage”, renders any crime the State commits invisible, virtually destroys the public reality we need to live together and to communicate with one other.Which is more frightening?–a world in which God takes vengeance on “the inhabitants of the earth”? or where those inhabitants lie, steal, kill–forever?As one of the said inhabitants, I just want to say “I didn’t do nuthin’, and you can’t prove it!” Ooops, I mean–This is a lovely world, with lovely people in it, and I would really feel sorry to lose most of them, even the foolish ones–particularly me. You can take those people with the “Rapture” bumper stickers, go ahead!On a serious note, Jesus’ dictum looks to be our best hope for universal harm-reduction. For Jesus to really return and subdue us with the sword of his mouth… Wouldn’t that mean for us all to awaken to the truth of his words? At that point, the whole purpose of what we call “justice” vanishes!For all the horror of our national political performance, I get the impression that a great many people recognize it as a bad dream. Maybe, before it gets too much worse, there won’t be enough people left crazy enough to support it?This is my only way to make sense of it. But I don’t know when, either.

  2. Hi Forrest …Which is more frightening?–a world in which God takes vengeance on “the inhabitants of the earth”? or where those inhabitants lie, steal, kill–forever?I think a God who takes vengence is scary. It’s my hope that when the end-time comes, God will forgive and love every person, good and bad, into spiritual health and eternal life, not that he will reward the good with the torutre of the bad. Jesus says in Revelation, I make all things new … I hope that means the above.

  3. & Hi, Crystal,That’s my understanding, too. Not my hope, but something I wrestled out with God a long time back, half-wondering whether my insistence on this would put me on the “Bad” List.The trouble comes when I try to imagine the redemption of this world, how we can go on with everyone seeming oblivious to all the threats hanging over our heads, beyond anyone’s power to change except by God’s help.The fact that all this continues is evidence that God doesn’t operate by the same rules we do; “death” doesn’t mean to God what it means to us and a few thousand years of watching us tear up the nursery & our playmates doesn’t discourage him; he knows how long it takes for his children to “grow up.”Whoever it was said “I fear for my country when I remember that God is just”… I think that view of God is also valid, a revealed insight. (It makes more sense when you include reincarnation, karma, that aspect of things. If we mess up bad enough, we go into the penalty box awhile. We don’t like it, but it isn’t what we fear it is.)

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