This semester, I am taking a class about the book of Revelation. And the class is great!! Revelation has always interested me, and I’ve been learning so much. Last week, we were reading through the book and we came across the part where the martyrs who were killed because of their testimony about Jesus cry out God, asking, “How long Lord until you vindicate us?” This led to a discussion about preparatory prayers.
Should Christians ask God for justice when something wrong is done to them? Aren’t we called to forgiveness? How can God be both just AND forgiving?
When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the people slaughtered because of God’s word and the testimony they had. They cried out with a loud voice: “Lord, the One who is holy and true, how long until You avenge our blood from those who live on the Earth?” –Rev. 6:9-10
Forgiveness and Justice are NOT mutually exclusive.
Reading this passage can be hard because we like to focus on forgiveness and God’s love for His creation, but I think it is important to remember that justice and forgiveness are not mutually exclusive. God is BOTH just AND forgiving. Focusing too much on one end of the spectrum or forgetting one part of his character entirely is not only taking Scripture out of context, it’s making God out to be someone that he isn’t.
At the cross, our sins were forgiven, but justice was also served. That is the power of the gospel. God just didn’t ignore our sin and forgive us. The Bible tells us that the wrath of God was poured out on Jesus. Because God is a just God, the punishment for our sin had to be paid. At the cross, Jesus bore our sin so that by his blood, we have been made righteous. Now, when God looks at us, he sees the sacrifice of his son and that through it, we have been justified.
As Christians, we are called to forgiveness, but that does not mean we forget about justice.
Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. –Luke 6:37
Forgiveness is a powerful thing. We are always called to forgive, but that does not mean we forget about justice. In my story Guilty (if you haven’t read it and wish to, you can check it out here), the main character learns to forgive his best friend after he killed his little brother in a school shooting. Even though he forgave him, his former best friend still is serving jail time for the tragedy he committed. Forgiveness isn’t just about the other person, but about ourselves. By forgiving someone, we can let go of the hatred in our hearts that can eat us alive.
Vengeance belongs to God and God alone.
Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but leave room for God’s wrath. For it is written: “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” –Romans 12:19
It’s okay to want justice. It’s okay to pray for God to seek justice on those who have done wrong against us, but I think the power of the martyrs’ cry isn’t that they are asking for justice to be served, but in who they are asking. They are crying out to God to vindicate them because they know that it isn’t their place to seek revenge. Vengeance and justice belongs to the Lord.
God loves his children. He knows when there is something wrong done to one of his people, and his word promises that he will vindicate us. But it has to be his way and his timing.
God is both forgiving and just, and worthy of all our praise!
Let me know what you think in the comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Until next time, God bless!