“Revenge is a dish best served cold.” You’ve probably heard this phrase. While it’s been around earth for a few hundred years, Khan, in the movie “The Wrath of Khan” reminds us that this is an old Klingon proverb. And it’s one that we seem to enjoy. We want revenge. We want to enjoy each little piece of that revenge as it unfolds. We want the people we seek vengeance on to not realize what’s happening until the last minute when they see our smiling face enjoying that revenge. Oh, we know that the Bible says that “’Vengeance is mine,” says the Lord,” but when we seek vengeance, we know that this is what God really wanted, and we are just the instruments of God’s vengeance. It may be a tough job, but we certainly do enjoy it.
Perhaps we feel a bit guilty, as Christians, for wanting vengeance. We should. But then, how often do we get excited at the idea that the end of the world is coming, knowing that those who have persecuted us will receive what they deserve. So, we pray for Jesus to come again – and quickly. It is biblical to do that, after all. We set dates, or follow people who do, hoping against hope that maybe this time the prediction will be right. And we’re disappointed when the predictor is wrong. As they have been hundreds, if not thousands of times. The real truth is that vengeance may seem sweet, especially served cold, but the after taste can make your stomach sour. “Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me once more: ‘Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.’ So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, ‘Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but “in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.”’” (Revelation 10:8-9)
The angel John is dealing with reminds us of the story in Ezekiel 3 where the prophet is given a scroll with the word of God. It tasted sweet in his mouth as he ate it and then went forth to proclaim the word of God to the people of Israel. As the angel tells John to take the scroll and eat it, though, he adds something: it will turn his stomach sour. This is after the message of the seven thunders, that God wouldn’t allow John to write, and the oath of the angel holding the scroll that there would be no more delay in accomplishing God’s plan. After all the plagues and punishments brought upon the earth during the earlier parts of the Revelation, the angel says to those still alive on earth, “You ain’t seen nothing yet. God will no longer delay accomplishing His purpose.” (That was, of course, my paraphrased translation.)
We think we want vengeance against those who have persecuted us, but the truth is, every time a person dies without Jesus in their lives, it should make our stomachs sour. We should hate that anyone, even our worst enemies, have died without Christ so much, that instead of celebrating their demise, we should mourn that they didn’t know Jesus. Every time I think vengeance will satisfy me, someone who has caused problems for Christians undergoes problems and I feel sick for them, wishing they had Jesus to guide them through the difficult times. How can we enjoy vengeance when we follow a Man who called for God to forgive those who executed Him? In a society that thrives on vengeance, served hot or cold, we need to rethink our call and take vengeance off the menu. If God had wanted vengeance, I doubt this world would have lasted as long as it has. We serve a living God who wants a positive relationship with the people He created. Our job is to show that love to all, even our enemies.
Lord, You have called us to pray for those who persecute us. It ain’t easy! Help me to pray for those.