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  • From the Cedar Street Times, Pacific Grove

What does God say about an “eye for an eye”?

Learning to reason with God helps us respond to non-believers when they use verses in an attempt to show us God is unreasonable, or unlovable. A friend of mine used the following verse to illustrate that God is unlovable, Deut 19:21, “And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” She said that a God who would ask us to act this vengefully is not a God she could believe in.

Let us now reason with God on this subject. Gen 4:15, “And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.” and Rom 12:19, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” Clearly, these two verses demonstrate that God does not want us to become vengeful. So, let us go back to see if we can resolve the apparent conflict, Deut 19:16-21, “If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong; Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days; And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you. And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” When we read the verse in context, we see it is not revenge but justice being proposed. It includes a court and judges and establishes a penalty equal to the one the false witness was willing to see carried out on the innocent person. To put it simply, one is justice through law enforcement, and the other would be vigilantism. This is why our courts have always had us swear on a Bible before we give our testimony; it reminds us we are witnessing before our God.

Reasoning with God requires our honest attempts to understand what He is telling us. An interesting side note on this subject is that God always lets us decide our own punishment. Those who choose to misunderstand God’s Word, rather than reasoning with it are deciding their own eternal future. Those who willingly harm innocent people will suffer the consequences of the legal system; they will have to deal with their own consciences and in the end, will face God on the Day of Judgment.

The devil parses God’s words in an attempt to lead us away from God. This intentional misuse of God’s Word has confused millions. So, if we do not believe the whole Bible, we might fall for the devil’s lie that Jesus was not resurrected from the dead, Lk 16:31, “And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” God is telling us that His Word, His miracles, and His resurrection will not save us unless we believe He exists and that He has left us His Word to prove it. The cross and His resurrection are the indispensable elements of God’s message to us. It is the single most crucial moment in all of human history. It is the moment God demonstrated the depth of His love and His willingness to sacrifice for us! We need to focus on this, instead of the pain and suffering in this world.

What is this life about? Why are we here? The answers to these questions can only come from our creator. We cannot trust anyone else to answer them. So, we must look to His Living Word, which He wrote for us as a love story, Prov 30:5, “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him” a love story that tells of God’s attempts to woo His bride into an eternal relationship with Him, Rev 19:7, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.” Each of us will have to decide for ourselves, to either accept His offer or reject Him and eternity.

His love for us screams out of His first four Commandments, Ex 20:1-11, “And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” God knows when we put our love for anyone, or anything, before God, our life becomes distorted. We work too many hours, worry too much about money, or seek pleasure to the detriment of the truly more important things in our lives. Does this not remind us of a marriage, in that we must love our spouses and never put anyone, or anything, except God, before them? When we put God first and believe He has a plan for us, a plan that is the best one for our lives, Jer 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” everything works out for the best. Rom 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” This is the truth He wants us to understand.

When we put God first, we look past our everyday lives to the vision of God waiting for us at the end of this life. When we put God first we slowly, over a lifetime, change our daily activities to be in alignment with God’s plan for us, Matt 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” and Lk 9:62, “And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” As we are changing, we cannot look back. The past and all that we have done are just that, the past. We must continue to evolve, becoming the person God created us capable of becoming, the person other believers will love being around.

Putting God first allows us to accept that God is the higher power who will lead us out of our addictions and away from evil. It allows us to live a more peaceful life, a more thankful life. Putting God first helps us avoid the temptations the devil uses to draw us away from God. Think of the lives destroyed by the addictions of lying, alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, etc. Most importantly, putting God first helps us shine the light God has given us so that others might also find their way to Him, Matt 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Matt 6:24, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” and Jn 12:43, “For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” and Matt 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” God is telling us that without Him and His love for us, we will not be able to resist the temptations the devil continually puts before us. The treasures the devil leads us towards will lead us away from God. The solution is to keep God first in our lives. God has a purpose for all mankind, but He also has a purpose for each of us. When we put idols ahead of God, we cannot fulfill His purpose for our lives. When we lie, by masking our love for idols, we do not fool God. Our love for Him must be genuine.

When we begin reasoning with God, His Holy Spirit, whom He has placed within each of us, helps us find the path to Him. The Holy Spirit is God working inside us to help us do our part in completing His plan, Phil 2:13, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” It is the acceptance of Jesus as our savior that gives us the faith necessary to fulfill our part in His plan, Gal 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” He will never reject us if we are honest about our faith in Him, Jn 6:37, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

Understanding His first four Commandments helps us see God more clearly. Hopefully, this will lead us to honestly reason with God and those who come to us with verses out of context. God is in the process of creating the perfect world for His eternal family. This world is not it! He has invited all of us to reason with Him so that we might come to understand His Truth and choose to spend eternity with Him. He has no other motivation! So, with this in mind, what is keeping us from choosing to be part of His eternal family? What do we lose when we accept His offer? What do we gain by rejecting it? What part does the Bible play in all of this? The Bible, along with prayer, should be our first source for answers to all of our questions, and reading just 5 pages a day will lead us to fulfill our destiny.

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