“Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.”
Do not Fear
When a man comes with vengeance, it’s pretty much a given that someone will die. When a hero comes with retribution, it’s pretty much a given that the bad guys will pay for what they’ve done. Because when the hero comes with vengeance and retribution, he comes as an unstoppable juggernaut of retaliation.
But what happens when God comes with vengeance? What happens when the retribution isn’t human, it’s divine? You heard what the prophet said: God will come with vengeance and divine retribution. God is the original, unstoppable, almighty juggernaut. The bad guys don’t stand a chance.
But who are the bad guys? God is not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with him the wicked cannot dwell (Psalm 5:4). That means sinners are the bad guys. Sinners like you and me.
In our verse for today, God threatens judgment. Why would he do such a thing? You’re on his side, aren’t you? Not when you sin. Sin means that you are on your side. And, you cannot hide it.
But with God, things are not always what they seem. When God comes with vengeance and retribution, he doesn’t take your life, he saves it. Listen again to what he says: “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come … to save you.” Your Savior Jesus fulfills these words. Christ comes with vengeance into a world destroyed by sin, a world full of people bound by sin, and he rains down holy retaliation on that sin! But not in the way you would expect.
When Jesus died on the cross, he destroyed the bad guy. But the bad guy wasn’t you. It was sin. Jesus took your infirmities and carried your sorrows to the cross, and by his wounds you are healed (Isaiah 53:4,5). That’s why you do not need to fear God’s wrath. All of God’s vengeance and all of his retribution for every sin fell on Jesus, not on you.
Dearest Jesus, thank you for enduring divine retribution for my sins. Amen.