Day 11 | Hope for victory over evil
Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.
The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice.
He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;
so his own arm achieved salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him.
He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.
According to what they have done, so will he repay
wrath to his enemies and retribution to his foes;
he will repay the islands their due.
From the west, people will fear the name of the Lord,
and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory.
For he will come like a pent-up flood
that the breath of the Lord drives along.
God made every part of the world good, and human sin marred much of it. But in the coming of Jesus that we celebrate at Christmas, there is also hope for it all – every aspect of creation, from relationships to jobs, media to business, farming to politics, will be restored in Jesus. For the next five days, we'll reflect on the hope Jesus' birth brings.
Every culture and time tends to exaggerate the characteristics of the God of the Bible that mesh well with current needs and trends. For democratic, tolerant, wealthy societies in the 21st Century, we have a razor-sharp focus on God's love, welcome, and acceptance of all. With its talk of divine wrath and retribution, some of us might therefore find this passage highly uncomfortable.
Anyone who's experienced injustice, however, will understand the craving to have the perpetrator punished and the situation reversed. There is comfort in knowing God is 'appalled' by what has happened too. We have an instinct for what's righteous that comes from the image of God in us, and we can usually see evil for what it is. Would we respect a saviour who was passive in the face of terrible wrongs?
God's 'garments of vengeance' don't look as we might imagine. Jesus Christ did not gather an army to decimate the Romans before the eyes of those they made suffer. Instead, the glory of the Lord was displayed as evil was defeated on a cross.
Lord God, you are a God of justice, and your judgment is righteous. Thank you that you have defeated evil and will one day – in great mercy and kindness – make all things right.