Is violence ever the answer? In the previous article, it was written that we should turn aside from all violence because God hates it. It was also written that vengeance belongs to God. So, it would seem that violence in all forms is strictly forbidden.
What about all the instances in the scriptures in which God instructed His people to perform violent actions, like cast plagues or conquer a heathen land? What about Ananias and Saphira in Acts 5 who lied to the Holy Spirit and were struck down dead? What about events in Revelation concerning the two witnesses? What about those violent acts?
Here is a good example of the problems that occur when we take things out of context—both scripturally and in our personal lives.
Should we love violence? No. We should love peace and strive to get along with everyone for the gospel’s sake. We should not be eager to do violence to anyone. However, there is a time for all things, and if God gives an instruction of violence then it is His vengeance that is being carried out.
Very often however, the enemies of God are instruments of His vengeance too. Consider the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and all the oppressive powers over the years. Consider the false prophet and the great whore in Revelation.
As Jesus said, many would do violence in His name and think they are doing God’s service.
Those who have a hateful heart that is quick to violence are not going to be on the righteous side of God’s vengeance coming about.
Consider all the violent-loving prophets so-called that we see today, online especially. So many are quick to condemn and proclaim God’s wrath upon the offenders. Are these doing the will of God in righteousness, or are they more like the enemies of God’s people?
Of course, there are those who are immature in the faith, and like the disciples of Jesus they desire to bring fire down from heaven to destroy the evil doers. If these are truly of God, they will learn better. They will learn that in proclaiming judgment and condemnation they only condemn themselves.
Remember what Jesus taught: with what judgement you judge you will be judged.
I can consider a time in which violence might be the righteous course. Maybe the cares of this life and deceitfulness of riches need to be taken away so that God’s people can remember His ways and return to Him. Maybe drastic measures need to be taken when things become so badly corrupted by antichrist that Christians and the world at large are headed to their doom.
We can speculate, but the point is this: those who love violence and are quick to become instruments of God’s vengeance will find themselves on the wrong side of God’s wrath.
God is patient and self-controlled. He is also wise and just. He will not give power to people who are not patient and self-controlled. Carrying out the vengeance of God should be a dreadful thing that brings sorrow. It should be a thing done in hopes of many turning back to Jesus, not a thing done out of self-righteous indignation and a desire to see people destroyed.
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, it has to do with context. When we take things out of context, we do not have the understanding to make a righteous judgment call. Making judgments out of context is another form of violence because it leads to false accusations and rash actions.
In all things, whether we are studying the scripture, considering Christian doctrine, considering a social or political issue, or handling personal matters of conflict, context is important. Take the time to listen to people who see differently than you do and have the humility to know that you could be mistaken. Take the time to understand. Take the time to pray and seek the will of God so that truth and peace are given a chance.
Context can undo much unnecessary and unrighteous violence. The violence that results from rashness, pride, and self-righteousness is the violence that will bring God’s vengeance about.
In the last days, there are two camps of violence. I could be wrong, but here is how I see it:
There are those, who out of a hateful and unrighteous heart, are killing while thinking they do righteously. Although they are instruments of God’s wrath towards the unfaithful church and the world at large, they are not righteous in what they do and they will be destroyed.
There are also those, who out of love and hope for the brethren and the world, are performing violent acts necessary to shake a world of corruption out of its complacency.
Can we tell the difference? If we cannot, we need to learn how, and Jesus will teach us.
For the record, it is not my belief that we are in the end-times in a final sense. These times could be far off. In any case, we only have one life to live, and there are many “end times” throughout history. The world powers change. Whatever comes our way, Jesus will keep us. This we can be certain of!