Chapter 25:12-17 (ESV) - Thus says the Lord God: Because Edom acted revengefully against the house of Judah and has grievously offended in taking vengeance on them, therefore thus says the Lord God, I will stretch out my hand against Edom and cut off from it man and beast. And I will make it desolate; from Teman even to Dedan they shall fall by the sword. And I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people Israel, and they shall do in Edom according to my anger and according to my wrath, and they shall know my vengeance, declares the Lord God.
“Thus says the Lord God: Because the Philistines acted revengefully and took vengeance with malice of soul to destroy in never-ending enmity, therefore thus says the Lord God, Behold, I will stretch out my hand against the Philistines, and I will cut off the Cherethites and destroy the rest of the seacoast. I will execute great vengeance on them with wrathful rebukes. Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I lay my vengeance upon them.”
Question to consider: Who is the most famous among the Philistines?
The land of Edom was made up of the descendents of Esau which always held a grudge against the Jews for losing out on what they believed was their birthright. Despite the fact that Jacob deceived Isaac in receiving the blessing, God had declared from the point in which Jacob and Esau were born that Jacob would be the heir. Isaac had sinned in his plan to give it to Esau. This did not seem to matter to the Edomites though, and they were to be judged for helping Nebuchadnezzar to invade Israel. The Ammonites may have laughed at the destruction of Jerusalem, but the Edomites aided in it.
When someone talked about the entire nation of Israel, they would describe it from Dan to Beersheba. In the prophecy, the description ‘Teman to Dedan’ would refer to the entirety of Edom being wiped out. Once again, they would know this was from the Lord because He prophesied it beforehand.
The fourth nation to receive the vengeance of God was Philistia. The Philistines were enemies of Israel from the time of Saul, Israel’s very first human king. The Philistines were giants compared with the Israelites, and yet David, who was even small for an Israelite, was used by God to strike down their greatest warrior, Goliath. Like Edom, Philistia took advantage of Babylon’s siege against Jerusalem to enact their revenge, and God therefore declared the day of vengeance He would have against them.
People may not like that God talks of vengeance and judgment in these passages, but none of it was arbitrary or unwarranted. Even though the judgment may be described in a paragraph, people endured years of persecution from these countries, and they trusted God to rightly carry out justice among the nations. As the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians being persecuted in Rome, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:19-21)
We are told not to take vengeance because we tend to sin when we do it. We leave it to God because God administers perfect justice.
Dear heavenly father, help us to leave justice in Your hands that it may occur at the right time and in the right measure. May we instead have an attitude of mercy and in doing so receive mercy for the wrongs we do against others. Amen.