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Monday, July 20, 2015

God's Retribution and Compassion: A Deuteronomy 32:35-36 Devotional

35 “'Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, in due time their foot will slip, for the day of their calamity is near, and the impending things are hastening upon them.' 36 For the LORD will vindicate His people, and will have compassion on His servants,  when He sees that their strength is gone, and there is none remaining, bond or free.” Deuteronomy 32:35-36 [NASB]

In this chapter, Moses wrote and sang the song God told him to tell the Israelites before they entered the Promised Land. In chapter 31, God foretold to Moses the Israelites would turn away from Him and follow other gods. Because of that, God would allow their enemies to overcome them and take them into captivity. Chapter 32 tells of these occurrences, which God foreknew.
Besides these things, Moses taught in this song that God would still be God over everything and for His people. He is still mightier than the non-gods of the people who subdued the Israelites. God would repay the enemies of His people, Israel. From this verse, other parts of the Bible get their quote, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the LORD.” The vengeance God spoke of is the administration of just punishment. For the Israelites’ forsaking Him, their enemies would overcome them. God allowed this to happen as punishment of the Israelites. The enemies of the Israelites were the enemies of God. When they rose against and defeated Israel, God required justice on them for their usurpation of them. God’s vengeance, His administering of just punishment, did that. Retribution is the punishment inflicted for a wrong.
God, through Moses, wanted the Israelites to know He would always be their God. When they returned to Him with remorse asking for forgiveness, He would forgive them. God said He would pay back to their enemies the punishment they deserved for subduing, dispersing, and taking them into captivity. Whether a person is in a right relationship with God or not does not determine if God is real, powerful, and active in the world. What people do does not determine God. God told the Israelites the days of their enemies’ power were numbered. God is more powerful than them. When He felt just punishment occurred to the Israelites, He would turn the tables and exact His vengeance upon the Israelites’ enemies.
God still loved the Israelites and had compassion upon them. He is like fathers on earth. Because of their love they discipline their children. Love and discipline are not separated from each other. God, because of His love for the Israelites, punished them because they walked away from Him. When their punishment was enough, God’s love brought them back and He exacted punishment on the enemies of the Israelites who defeated them. God’s love works for the benefit of the people, both in punishment and protection. When the Israelites were near the end of their strength, God entered into the sphere of their captors and exacted His vengeance, His just retribution, upon them.
God allowed the Israelites to be captives of their enemies so they would learn to rely upon Him again as their only God, not to do and believe as they wanted. Paul made this sentiment in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9. God promised, too, that the enemies of His children would be defeated as per Deuteronomy 32:36. Over the succeeding 3400 years, God’s people relied upon His promise. David, Paul, and the writer of Hebrews spoke of it in Psalm 94:1, Romans 12:19, and Hebrews 10:30. Today when God’s people are in trouble, they call out to Him for help and rescue.
God still has compassion upon His people. His love extends to allowing bad things to happen to bring His people back to Him and to exacting retribution upon the enemies of His children. God promised He would never leave or forsake His children (Deuteronomy 31:6).
Today we must ask ourselves a few questions. First, are you a child of God? Do you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came to take your death penalty for your sins and who defeated death so you can live forever with God in heaven? Second, if you are a child of God and in a difficult time, have you asked God if it is due to sin in your life or because He is disciplining you to grow you? If it is the first, confess your sins and allow God to be the Lord of your life again. If it is the second, ask God to give you the strength to get through the time of disciplining so you can grow to be more Christlike and a more mature child of His. 

Which of these are you? Are you in a time of punishment or disciplining? Do you need to confess your sins? In each of these, God can be your strength. He has compassion on you and will show mercy when you are His child and He is Lord of your life. God will give you His strength. 
Have hope; God is real and overcomes.