Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
This one is a quickie. Jesus said “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). He wasn’t kidding. All throughout the Gospels you can find the Lord finishing God’s work and responding to issues from earlier in the Bible. Here’s one that the Holy Spirit called my attention to as I was reading through Genesis.
After killing his brother, Cain was cast away from the Lord; but God also gave him a mark signifying that if he was killed he would be avenged (by God) seven times over. History records,
Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”
But the Lord said to him, “Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him (Genesis 4:13-15).
Cain’s descendant Lamech later decided to up the ante; we read,
Lamech said to his wives,
“Adah and Zillah, listen to me;
Wives of Lamech, hear my words.
I have killed a man for wounding me,
A young man for injuring me.
If Cain is avenged seven times,
Then Lamech seventy-seven times” (Genesis 4:23-24).
This was totally not cool because Lamech was taking vengeance into his own hands and striking out against people. The dude showed up, was a dick, and then this story never gets referenced in the Bible again.
…Until in the New Testament when Jesus totally shuts his mindset down. The Gospel records,
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22).
We’re supposed to forgive and let God handle vengeance. That’s why Paul wrote (quoting the Lord from the Old Testament), “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19). It’s to that end that Jesus shut down the Lamech mindset most of us have (he hurt me, I’ll hurt him back!). And not only did the Lord shut it down, he even used Lamech’s number in his instructions on forgiveness.
My friend, always forgive and let the Lord handle the details.