Saturday, August 21, 2010

Seven Sets of Seventy Attempts

“Lamech said to his wives: ‘Adah and Zillah hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say: I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me.  If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, than Lamech’s revenge is seventy-sevenfold’,” Genesis 4:23-24.  Revenge has an old, old history…
Wounded.  Struck down.  We all bear bruises.  Injustice is not exclusive but a historically universal reality.  As long as you live in this world, you will experience it’s bruises.  It will rub and press hard against your happy existence.  Selah.  What to do?  
History thrives with the stories of “Lamechs”.  Individuals who would not bear a bruise without inflicting an equal or greater bruising on the guilty party.  Legalities only support a “life for a life” mentality.  Legally, we have at least the right to equality in regard to justice.  If you steal from me, I am authorized to recover equal goods and services from you.  I am authorized to redeem my lose.  It’s only just!
However, is this the sort of justice that we really want? Think for a moment.  Do you really want all of humanity demanding justice… .a life for a life?
“But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for bun, wound for wound , stripe for stripe,” Exodus 21:23-25.  There you have it.  As the story goes, there must be equal justice.  We are required to do what is fair.  
Well, I am still thinking about this.  See, there appears to be a genuine problem.  If fairness is demanded then we are all dead men walking.  Because… .all are guilty.  Therefore… .all are dead.  Everyone’s life is demanded of another.
“Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will by brother sin against me, and I forgive him?  As many as seven times?’  Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven’,”  Matthew 18:21-22.  Do you remember Lamech, Peter?  He wanted to take revenge as many as seven sets of seventy attempts!  Jesus tells Peter, Jesus tells us, to forgive as many times as Lamech wanted revenge. Or, perhaps it is better to say this: we are to forgive as many times as we desire revenge… .as many times as we want to demand fairness… .as many times as we feel authorized to take from another what they have stolen from us… .even when we are correct in our quest for justice.  We are to forgive rather than laying claim to our legal right of a life for a life.
So, in conclusion, “a life for a life” is just and fair.  But, we who put faith in the Son of God are to appeal to a better justice and a universal fairness that acquits all “dead men walking”.  Therefore, let us look into the matter of justice and forgiveness…..


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