One of my family’s current favorite movies is The Avengers. We even have all the related movies (The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man & Iron Man 2, and Thor), and we like to watch the series to make connections between the different stories.
An altruistic super-soldier fights alongside a narcissistic man of iron. An immortal god joins forces with an angry, seemingly indestructible, mutated scientist. And two uniquely skilled humans operate with seemingly fearless intensity. Together, the are considered “The Avengers“?
To “avenge” means taking vengeance or exacting satisfaction for some perceived wrong. Quite often, vengeance comes for someone on behalf of another, such as when The Avengers unite to defeat the narcissistic, power hungry Loki.
Vengeance involves inflicting harm, injury or humiliation on someone who has harmed another. Vengeance is at times also described as “violent revenge.”
We enjoy fictional stories like The Avengers, I think in part, because we find comfort in the idea of a hero coming to our rescue when all otherwise seems lost. This type of story connects with us at a deeper level and goes to a part of us that wants to know we can survive impossible odds.
In addition to being entertaining with action and humor, The Avengers satisfies a deeper need in all of us to know someone is keeping us safe. We like the idea of a hero willing to protect us at all costs, one willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good.
While Captain America may be called “The First Avenger” in Hollywood, Christians know that isn’t true. Let’s explore that fact further.
The character of God is vast and awesome. I often find myself completely stupefied as I contemplate all of what scripture says He is. God never changes (Hebrews 13:8). God is love (1 John 4:8). God is patient (2 Peter 3:9). God is light 1 John 1:5). God is healer and redeemer (Psalm 103). God is the creator, and He is everlasting (Isaiah 40:28).
AND God is vengeful and jealous. Wait! What?
The LORD is a jealous and vengeful God; the LORD is vengeful and strong in wrath. The LORD is vengeful against his foes; he rages against his enemies. The LORD is very patient but great in power; the LORD punishes. His way is in whirlwind and storm; clouds are the dust of his feet. He can blast the sea and make it dry up; he can dry up all the rivers. Bashan and Carmel wither; the bud of Lebanon withers. The mountains quake because of him; the hills melt away. The earth heaves before him— the world and all who dwell in it. Who can stand before his indignation? Who can confront the heat of his fury? His wrath pours out like fire; the rocks are shattered because of him. The LORD is good, a haven in a day of distress. He acknowledges those who take refuge in him. With a rushing flood, he will utterly destroy her place and pursue his enemies into darkness. (Nahum 1:2-8)
I love to think of all of who God is until I come to vengeful and jealous. I struggle with this. But, I also realize that it’s as much a part of who He is as are all His other character traits.
Yes, God is THE Avenger. He caused the walls of Jericho to fall at the trumpet blast (Joshua 6). He caused the armies of 3 nations surrounding Jeoshaphat and the Israelites to fight themselves instead of attacking the Israelites (2 Chronicles 20). God caused the altars to be completely consumed even though they were drenched with water in Elijah’s contest with the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18). The Old Testaments holds story after story of supernatural victory over the enemies of God’s people.
What’s more, scripture clearly indicates over and over again that God will avenge all evil.
“Celebrate, nations, join the praise of his people. He avenges the deaths of his servants, pays back his enemies with vengeance, and cleanses his land for his people.” (Deuteronomy 32:43)
“Then the Master said, “Do you hear what that judge, corrupt as he is, is saying? So what makes you think God won’t step in and work justice for his chosen people, who continue to cry out for help? Won’t he stick up for them? I assure you, he will. He will not drag his feet. But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?” (Luke 18:6-8)
“Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. ‘I’ll do the judging,’ says God. ‘I’ll take care of it.’” (Romans 12:17-19)
When evil overwhelms, when dishonest people seem to prosper, and when all hope for this world seems lost, I need to remember all the times God has avenged His people and all the promises He has for doing so again in the future.
DISCUSSION: So much could be said about God as The Avenger. What does this aspect of His character do for your perspective?