Vengeance is Love – Klaas Goverts (trans. Floris and Judith Kersloot)

November 24, 2016
Posted in Blog
November 24, 2016 Editor

Vengeance is Love – Klaas Goverts (trans. Floris and Judith Kersloot)

Please click on audio of post. NOTE: only main text read; no links, text markings, images, videos, footnotes, etc. read aloud.

WN: The brief article below so captures the absolute essence of biblical justice, biblical vengeance. See also my book review of God’s Just Vengeance; and also Christopher Marshall’s two outstanding studies on biblical justice that is invariably restorative, here, and again here.

Vengeance is Love” (Mar 26, 2012)

by Klaas Goverts, translated by Floris and Judith Kersloot 

Vengeance is Love

“O Lord, God of vengeance,

God of vengeance, shine forth.

Rise up, O Judge of the earth.”

(Psalm 94:1-2)

God is the Judge of the earth; Abraham even said, “the whole earth.” Here we must not think of a stern person wielding a gavel, but a merciful God who will put everything right, who will bring about justice.1 God is the one who straightens the crooked paths (Isaiah 45:2) of the whole earth. His appearance in vengeance, therefore, doesn’t bring forth darkness but creates a radiant light.

Vengeance is recovery

The Hebrew word for vengeance is naqam. And naqam has the meaning: restoring justice.2 Vengeance is the restoration and recovery of justice. Traditionally the word naqam also has to do with qum, which means ‘rising up.’ Thus, vengeance has got everything to do with raising up what has fallen. Vengeance biblically, therefore, has everything do with the restoration of all things.3 “God of vengeance, shine forth,” says Psalm 94. Popular opinion says if God appears with his vengeance, it will become dark. But Psalm 94 says, the light will shine. There will again be radiance in our lives.

The connotation of the word vengeance

Vengeance generally sounds slightly negative and malevolent in our ears. If you have feelings of vengeance, you don’t generally have much good in mind, do you? Rather, vengeance actually is the restoration of the relationships in the community. So vengeance has to do with restoring, the recovery of relationships. Vengeance has everything to do with the question: How do we get Cain and Abel back together? How do we re-unite Jacob and Esau? How will coherence be restored? How do two opposites become one again? How do you get back the original unity? So again, the biblical vengeance is the rehabilitation of the relationships within the community. Vengeance is in fact a form of love, a kind of straightening. The relationships that are skewed will be straightened, so that people can look one another straight in the eyes again.

Joseph’s vengeance was about giving his brothers bread. This is the mercy-bread, which is at the heart of the gospel. Elie Wiesel says in this regard: “the victim gets the last word”–giving bread to the enemy. You can also see this portrayed in the story of Elisha and the king of Syria. Rather than crushing the enemy, bread is being distributed. (2 Kings 6:21)

Divine vengeance is the counterpart of the vendetta, which says an eye for an eye (cf. Matt. 5:38-39). However, evil is to be overcome with good (Romans 12:21).

Endnotes

  1. The Dutch word for ‘bringing into justice’ is ‘terecht brengen.’ It carries a double meaning: bringing into justice and finding what was lost.
  2. Elsewhere the author says, “God’s wrath is not blind anger, but a ‘seeing anger’ that looks beyond. So if God rebukes his enemy, it has to do with the breath of his Spirit.” Goverts renders Isaiah 11:4 – “By the breath of his mouth [referring to the Messiah], he will slay the destroyer [Dutch – afbreker].” He writes, “So his wrath is a creative anger that brings about something which otherwise would not have been. Sometimes we need to deconstruct (make a clearing) in order to create another path, a passible way.”
  3. In Acts 3:32, the Dutch word for restoration is ‘wederoprichting’ and carries both the sense of restoration and raising up.

BiographyGoverts

Dr. K. D. Goverts studied theology from 1964 to 1972 at the University of Utrecht. He graduated in 1992 from the University of Amsterdam with the thesis: Het Lied van de Doortocht (The Song of Passage — on Exodus 15).

Dr. K.D. Goverts gave Bible courses in the Netherlands, Belgium and Martinique. He was inspired by the German Bible translations of the Jewish philosophers Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig and the French Bible translation of Andre Chouraqui. The thought of Jewish thinkers Edmond Fleg, Andre Neher, Bernard Chouraqui and others are sources of inspiration for his studies.

Some of his Bible studies are chronicled and translated into French for the benefit of churches in the Congo. Dr. K. D. Goverts is also a pastor in North Holland province at Ursem, Avenhorn and Berkhout.

 

  1. [1]Please look at several articles as well on American/Western will to world domination by clicking on "Selected Articles: Western Aggression Backed by Western Media”. The series of articles is introduced thus:
    The Western allies never run dry of resources to support their global war of terror and aggression, ostensibly an integral part of their foreign policy. They dynamically legislate laws lest the people awaken. They have the unbending support of the corporate media, which skilfully distorts reality. When will they ever back down from their destructive quest for colonies? Read our selection below.
  2. [2]It continued:
    ‘For seven months, Tiger Force soldiers moved across the Central Highlands, killing scores of unarmed civilians – in some cases torturing and mutilating them - in a spate of violence never revealed to the American public,’ the newspaper said, at other points describing the killing of hundreds of unarmed civilians. ‘Women and children were intentionally blown up in underground bunkers,’ The Blade said. ‘Elderly farmers were shot as they toiled in the fields. Prisoners were tortured and executed - their ears and scalps severed for souvenirs. One soldier kicked out the teeth of executed civilians for their gold fillings.”   The New York Times confirmed the claimed accuracy of the stories by contacting several of those interviewed.  It reported: “But they wanted to make another point: that Tiger Force had not been a ‘rogue’ unit. Its members had done only what they were told, and their superiors knew what they were doing. “Burning huts and villages, shooting civilians and throwing grenades into protective shelters were common tactics for American ground forces throughout Vietnam, they said. That contention is backed up by accounts of journalists, historians and disillusioned troops… ‘Vietnam was an atrocity from the get-go,’ [one veteran] said in a recent telephone interview. ‘It was that kind of war, a frontless war of great frustration. There were hundreds of My Lais. You got your card punched by the numbers of bodies you counted.’ Current likely Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry was also quoted giving evidence before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971.  He reported that American soldiers in Vietnam had “raped, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country. Nicholas Turse [later author of: Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam], a doctoral candidate at Columbia University, has been studying government archives and said they were filled with accounts of similar atrocities. ''I stumbled across the incidents The Blade reported,'' Mr. Turse said by telephone. ''I read through that case a year, year and a half ago, and it really didn't stand out. There was nothing that made it stand out from anything else. That's the scary thing. It was just one of hundreds.'' Yet there were few prosecutions.
  3. [3]Historian John Coatsworth in The Cambridge History of the Cold War noted:
    Between 1960, by which time the Soviets had dismantled Stalin's gulags, and the Soviet collapse in 1990, the numbers of political prisoners, torture victims, and executions of nonviolent political dissenters in Latin America vastly exceeded those of the Soviet Union and its East European satellites. In other words, from 1960 to 1990, the Soviet bloc as a whole was less repressive, measured in terms of human victims, than many individual Latin American countries [under direct sway of US Empire] ("The Cold War in Central America", pp. 216 - 221).
    What was true for Latin America was true for around the world: massive human rights abuses, assassinations, regime changes of democratically elected governments, etc., etc., etc. orchestrated by US Empire. Yet Americans invariably have wanted it both ways: to be seen as the exemplary "City on A Hill" that upholds universal human rights and democracy, while operating a brutal Empire directly contrary to all such elevated values, and a concomitant rapacious Empire market economy that takes no prisoners. This began of course even before the founding of the United States of America and continued apace, in its mass slaughter and dispossession of indigenous peoples, in its brutal system of slavery on which its obscene wealth in the textile industry in the first place was built. "The Land of the Free" conceit was a sustained con job on the part of America's leaders. It was also apotheosis of hypocrisy. American exceptionalism was/is true in one respect only: it was brutal like no other Empire in its eventual global reach.
  4. [5]
  5. [4] The highlighted article about renowned whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg points to again what is utterly chilling, horror-filled, exponentially beyond immoral, American (hence the world's) reality: "Daniel Ellsberg: U.S. Military Planned First Strike On Every City In Russia and China … and Gave Many Low-Level Field Commanders the Power to Push the Button". [5]He has since written The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. Of it we read:
    Shortlisted for the 2018 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist for the California Book Award in Nonfiction The San Francisco Chronicle's Best of 2017 List In These Times “Best Books of 2017” Huffington Post's Ten Excellent December Books List LitHub's “Five Books Making News This Week” From the legendary whistle-blower who revealed the Pentagon Papers, an eyewitness exposé of the dangers of America's Top Secret, seventy-year-long nuclear policy that continues to this day. Here, for the first time, former high-level defense analyst Daniel Ellsberg reveals his shocking firsthand account of America's nuclear program in the 1960s. From the remotest air bases in the Pacific Command, where he discovered that the authority to initiate use of nuclear weapons was widely delegated, to the secret plans for general nuclear war under Eisenhower, which, if executed, would cause the near-extinction of humanity, Ellsberg shows that the legacy of this most dangerous arms buildup in the history of civilization--and its proposed renewal under the Trump administration--threatens our very survival. No other insider with high-level access has written so candidly of the nuclear strategy of the late Eisenhower and early Kennedy years, and nothing has fundamentally changed since that era.
  6. [6]A classic instance of this aligning with "just war" is the United States' "war on drugs" as subset of "war on crime", while at the same time the CIA was a major worldwide drug dealer in league with other drug cartels -- all done to enhance American Empire during the Cold War -- and continues to the present. The four-part series mentioned below connects American Empire drug dealing to the current War on Terror, in particular in Afghanistan. This of course is colossal hypocrisy as well. Worse: the series posits American federal government administrations over many decades as the Ultimate Drug Cartel, with Blacks, Latinos, and generally the poor directly being knowingly poisoned en masse. Then they have been primary targets of the Drug Enforcement Agency, and thereby become victims of America's too often savage prison system that oppresses and brutalizes them all over again... See: "The War on Drugs Is a Failure, So [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions Is All for It". A citation from the article reads:
    In June [2017], the History Channel aired a four-part documentary series called America’s War on Drugs.” The series asserts that the war on drugs was actually a war of drugs—and that the CIA was essentially a partner in spreading drugs and drug use. The series follows how the U.S. intelligence agency, in an obsession with fighting communism, allied itself with U.S. organized crime and foreign drug traffickers and includes firsthand accounts from many involved. In an interview with Truthdig columnist Sonali Kolhatkar on her radio program “Rising Up With Sonali,” the series’ executive producer, Anthony Lappé, explains why the CIA got involved:
    It’s actually a pretty mind-blowing story when you look at the extent to which the CIA was involved with drug traffickers and drug trafficking throughout the Cold War. … If you look at Cold War policy against the Soviet Union, we were locked in a global battle for supremacy, where we have lots of proxy wars going on. … We needed to team up with local allies, and often the local allies we were teaming up with were people who had access to guns, who had access to underground networks, to help us fight the perceived threat of communism. There are actually a lot of similarities between what drug traffickers do and what the CIA does.
    Lappé elaborates by saying the hypocrisy of the war on drugs has been evident from the start: Secret CIA experiments with LSD helped fuel the counterculture movement, leading to President Richard Nixon’s crackdown and declaration of the war on drugs. The series also explores the CIA’s role in the rise of crack cocaine in poor black communities and a secret island “cocaine base.” In addition the documentary makes the connection between the war on drugs, the war on terror and the transformation of Afghanistan into a narco state and contends that American intervention in Mexico helped give clout to Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and the super cartels, making it easier to send drugs across American borders. Watch Kolhatkar’s full interview with Lappé by clicking here. Please also see the now classic: The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, by noted American historian Alfred McCoy. Of it we read:
    The first book to prove CIA and U.S. government complicity in global drug trafficking, The Politics of Heroin includes meticulous documentation of dishonesty and dirty dealings at the highest levels from the Cold War until today. Maintaining a global perspective, this groundbreaking study details the mechanics of drug trafficking in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and South and Central America. New chapters detail U.S. involvement in the narcotics trade in Afghanistan and Pakistan before and after the fall of the Taliban, and how U.S. drug policy in Central America and Colombia has increased the global supply of illicit drugs.
    To be noted as well is Johann Hari's Chasing The Scream, which tells the tragic tale of America's long-standing offensive against drugs, and the way to end such a war worldwide -- that several nations are successfully embracing.
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Editor

Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

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