June 24, 2018 – Releasing Vengeance
Preacher: Rev. Scott Strickman
Sermon Series: Genesis 1-4
Genesis 4:17-26 (ESV)
17 Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch. 18 To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad fathered Mehujael, and Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech. 19 And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. 20 Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. 21 His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. 22 Zillah also bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.
23 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.
24 If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold,
then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.”
25 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.” 26 To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.
What do you do with your vengeful desires? Three options:
I) Act on them
- vv23-24 “… If Cain’s revenge is seven-fold, then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.”
II) Entrust them
- v25 “God appointed for me…”
- v26 “people began to call upon the name of the Lord”
III) Release them
- Matthew 18:21-22 “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”
Questions for Reflection
- What kinds of responses do you have when someone does something wrong to you? How many of those thoughts or feelings would fit under the category of revenge or vengeance? What other desires or impulses do you have (that aren’t vengeful)?
- Think of a time where you acted with spite or did something against someone who had done you wrong. Did it make you feel better? In what ways? Are there ways you were left unsatisfied? Regretful?
- Reflect on Genesis 4:23-24. How do you see that Lamech’s words and actions are very problematic?
- What are some of the challenges to trusting God to be the one who will repay (and therefore you shouldn’t)? Does leaving vengeance to God mean we don’t hold humans accountable (that there aren’t legitimate actions or means for those who have suffered harm)? What guidelines or principles are there for trusting God but also pursuing action?
- Why is forgiveness so hard?
- Is forgiveness really essential to moving forward when you have been wronged? What benefits are there to the person who chooses to forgive?
- How can the death of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins reshape your understanding about forgiveness, mercy and grace? How can you grasp more deeply the forgiveness offered to you? How can a deeper understanding of God’s forgives towards you re-shape you into a person whose heart is oriented by love?
Prayer of Confession
Our Father, we recognize the influence corruption has on our hearts. Despite our best intentions, our good desires are easily corroded and we recognize within us all sorts of forces that blind us, consume us, harm us, and lead us to regretful actions. Forgive our vengeful spirits and all the components that feed and surround our ruminating thoughts. Forgive the words and actions that have been expressed with the intent of harming others. Forgive us, releasing us from our sin and its guilt, and renew a right spirit in us so that your forgiveness would become the way of life for us. Amen.