"Hear, O our God, how we are despised! Return their reproach on their own head and give them up for plunder in a land of captivity. Do not forgive their iniquity and let not their sin be blotted out before You, for they have demoralized the builders." Nehemiah 4:4, 5
Braveheart is a bloody movie. It's about William Wallace, the Scotsman who led the rebellion against King Edward I of England. Lots of blood is spilled throughout the movie, but I'm thinking particularly of the scene in which Wallace seeks revenge for the killing of his wife. Limbs are sliced off. Spears gored into torsos. Heads are bludgeoned. Throats are slashed. Blood is splashed everywhere because of Wallace's vengeful anger. That's quite a picture, isn't it? It brought to mind the passage above, that Jon went over on Sunday in the sermon, and which we also covered in Bible Study yesterday. In this passage, we see that Nehemiah is calling for the dashing of the enemies of Israel who are jeering at their rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah desires that Israel's enemies remain under condemnation, with no hope of redemption. Jon said in the sermon Sunday that some of scripture is prescriptive, that is, it tells us what we should be doing, and some of God's Word is descriptive, that is, it tells us what people are doing, but not necessarily what they should be doing. This is a descriptive passage - Nehemiah should not have been calling for the wrath of God to come down on Israel's jeering reproachers. Yet, this is what we desire or how we feel sometimes about people, isn't it? Praise God, His grace is continually washing over us and when we confess the sin of unrighteous, malicious anger, (anger can be righteous, but we are so poor at it) we are forgiven. Jesus spilled His blood for the sins against us (and our own sin). On this side of the cross, we don't call for our enemies to be dashed. We are not to dash our enemies ourselves - those who mock us or deride us for our love for Jesus and His kingdom work. We are not to dash anyone, for any reason, with words or hateful thoughts. Jesus tells us: I took the dashing, the jeering, the derision. I was despised and rejected. All that is left for you is to live with a spirit of forgiveness in your heart. You, love your enemies and return evil with good and a curse with a blessing. We are to carry a softness in our hearts towards those who hate us and mistreat us, and with God's grace and the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us, we can choose graciousness under all mistreatment.