Messiah the Avenger
Thought for the Week:
Messiah is our redeemer. He has redeemed us from slavery, from sin, from condemnation and from death. He is our kinsmen redeemer, our brother in the house of God, who has ransomed us from the debt we could not pay. Therefore, we speak of Him as redeemer. He is also the national redeemer of Israel. Just as Moses, the first redeemer, redeemed all Israel from slavery, so too the second redeemer, Messiah, redeems the whole nation. And this great second redemption is not only a spiritual redemption, but it is the literal, physical redemption of Israel. He will gather the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob from the nations, and restore them to the land of Israel.
The blood avenger himself shall put the murderer to death; he shall put him to death when he meets him. (Numbers 35:19)
Messiah is the redeemer of Israel. In the Bible, the job of a kinsmen redeemer includes taking blood vengeance. Therefore, if Messiah is to redeem Israel, He must also avenge Israel. He will require recompense in blood for every drop of Jewish blood that has been spilled, and for every drop of His disciple’s blood, whether Jew or Gentile. Psalm 110 says, “He will judge among the nations, He will fill them with corpses, He will shatter the chief men over a broad country. He will drink from the brook by the wayside; therefore He will lift up His head.” (Psalm 110:6–7)
Psalm 9:12 speaks of God as the redeemer, the blood avenger, when it says, “He who requires blood remembers them; He does not forget the cry of the afflicted.” Psalm 79:10 says, “Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’ Let there be known among the nations in our sight, vengeance for the blood of Your servants which has been shed.”
The implications of Messiah coming to avenge the blood of Israel is frightening when we consider that the Church has been, historically, the chief spiller of Israel’s blood. In the name of Christ, literally hundreds and hundreds of thousands, even millions of Jews have been ruthlessly killed through the centuries.
The book of Revelation depicts the souls of martyrs crying out to God for vengeance:
“How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” … and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also. (Revelation 6:9–11)
In Deuteronomy, the LORD says, “Vengeance is Mine, and retribution,” (Deuteronomy 32:35) The prophet Isaiah assures us, “Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance; the recompense of God will come, but He will save you.” (Isaiah 35:4) All of these texts combine to paint a dire picture of Messiah’s second coming. When He comes again, He comes as the avenger of His people.
The second reading from the book of Numbers and the thirty-fifth reading from the Torah is called Nasso (נשא), a word that literally means “lift up.” It comes from the first word of the second verse in Hebrew, which could literally be translated to say, “Lift up the heads of the sons of Gershon,” an idiomatic way of saying, “Make an accounting of the sons of Gershon.” This Torah portion finishes up the census of the Levites that was under way at the end of the last Torah portion, before going on to discuss the purification of the camp, the ritual for a woman suspected of adultery, the laws of the Nazirite vow, the priestly benediction and the gifts the heads of the twelve tribes brought for the dedication of the altar.