Ezekiel 35:5-7a,9, “Because you nursed an ancient grudge, you handed the Israelites over to the sword in the time of their distress, during their final punishment. So now the Lord God proclaims: As surely as I live, I will prepare you for blood, and blood will pursue you… I will turn you into an eternal desolation. Your cities won’t be inhabited, and you will know that I am the Lord.” (CEB)
We’ve all heard of the decades-long feuds between certain rivals: The Hatfields and McCoys, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, Al Capone and George “Bugs” Moran, to name a few. One can’t help but notice that the fate of such long-term bitterness is death and destruction. Each of the infamous clashes has a body count. Those who didn’t die never recovered from the collateral damage. They secured fates such as life in prison, mourning the loss of children, humiliation, and fallen graces in the annals of U.S. history. And how could really we expect anything different? They were all too focused on hate to notice the love of God.
Today’s reading talks about the result of “nursing an ancient grudge,” which translates in Hebrew as “everlasting enmity.” The conflict that began at the time of Jacob, the younger twin who stole his brother Esau’s birthright, continued to play out throughout the ages with their descendants Israel and Edom. The Edomites weren’t powerful, but they had a lot of hatred for the Israelites. So, when Judah was conquered by the Babylonians, the Edomites rejoiced and plundered the remains. But if you take from God’s people under duress, you’re taking from God Himself, and in the passage above, Ezekiel delivers God’s response. The Edomite’s hate-filled hearts and love for His people’s demise would be met with bloodshed and death — their people would eventually vanish from record in history.
Are you “nursing” an old grudge or harboring hatred towards another person or group? Don’t allow it to fester any longer! Even if they’ve wronged you, the pleasure gained from enacting revenge is fleeting and always ends in loss as it pollutes your relationship with God and others. Remember that the transformational power of God’s love and forgiveness allows us to share it with others — even our oldest enemies — and in the end, we win!
Heavenly Father, Thank You for Your love, forgiveness, and grace. Convict my heart to extend the same to those who’ve wronged me and help me release any bitterness I’m harboring towards others in my heart. Amen.