To apply Paul’s commendation to God, let me use his words about the Savior:
Behold, [Jesus] you were in pain for God’s Work. What sense of urgency you exhibited, what an apologetic, what indignation for what is right to do, what respect of God’s will, what passion and zeal and vindication of God’s Word [vengeance]. In every way without sin you presented yourself Your Father’s Servant at Calvary.
To reconcile us to God, Jesus had to deal with the sin in our lives that broke the first covenant by not only forgiving us [He would not annul the covenant] but by making restitution [He would fulfill it]. Some say He did this through His perfect obedience in His incarnation and death. Others see Jesus satisfying divine justice. After this in His resurrection He could bring into being the New covenant now written on the heart.
Love displayed—we might add—with a vengeance!
Is it possible that English is weak in explaining the Divine intention? Vengeance with God was an act of judgment directed always at God’s enemies. To think that somehow God’s intention was to return pain for pain, blow for blow against someone with whom He was displeased suggests that such a punishment [which is another word for vengeance] was merely intended to give God some satisfaction as the more powerful or the victor in such an exchange. It is to suggest that God was not particularly conscious of how His opponent felt or to what degree they were experience the pain of His divine blows. It suggests uncontrolled rage on an infinite level without any further thought about the offender turned victim [in today’s parlance].
What we do know for sure is that the unfaithfulness of His people [me and you included, Galatians 3:22 “concluded all under sin,”] ignited a flair up of Divine jealousy to get us back, and to bring this about Jesus willingly submitted to the Cross. Would this not mean that on the Cross Jesus was engaged in a battle with Satan and sin but, as regards me and you, He wanted us back? (John 3:16)
The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The LORD takes vengeance on his foes and vents his wrath against his enemies. Nahum 1:2
Understood, we teach and sing that Jesus at Calvary paid our debt in full and we found a couple scriptures that support this interpretation. In Colossians 2:14 we may interpret “handwriting of ordinances” as a certificate of debt as well as have Jesus’ words from the Cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30) mean “paid in full.” The Lord instructs me not to disturb this because such a presumption would be pure arrogance on my part that suggests I know something which the Lord has not yet shared.
We see through a glass darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12) but when we arrive in Glory, the fog surrounding this central truth, “Jesus died for me” will lift and we will “know as we are known.”