An eye for an eye ∙


An eye for an eye ∙

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth . . .. – Exodus 21:24

Exodus 21:23-25

 23 But if there is further injury, the punishment must match the injury: a life for a life,

 24 an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot,

 25 a burn for a burn, a wound for a wound, a bruise for a bruise.

In June 2017, Kieran Healy of Orange County in central North Carolina got a water bill for $189.92. The water bill wasn’t so bad, but the service charge was out of this world. The service charge was just shy of $100 million. Kieran was certain that he had not used that much water the previous month. But he facetiously offered to make installment payments to the Orange Water and Sewer Authority. The utility’s Stephen Winters assured him that the huge service charge was a mistake and that it would be reversed. His debt would be forgiven in full.

What a relief. Owing $100 million would be insurmountable for any normal human being. But there are other kinds of debts besides monetary ones that need to be paid.

Exodus 21:24 an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth . . ..

Everybody has heard it, but few know what it actually means. It is not about taking revenge and getting even. If everyone in society literally did carry out this idea, then we would live in a land of the blind and toothless. Why the common misunderstanding? Because the phrase has been taken out of its biblical context.

Exodus 21:23-25

 23 But if there is further injury, the punishment must match the injury: a life for a life,

 24 an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot,

 25 a burn for a burn, a wound for a wound, a bruise for a bruise.

This principle has been dubbed the Law of Retaliation. It would be better named the Law of Limited Retaliation. This law was intended to restrict inequitable punishment or retribution. The punishment should fit the crime.

The rich and powerful could and did kill a mosquito with a cannon. Payback was often horrendous and outrageous.

The Romans got it right. They gave us the Latin phrase Lex Talionis (law of retaliation). The Latin word talis means “of like kind.” The English word “retaliate,” is derived from the Latin word talis and means, “to pay back in kind.”

The Father’s law as recorded by Moses was never about getting even or taking revenge. It was intended to prevent people from taking excessive revenge and insisting upon inordinate retribution and reprisals.


The Father is not in the revenge business. He is in the redemption business. But if revenge is required, the buck stops with Him and He takes responsibility for settling accounts. Do not avenge yourselves, dear friends, but give place to God’s wrath, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord (Romans 12:19).

Father thank You that we are forgiven. Encourage our hearts to be forgiving and not seek our own revenge.


What happens when the injury is so great that no one on earth can provide adequate compensation?

The Father God is holy, righteous, and good. Sin is repugnant to Him. When people sin, it mounts up and accrues a negative balance of sin debt. Over our lifetimes this debt becomes insurmountable. It is just like owing while $100 million to the water company. But our sin debt no clerical error. It is real, and it requires payment. Along with the sin itself comes collateral consequences of guilt, shame, and a sense of utter uselessness and nagging recurrent failure. It is impossible for us to pay off our sin debt. How could it ever be forgiven?

The Father and the Son came up with a plan to wipe out each person’s sin debt. In the calculus of deity, it was determined that sin debts could be expunged and forgiven. It would be possible for someone who was debt-free, that is, had no sin, to die for the sins of others. Thus one righteous, holy person could pay off the debt of others. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God was sinless and qualified to pay the debt. The sins of all people throughout the millennia were somehow gathered together in some sort of cosmic transaction. The total sin debt of all mankind was laid upon the Lord Jesus Christ. He paid for them all at once through His death on the cross.

1 Peter 2:24 He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds, you are healed.

The Lord Jesus Christ took upon Himself the burden of our sin debt. Through His death, the debt was paid, and forgiveness was available for all who receive it.

All who accept Him as their Savior and Lord, can live for what is right and be dead to sin. The Father’s gift of forgiveness for our individual sin debts is life-changing. Rather than retaliation for our wrongdoing, we were offered forgiveness and the gift of life.

1 Peter 2:21-23

 21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.

 22 He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.

 23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.

Retaliation and revenge should be removed from our vocabulary once and for all. We have a higher calling. The Lord Jesus Christ refused to return evil for evil.

Instead, He prayed for His tormentors.

Luke 23:34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”

The Lord Jesus Christ is the model. Are you willing to follow in His steps? Is it a time for you to cancel all the accrued sin debts of others owed to you?

Many of you receive a copy of the Reflection in your email.

Often after it is published, I review it one more time and tweak it.

To read the most up-to-date version, please click on the title.

¯\_()_/¯ 1-29-2

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