What does it mean to vindicate when used in the Bible? What does this mean to the believer and the non-believer?
A definition of vindication means the act of vindicating something or someone and this means to clear, as from an accusation, an imputation, a suspicion, or the like as in the case of vindicating someone’s honor whose name and reputation has been slandered or false accusations have been made against them. The word vindicate has a similar meaning within the context of where it is found in Scriptures and for those who God is vindicating, it’s great news but for those who the Lord directs His vindication toward, it is the worst of news possible.
Vindicating God’s Holy Name
God has said in His Word that “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” (Ex 20:7) and repeats this warning in multiple places in the Bible such as in Deuteronomy 5:12 where it is written “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” This is what He means in Ezekiel 36:22-24 “Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land.” Today, God’s name is customarily used in euphemistic ways such as “Oh my God” and in the most profane way possible in abbreviation as “OMFG” even though His name is to be revered and is most holy. Jesus’ name is also blasphemed on a regular basis and this is what taking His name in vain means; in an unthinking, useless, and careless way. Another example is where many use “damn” as God’s last name in their profanity even after repeated warnings from Scripture that “the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” Sadly, the vast majority of people in the world take no heed to this warning.
The Holy treated Profanely
When God allowed Israel to be taken into captivity as a way to bring them back into a relationship with Him He inspired Ezekiel to write why, “when I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them from their enemies’ lands, and through them have vindicated my holiness in the sight of many nations” (39:27). The same reason was given in the above paragraph in Ezekiel 36:22-24. Isaiah writes to Israel in speaking for God “He who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who is my adversary? Let him come near to me” (Isaiah 50:8).
God Will Vindicate His People
I get called about every name in the book because I write articles about the Christian faith and the Bible. That’s okay with me because those who persecute me actually bless me although they don’t even know it. That’s fine with me because I’m in pretty good company as Jesus said “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt 5:11-12). This shouldn’t surprise any Christian brother or sister because Jesus told us ahead of time that “A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20) so “When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it” (1 Cor 4:12) and “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2nd Tim 3:12). I trust God with all of this as Paul wrote in Romans 12:19 “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord” and “The LORD is a God who avenges. O God who avenges, shine forth” (Psalm 94:1). The author of Hebrews writes “For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people” (Heb 10:30). In due time “the Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants, when he sees that their power is gone and there is none remaining, bond or free” (Duet 32:36).
Vindication is not up to us. We must trust God and wait for Him to execute justice for He surely will. It is not for us to take vengeance on those who hate us and persecute us. We know that God will vindicate His people but it will be in His time, not ours. Even among those who profane His holy name He “will not hold him (or her) guiltless who takes his name in vain,” of that you can be 100% certain.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon.