I was in my 20’s when I saw Pulp Fiction for the first time; it was about 5 years after it first released. Samuel L. Jackson had one of the coolest lines in the entire movie. Standing in a room with some guys that he and John Travolta had taken hostage, guns loaded, tension high, Samuel L. Jackson (Jules Winnfield) gives his vengeance speech:

“The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who in the name of charity and goodwill shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers and you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.”

When he finishes his speech, the two main characters open fire and pompously take what they came for, leaving the room as if they were acting on the Lord’s command. Man, I love that movie.

Inside the film, the characters discuss the source of Jackson’s quote: Ezekiel 25:17. In the KJV, that verse reads like this,

“And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall lay my vengeance upon them.”

The precursors to that verse make it obvious that the writers embellished Scripture just a smidge[i]. Then again some theories suggest Jackson and Travolta were working for Satan. If that’s true taking Scripture out of context is one of the deceiver’s greatest tricks. But this post isn’t really about Pulp Fiction.

Background: Where did this idea come from

Three months ago, my family and I began going through challenge after challenge. There were legitimate lay-off scares, ICU visits, financial woes and more. We confided some uncertainties to those closest to us, but most of our friends and family knew nothing of the situation. Or, if they did, it was a superficial gloss-over; we never really let on how scary the situation was.

It was somewhere in the middle of the struggles that I pulled my wife aside, sat down next to her, and shared the calm I felt in the turmoil. I said to her, by all rights, this should be our most difficult time in life. But, God is good. I shared, I cannot explain it, but everything is going to be ok. Then my wife replied something unexpected, “I know. Me, too.”

Don’t hear me wrong, the days were long and hard. There were a lot of travel and tears (and coffee!). Carey and Nate helped cover my lacking ACL posts; mom and dad watched the kids so we could visit out-of-town family; and even amidst the uncertainties at work, both our bosses understood and supported the process.

I am very thankful to report all family members are home and well, work is going very well, and I’m still allowed to write for Clear Lens (personal thank you to each of you for the prayers and support!).

Bible coffee vengeance Ezekiel pulp fiction samuel jackson
The hardest part about letting go is finally realizing that there wasn’t much left to hold on to.

The more I sit and reflect on this time, the more I can see God in the process. I don’t mean to say that God answered our prayer because everything worked out—that’s a topic for another post. I mean to say, that in the middle of it all, we had: peace, love, patience, kindness, gentleness, and an unseen certainty.

The Tie-In: How does this relate

It really got me thinking about Pulp Fiction and the story of Ezekiel: and you will know that I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you…

I think there is a lot of truth in that statement.[ii] Matthew Henry’s Commentary explains it like this:

Though one event seem to the righteous and wicked, it is vastly different. Those who glory in any other defense and protection than the Divine power, providence, and promise, will, sooner or later, be ashamed of their glorying. Those who will not leave it to God to take vengeance for them, may expect that he will take vengeance on them. The equity of the Lord’s judgments is to be observed, when he not only avenges injuries upon those that did them, but by those against whom they were done.[iii]

See, where Pulp Fiction twists the Scripture is not just in its blatant rewording, but in the understanding of what is being said. God isn’t saying His vengeance is proof of his awesome and unlimited power. As a matter of fact, He is not boasting of his furious vengeance. Ezekiel is writing to the Jewish people who are watching the world collapse around them. There are wars and rumors of wars; mighty nations are moving to the South and North of their location.

Ezekiel is writing to them to say that those who have wronged God will get what is due to them—we all will. Vengeance is God’s not ours. But what is even more important than that, is the promise that in the midst of vengeance, you will know God. Ezekiel is saying, when pain and suffering comes—and it will come—you can find yourself cast down by the guilt and pain of carrying your own burdens, or you will bow before the Lord in reverence of His will.

Sincerely…

I share this piece with you because I really did experience God through these last several months. I want to hear from you; when things get hard, do you see a vengeful God reigning down his furious anger, or do you experience His peace? Leave a comment below and let me know—let’s talk.

[i] More like completely made up. No, I mean it; it’s not even close. See

[ii] Duh! It’s scripture

[iii] http://biblehub.com/commentaries/ezekiel/25-8.htm

19 COMMENTS

  1. This is awesome! Thanks for sharing. I’m glad you trusted in the Lord and leaned into Him. So glad to see brothers honestly seeking the Lord when times get tough. I’m always praying for the ACL team.

  2. When pain, fear and turmoil reign in my life–the peace of the Lord is clear to me. I know this moment in time will only be that-a moment and when it all passes the Lord will still be there. Whether to show comfort or share in the joy of triumph–my Lord will be there to be with me through all.

    • In looking back, it is amazing how what I worried about most didn’t happen – probably never even came close to happening. And I was oblivious to what real dangers were close at hand. But that was okay because God had me and my family protected even when I didn’t know I should be praying for protection.
      No matter what common “worldly” sense may tell us, the safest place to be is exactly at the place on the road of life where God has put us. Some of the best outcomes in life had to be arrived at by going through places we would never choose to be.
      God is good – all the time – all the time – God is good.

  3. Hi Roger

    Wow what a great post! Thank you so much for sharing. This whole post is just full of hope and peace! I honestly don’t know how people can go through pain and suffering without God. He is our Sanity :). What encourages me is that pain and suffering is a sure thing, we live in a broken world, but for the Christian suffering has purpose and we always come out better on the other side. It reminds me of Romans 5 “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us”. I am glad you and Mrs Browning are ok :).

    • Hey Jana!
      Thanks for the Romans 5 reminder. I’m always thankful for other Christians with another verse or prayer to keep these reminders coming. There is certainly a peace that I wish more people could/would experience that’s just not possible apart from God. It is, “His divine power [that] has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ…(v11) For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly supplied to you. Therefore I will always remind you about these things, even though you know them and are established in the truth you have.” 1Pet1:3-12

      Knowing people like you, Jana, are reading, engaging, and praying is a blessing in itself. Thank you, sincerely!

      • Thank you for the Scripture that you gave, I love it! It is a privilege to be able to encourage each other whether we are close or far apart 🙂 the most amazing thing about Christianity, being in unity with people you haven’t even met.

  4. Interesting that I happened to find this post. When Pulp Fiction was made, Quentin Tarantino chose a surf song from an old 60’s album my dad & his brothers wrote that was at the time a top 10 hit. After PF came out, that soundtrack went platinum. This brought such surprising popularity back to their music. It was an exciting time, they played across the US & even Germany. I’ve watched the movie a few times, however that part of Jackson mixing up the Word really disturbed me. It felt sacrilegious. You put a completely different spin on something that went right over my head at the time. I really needed this today, as my dad is in the beginning stages of Alzheimers. This trial at times seems like it will never end. But you’re right, it’s only for a season. If you can, I’d really appreciate your prayers. I’m beyond discouraged and feel like giving up, but God in all of His goodness always meets me in the mire & yanks me lovingly back up with encouragement like this article. Thank you.
    -Amy

    • Amy,
      I’m always amazed to hear how God uses ClearLens. I’m thankful this article found you in your time of need. Alzheimer’s is one of the worst diseases. I watched grandma suffer through it for years. I remember dismissing the early signs as forgetfulness. I’d say, “Oops, you left the stove on again, grandma.” But as it progressed, the whole family had to re-learn who she was. I remember the highs and lows made the unpredictability the hardest: will she remember me, will she be friendly, will she be violent? One of the funniest days in my life was when she looked at me and saw grandpa. We all laughed so hard as she tried to grab my rear and whistle at me. HA!
      I share this because it’s important to remember the good times you’ve had with dad, but also embrace the man he is now–he’s different. Alz is so hard because our eyes see the man/woman we’ve known forever, but mind is telling us this isn’t him/her. It is not an easy road you have ahead, Amy. But you don’t have to do it alone.

      You are on my prayer wall. If you’d like to share updates, or just need a place to share stories of who dad used to be/who he is becoming; I’d be glad to listen and share stories. Feel free to reach out anytime, Roger@clearlens.org.

      Praying for you and your family,

  5. Hi Amy
    My heart just went out to you when I read your post. Don’t give up. Remember in our weakness, God is strong and He will not let you go. Heb 13:5 for He has said, “I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!” This is in the context of financial difficulties, but I do believe we can apply this to any difficult circumstances we face. I will be praying for you.

    • Hello sweet Jana,
      Your response was ordained. Honestly, unless someone has gone through an experience like mine with my dad, it’s hard to empathize. You did just that. I took a screenshot so I can read it every day. I’ve always been so close to my dad, and now he’s become a very mean and hurtful person. The pain is unbearable at times, but I will keep pressing in to God’s grace. Thank you again for your prayers and kindness. God bless you ❤️

      • I am sorry this is so hard for you :(. I am glad I could help :). Hold on tight to Jesus and for your part, try to do what you know Jesus would want you to do, even if your dad is difficult towards you. God will give you grace and strength ❤ because we can’t do this by ourselves. Praying for you.

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