on “Lightless Photosynthesis”) Noteworthy, too, is the fact that the process of photosynthesis is still only vaguely understood. As to pollination, even today this is not accomplished by insects alone. Many plants are self-fertilized or are pollinated by the wind. At times water serves as an agent in pollination. And, again, we must recognize our lack of knowledge as to the exact conditions prevailing on earth during the third creative “day” and the propagation of vegetation in that period.—See the book Is the Bible Really the Word of God?, pages 23-25.
God gave green vegetation to man and the animals as part of their original food supply, later expanding mankind’s diet to include meat from which the blood had been drained. (Gen. 1:29, 30; 9:3, 4) Sinful man was compelled to toil for the vegetation he ate (Gen. 3:18, 19), but Jehovah remained the Provider of it for man and beast alike, for He is the Provider of the sunshine and rain essential to its growth.—Ps. 104:14; 106:20; Mic. 5:7; Zech. 10:1; Heb. 6:7; compare Deuteronomy 32:2.
Growth of vegetation can be controlled by God according to his purpose. He assured the Israelites that their obedience would be rewarded with rain and vegetation for their domestic animals. (Deut. 11:13-15) However, if they abandoned their covenant with God, he would make their land devoid of vegetation. (Deut. 29:22-25; compare Isaiah 42:15; Jeremiah 12:4; 14:6.) One blow from Jehovah against ancient Egypt consisted of hail that struck all sorts of vegetation. In another God-sent blow, locusts devoured all the vegetation the hail had left.—Ex. 9:22, 25; 10:12, 15; Ps. 105:34, 35; compare Amos 7:1-3.
During the Palestinian dry season, vegetation, when subjected to the scorching heat of the sun or a parching east wind, quickly dries up. Accordingly, people about to be subjugated by military conquest are likened to “vegetation of the field and green tender grass, grass of the roofs, when there is a scorching before the east wind.” (2 Ki. 19:25, 26; Isa. 37:26, 27) Similarly, when severely afflicted, the psalmist exclaimed: “My heart has been struck just like vegetation and is dried up.” “I myself am dried up like mere vegetation.”—Ps. 102:4, 11.
Under favorable conditions vegetation sprouts in great profusion, making it an appropriate figure to represent numerous descendants. (Job 5:25) During Solomon’s reign, for example, “Judah and Israel were many” and flourished, “eating and drinking and rejoicing.” (1 Ki. 4:20) This is evidently alluded to in a psalm regarding Solomon: “Those who are from the city will blossom like the vegetation of the earth.” (Ps. 72:16) On the other hand, though the wicked for a time may sprout like vegetation, they are not flourishing because of God’s blessing but are in line to be “annihilated forever.”—Ps. 92:7.
In the Scriptures, trees at times represent those who are prominent and lofty (compare Ezekiel 31:2-14), whereas the lowly vegetation, like the bramble, grass or rushes, can represent people generally. (Compare Judges 9:8-15; 2 Kings 14:8-10; Isaiah 19:15; 40:6, 7.) This aids in understanding the significance of Revelation 8:7, which speaks of the burning up of a “third of the trees” and “all the green vegetation.”
[from Heb., na·qamʹ, having the primary idea of breathing forcibly; to avenge, to take vengeance; and Gr., ek·di·keʹo (ek, from, plus diʹke, justice), to avenge, to take vengeance]. Infliction of punishment in return for an injury or offense; retributive action. The word has, in its application, the suggestion of justice achieved. As used in the Bible, the term usually applies to retribution paid by God in behalf of justice, but it may also refer to one’s executing that which he may view as just, or as equalizing matters to his own satisfaction.
BELONGS TO JEHOVAH
Unless one is qualified as executioner of vengeance by appointment of Jehovah, or by being designated as such by his Word, he does wrong if he attempts to avenge himself or others. “Vengeance is mine, and retribution,” says Jehovah. (Deut. 32:35) God is addressed by the psalmist: “O God of acts of vengeance, Jehovah.” (Ps. 94:1) Accordingly, the individual is condemned by God if he bears a grudge or seeks personal vengeance for real or fancied wrongs done to himself or to someone else.—Lev. 19:18; Rom. 12:19; Heb. 10:30.
The Scriptures point out that God’s anger rests upon all sinners and transgressors, and that only through God’s undeserved kindness in providing the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ is there a basis for mitigating or withholding the full retributive justice against the sinner. (Rom. 5:19-21; 2 Cor. 5:19; Heb. 2:2, 3; see RANSOM.) God maintains his righteousness in thus forgiving sin, and also is righteous in bringing judgment upon sinners who reject his provision; such cannot escape the divine vengeance.—Rom. 3:3-6, 25, 26; compare Psalm 99:8.
Jehovah’s vengeance has a purpose
Jehovah’s vengeance brings relief and benefit when he acts in behalf of those who trust in him; additionally, it procures praise to him as the just Judge. The psalmist says: “The righteous one will rejoice because he has beheld the vengeance. . . . And mankind will say: ‘Surely there is fruitage for the righteous one. Surely there exists a God that is judging in the earth.’” (Ps. 58:10, 11) Therefore, the primary purpose for God’s taking of vengeance is to vindicate and glorify his own name and sovereignty. (Ex. 14:18; Ps. 83:13-18; Isa. 25:1-5; Ezek. 25:14, 17; 38:23) His action also vindicates his servants as being truly his representatives, as well as delivering them from undesirable circumstances.—Ex. 14:31; 15:11-16; Ezek. 37:16, 21-23; Ps. 135:14; 148:14; Prov. 21:18.
A fixed time for God’s vengeance
The Scriptures indicate that God has a due time for large-scale expressions of his vengeance upon his enemies. The prophet Isaiah was commissioned to proclaim “the day of vengeance on the part of our God.” God’s vengeance was expressed against ancient Babylon, the oppressor of his people, when the armies of Medo-Persia were used to break her power in 539 B.C.E. (Isa. 61:1, 2; 13:1, 6, 9, 17) Jesus Christ, when on earth, quoted part of Isaiah’s prophecy (61:1, 2) and applied it to himself. (Luke 4:16-21) Though the record does not say that he quoted the part concerning the “day of vengeance,” in actuality he did proclaim that “day,” which came upon Jerusalem in 70 C.E. Jesus foretold the encampment by armies (of the Romans) around the city, telling his followers to flee from Jerusalem when they saw this, “because these are days for meting out justice [literally, “days of vengeance”], that all the things written may be fulfilled.”—Luke 21:20-22, Kingdom Interlinear Translation; compare AT, AV, Ro, RS.
Jesus Christ further said, before his death and resurrection: “Concerning that day and hour [of executing judgment on the present-day system of things] nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matt. 24:36) He thereby revealed that vengeance was sure to be executed at a time known and set by God. He illustrated the sureness of God’s action in his due time in behalf of his name and his servants, speaking of a judge who, because of a widow’s persistence in asking for justice, decided: “I will see that she gets justice [literally, “I shall exact vengeance for her”].” Jesus applied the illustration to God, saying: “Certainly, then, shall not God cause justice to be done for [literally, “do the avenging of”] his chosen ones who cry out to him day and night, even though he is