Posted on Nov 19, 2020 by Mike LeDuke
“And the LORD’s anger was kindled on that day, and he swore, saying, ‘Surely none of the men who came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, because they have not wholly followed me, none except Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have wholly followed the LORD’” (Numbers 32:10-12).
God became angry over the people’s sin. They didn’t trust Him and they accused Him of bringing them out of Egypt, only to be killed by the giants in the Promised Land (Numbers 14:3). This anger is clearly justified. Numerous times in Scripture, God becomes angry over sin. Sometimes, He delivers consequences for that sin.
In the Gospels, there is one account in which it is said that Jesus was angry:
“And he said to the man with the withered hand, ‘Come here.’ And he said to them, ‘Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?’ But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was restored” (Mark 3:3-5). The parallel accounts, Matthew 12:9-14 and Luke 6:6-11, are similar.
In another instance, when Jesus cast out the moneychangers from the Temple, it’s probably safe to infer that Jesus was angry. Both of these times, he was angry over sin and stubbornness. (see Matthew 21:12; Mark 11:15; and John 2:14,15)
In considering these instances, we can say with certainty that both God and Jesus become angry. What, though, does this mean for us? If we then are meant to be like Jesus, shouldn’t we do the same? Shouldn’t we also see sin and feel our anger kindled because of it?
First, it’s perhaps crucial to consider how God sees Himself. While He does become angry over sin, it is essential to note that He never describes Himself as an angry God. He has wrath and He has anger––and sometimes that wrath and anger are targeted at people and nations (Psalm 78:59; Ezekiel 22:31). But He is not an angry God. Instead, He describes Himself as “slow to anger” (Exodus 34:6).
The same is true of the Lord Jesus. While he became angry, anger is not what characterized his ministry. He didn’t look in wrath upon the crowds. He didn’t condemn the world in frustration as he hung on the cross. Instead, anger is used to describe his feelings once.
Therefore, in understanding where anger fits into our own lives, we can recognize that while God does become angry, and while Jesus became angry, this anger is not an emotion that characterizes them. God does not want to be known as an angry God. Jesus is not an angry savior.
So then, if anger is not a large part of their character, then what is it? Why does it happen? And what does that mean for us and our own anger?
Lord willing, we’ll consider these questions in the next post.
— Jason Hensley