God is not an angry God. The Lord Jesus is not an angry savior. Nevertheless, they do, at times, become angry. Why?
Unlike us, who can sometimes become angry without even knowing why, God and Jesus have very consistent reasons for becoming angry. Time and again during Israel’s wilderness wanderings, the record states that God’s anger flared up against Israel (Numbers 11:1; Deuteronomy 6:15; 29:27). Each time this is stated, the reason is clear: God’s people had sinned against Him. Sometimes the sin was complaining about His provision and refusing to believe that He could fulfill His promise:
Numbers 32:9-13 For when they went up to the Valley of Eshcol and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the people of Israel from going into the land that the LORD had given them. 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.’ And the LORD’s anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in the sight of the LORD was gone.
Other times, the sin was worshiping the gods of the other nations:
Deuteronomy 7:3-4 You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the LORD would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly.
In the case of the Lord Jesus, the record very clearly states the reason for his anger:
Mark 3:5 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.
In all of these instances, God’s anger and Jesus’s anger are prompted by unfaithfulness. We may become angry because a situation didn’t work out the way that we wanted it to––or simply because someone did something that we found “annoying.” We might overflow with anger over the person in front of us who drives “too slow” or over the meal that wasn’t quite what we wanted it to be. But such is not God’s anger. James puts it succinctly:
James 1:19-20 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
Our anger is very different than God’s anger. And thus, we must seek to put our anger away. We need to reframe our feelings about that thing that might really annoy us. We need to calm down when driving, or when things don’t work out how we expected. Following God means that the wrath of man has no place in our thinking.
Instead, God had righteous anger.
Yet what does righteous anger look like in us? How do we, as those who aren’t perfect, like God and the Lord Jesus, demonstrate anger against sin?
That, Lord willing, will be the consideration of our next post.
— Jason Hensley