The God of Anger and Wrath: An Analysis of God’s Rarely Told Personality
Many Christians are not comfortable with the idea that God can and does get angry. They feel that is not the true nature of God. They don't want to admit God can be anything else than what they have been conditioned to believe or what they've forced themselves to believe in. They believe the God of Old Testament is not the same God of the New Testament. The God of O.T. is portrayed as cruel, unforgiving, ruthless, unmerciful, ready to punish, and possibly not good at reasoning with.
In effect, many Christians have opted to stick with the good part of God: loving, caring, understanding, generous, kind, merciful, ready to help, mighty, awesome and other positive attributes attributed to Him. It is true God is everything good and mighty. Even so, why won't Christians accept God has feelings too? Why won't they admit God does feel hurt? Why won't they come to the knowledge God can feel happy and sad? Why won't they admit God is a just being who doesn't tolerate evil or wickedness?
Man in the Image of God
Man is made in the image of God. We have the personality of God in us. We can think and reason like God. We have the ability to differentiate between good and bad; consequently we can choose to do good or bad.
Furthermore, we can feel a number of emotions depending on a certain condition that has influenced us to feel a certain way. Since we're made in the image of God, whatever we feel is what God feels. The differentiating feature is how we factor in the emotions we feel, mostly the emotions we've come to term as negative due to their nature.
How we act when we faced with an undesirable situation differentiates us from God. We are prone to act negatively when faced with an unattractive situation which is opposite to the holy nature of God. His holy nature makes Him a good candidate for a judge's seat because He is perfect in all ways, lacking nothing.
While we accept the fact God is loving and caring, we don't want to acknowledge God can feel anything else. We have turned Him into a puppet, a robot, the imaginable Santa Claus, a god we have created in our minds. It's time we acknowledge God does have feelings since He is a person in Godly nature.
The Other Face of God
God wants to be intimate with us. He wants to have a close relationship with His creation. It is something we also long - to have an intimate relationship with our Creator. Thus, we should stop sifting, choosing what we want to believe and leaving out what we don't want to believe about God.
The Bible clearly states God can and does get angry. This theme is evident both in the O.T and N.T. When it comes to God's anger, we make a mistake of comparing it to a man's anger. Additionally we forget anger is not a negative emotion. It becomes negative when we let it take hold of our minds affecting our reasoning or judgment.
In fact, the Bible advises/warns us that we should not let anger take control of our being. When we do so we commit a sin. "In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry." (New International Version). The King James Version states, "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath."
It's not evil to get angry. It is a normal emotional reaction to something unpleasant. The negativity arises in how we deal with the anger.
According to Medical News Today, anger is a natural or normal human emotions but "when it gets out of control it can become destructive, leading to serious problems at work and on personal relationships. It can undermine a person's quality of life."
Furthermore, it's stated, "When anger turns into rage, it can impair judgment and thinking, making people more likely to do and say unreasonable and irrational things."
In the Book of Romans, Apostle Paul tells the Roman Christians that the O.T was written to warn us or teach us a lesson. Which lesson? We should not provoke God into anger as was the case with Israelite. In the N.T we are warned not to try God's patience. When you try someone's patience, you want to find out how far that person can stay calm. In the O.T the Israelites were notorious in trying God's patience.
Whenever they turned their back against God, they would be handed into the hands of their enemies. In the Book of Deuteronomy, we learn how the Israelite made God angry numerous times. Moses warns the Israelite to listen to God - obey Him as they head to the Promised Land, Canaan. Why should they obey God? Because God knows what is best for us. He wants us to walk in the right path. As a matter of fact, Jesus encourages us to be perfect as our heavenly father is. We are advised to be like God so that we can live the life God has always wanted us to.
"Don't you remember (oh, never forget it!) how continually angry you made the Lord your God out in the wilderness, from the day you left Egypt until now? For all this time you have constantly rebelled against him. Don't you remember how angry you made him at Mount Horeb? He was ready to destroy you... How I feared for you--for the Lord was ready to destroy you. But that time, too, he listened to me. Again at Taberah and once again at Massah you angered the Lord, and yet again at Kibroth-hattaavah. At Kadesh-barnea, when the Lord told you to enter the land he had given you, you rebelled and wouldn't believe that he would help you; you refused to obey him. Yes, you have been rebellious against the Lord from the first day I knew you. That is why I fell down before him for forty days and nights when the Lord was ready to destroy you..."
The Israelite provoked God into anger by worshiping idols, murmuring and complaining, and doubting God would help them. God was repelled by their behavior - it infuriated Him. They disobeyed God numerous times but He was patient with them. When He told Moses He wanted to destroy all of them except him, in the wilderness, Moses pleaded with Him through prayer and fasting to spare them because His patience had run out.
There's one important fact Moses uttered that's significant to note.
"It is not at all because you are such fine, upright people that the Lord will drive them out from before you! I say it again, it is only because of the wickedness of the other nations, and because of his promises to your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that he will do it.
I say it yet again: Jehovah your God is not giving you this good land because you are good, for you are not--you are a wicked, stubborn people."
God's Anger & Wrath
The reason Israelite were successful in destroying other nations is because of the magnitude of wickedness that was exhibited by such nations. Their evil extended to the point God couldn't stand up to their wickedness anymore. This was the case with the people of Israel. Whenever they rebelled against God, they would face the consequences of their rebellion.
Got Questions notes, "The context of the verses of God getting angry reveals why He gets angry. God gets angry when there is violation of His character. God is righteous, just, and holy, and none of these attributes can be compromised..."
Additionally it is stated, "So God gets angry at the wickedness in people, and He opposes that wickedness in an effort to turn them from evil, that they may find true life and freedom in Him. Even in His anger, God's motivation is love for people, to restore the relationship that sin destroyed."
As a righteous judge, God has to see to it that justice prevails at all times. God isn't pleased with the death of wicked as stated in Ezekiel 33:11-20. "Tell them: 'As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; I desire that the wicked turn from his evil ways and live..."
God doesn't delight in evil, nor does He delight in the death of wicked people. He wants us to do what is right, to walk in the path of light, to follow the leadings of His Spirit. This is for our own good.
When a child acts negatively, the child's parent will shout at him to stop that act. If the child continues with that behavior, then the parent will discipline him to reinforce in his mind that behavior isn't justified. Why would the parent discipline his/her child? To reinforce in his mind that act is not good for it will have negative ramifications in his later life as he grows up. It's for the benefit of the child, not the parent.
Bible.org notes that God's wrath is part and parcel of his judgment against wrongdoing, injustice and evil. It's stated, "...God expressing wrath is not like a human losing his temper. God does not flash with anger and throw an unsuspecting, nearby angel across the universe before God can think straight. "Sorry, I lost my temper! I reacted without thinking!"" No, he does not lash out. This is crude literalism and human-centred thinking.
Rather, God would not be the God of justice if he let the wrongs slide by undealt with, just like a parent would be derelict if she let her children get away with everything. Her giving them a timeout or even a spanking without losing her temper is a (weak) equivalent to God's perfect, unmistakable, error-free wrath."
God instituted justice before the laying of the foundation of the world. The world's governments aren’t just and perfect as the heavenly government, but it's a reflection of God's government.
Another fact to ponder is that God is slow to anger. If He was quick tempered as many Christians depict Him in the O.T, none of us would be alive. He would have wiped the world clean of sin and created a new world with probability of a new species of human beings. This can be clearly explained in the Old Testament.
When the angels of God sinned with the women of Earth, evil was magnified to an extent God couldn't tolerate it anymore. During that time, only one man was righteous - Noah. God told Noah to build an ark that would house the different species of animals together with his family. While building the ark, he would plead with people to repent of their sins and stop committing wickedness. Instead, the people laughed at him. They thought it funny and absurd.
God Gets Angry
It took a considerable length of time before God wiped the world clean of its wickedness. He doesn't react immediately as tends to be the case with humans. He is slow to anger. "Jehovah is kind and merciful, slow to get angry, full of love." (Psalms 145:8)
In an article titled, 'Slow To Anger, Quick To Wrath,' Tim Charles notes that God's anger refers to the attitude God has towards His creation while His wrath refers to the ways He acts out that attitude. "In this sense we can affirm both: God is slow to become angry, as he tells Moses on Mt. Sinai (and repeats throughout the scripture)...But after he is angered, his wrath, means through which that anger is manifested, can be kindled quickly."
Therefore, it implies "...The fact that God is slow to anger means that there is time and opportunity for us to repent of our sin. The fact he is quick to wrath guards us against presuming upon his mercy and prolonging our rebellion."
In the New Testament, we are told it's a fearful thing to fall in the hands of God. Why? It is only God who has the capability or power to destroy a human’s body and soul in hell. In other words, no other being is able to ‘kill’ a man’s spirit and soul which are immortal except God. We are encouraged not to fear earthly people because they cannot kill our soul. Fear Him who can kill both your body and soul in hell.
Hebrew 10:26-31: "...For we know him who said, "Justice belongs to me; I will repay them"; who also said, "The Lord himself will handle these cases."
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
Mathew 10:26-28: "But don't be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when the truth will be revealed: their secret plots will become public information. What I tell you now in the gloom, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ears, proclaim from the housetops! Don't be afraid of those who can kill only your bodies--but can't touch your souls! Fear only God who can destroy both soul and body in hell."
It's evident from Jesus' utterances that the God of O.T is the same God of N.T who never changes. Through the prophets of old, God prophesied the birth of Jesus, his ministry, death and resurrection. In addition, He prophesied events that would occur in the last days including the Great Judgment and the fate of those who refuse to accept His offer.
Many Christians don't want to accept a good God can create hell to send wicked people or those who reject God's plan to burn there for ages to come. What we should remember is that God created hell specifically for Satan and his followers. But, since man consists of soul and spirit that are immortal - cannot die - then those who reject God's offer will wind up in hell.
God's final wrath will be revealed during the Great Judgment when Satan and all those who have chosen to follow him or continuously commit wickedness will end up therein with him. This is not debatable. Whether a Christian chooses to accept this or not, Jesus was clear about it, the apostles made it clear and Christians who have received visions of hell have reiterated it.
We have to accept a just God can't and won't let people commit evil and get away with. If that was the case He wouldn't be a God at all. What would have become of our world if God chose to ignore whatever was happening on Earth?
Your Take: God's Anger
Do you think God can and does get angry?
It broke God's heart to see the extent of man's wickedness during Noah's time. It pained Him. Think about it. It hurts God when people don't acknowledge Him. It pains Him when people treat others badly. Think of all the evil in the world and how you would feel towards a woman who has been gang raped. Now, picture God with a big flat screen in front of Him watching the evils committed and try to imagine how it feels. If it was a human being in His position, what would be his/her reaction? How would you react if you were God?
The Bible continually emphasizes God is patient. One of the characteristics of love is that it’s patient as indicated in the New Testament. The same New Testament says God is patient because He doesn’t want anyone to perish. As we are aware of in our lives, patience has its limit. When God's patience runs out, His wrath will be felt by those who have refused to acknowledge Him and accept His offer as expounded in the Book of Revelation.