Exodus 34:6, Psalm 103:8, Psalm 145:8, Psalm 86:15, Joel 2:13
I’m not surprised you visited this page? It’s a good question and it needs a serious answer. Is God angry with you? Have you ever felt like God has it out for you? Well, the good news of a sort is it’s not you. Well, it is, but let me explain…
The truth is that God is angry at all sin, and the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Well, there we go; have a nice day!
It does get better though, much better. The overwhelming good news is that God is a God of love (1 John 4:8) and mercy (Ephesians 2:4-5). This unsearchable, and immeasurable love stands in stark contrast to His anger against sin, and is itself the antidote to that anger. Let’s be clear though, it wasn’t anger that caused God to intervene in history, but unconditional love; He loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us (John 3:16).
God loves us so much that He is continually working to draw us to Himself and is why He sent the Holy Spirit to live within us (Romans 8:1).
To appreciate the change and transformation that has happened for us as we follow Christ we have to consider the Person who has ransomed, healed, restored and forgiven us.
To appreciate the change and transformation that has happened for us as we follow Christ we have to consider the Person who has ransomed, healed, restored and forgiven us. What is so special about God, that allows for us never to face His fearful wrath and anger?
The character of God
Trying to describe the character of God is overwhelming. The bible says that his ways are higher than our ways and his thoughts higher than our thoughts. He is infinite and perfect. He is the Creator of Heaven and Earth. But what makes God so perfect, so wonderful, so amazing, is his character.
When the people who under the inspiration of the Spirit wrote the bible contemplated the mystery of God, they consistently described his character like this; compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and full of loyal love and faithfulness. He is the ultimate example of the most infinitely loving thing imaginable.
There is an interesting tension that exists in the bible with regards to the idea of God’s anger. When you read the bible and see what God does, you would think that he is mostly angry, striking people down for their sins. The reality is that his anger in the bible is way more nuanced than that.
Long of nose!
While the English version of the Bible is filled with all sorts of beautiful language and metaphors, sometimes the Hebrew version is even more creative… and funny! In Hebrew, the expression “slow to anger” is pronounced “erik apayam” or literally “long of nose”, but what does a long nose have to do with God’s patience? In biblical Hebrew, one way to say someone is angry is to say “their nose is burned hot!”
In the story of Joseph, when Potiphar thinks that Joseph tried to sleep with his wife his nose burned hot. It’s usually translated “his anger burned.” To the modern mind, this idea of burning anger is very foreign. If we hear someone say “I’m burning with anger,” we picture a loud, wild person. But from an ancient perspective, a burning nose is normal. It describes how your body, especially your face, heats up when you’re angry, and so in Hebrew anger is also called “nose,” “heat,” or “hot nose.”
On the other hand, someone with great patience is called ‘long of nose’. It takes a long time for their nose to get hot like in the biblical proverb. It is their long nose — that is, their slow anger — that defines their wisdom.
These metaphors are based on our experience of hot anger to describe how God feels when he witnesses human evil, just as you might get angry if you observe a child being bullied on the playground. So God gets angry when humans oppress each other and ruin his world.
Anger and love
The bible describes God’s angry response as an expression of his love for the world, but he is slow to anger, which means he gives people ample time to change. It’s a subject which has been argued about for centuries. Most of the anger people see in God is actually their own personal reaction to God. As their (unfounded) anger toward God grows, so does their distance from God.
God has a plan for each of us if we are willing to follow his will and his guidance.
Have you ever had a job, friendship or situation that got in the way of your faith? Have you ever had to choose between your job and your walk with God or been in a spot where you weren’t sure what to do? God has a plan for each of us if we are willing to follow his will and his guidance.
This is clearly seen in the life of Israel and their upcoming leader and hero of their faith, Moses. Prior to the exodus, when Pharaoh has enslaved the Israelites and thrown their babies into the waters, God sends Moses to confront him.
In response to Moses’ plea for Israel’s release, accompanied by ten plagues and judgements, Pharaoh eventually succumbed to Moses’ request, riding out with his chariots to destroy the Israelites, only for his army to be destroyed by God in the water. Pharaoh’s own evil has been turned back upon him – a demonstrable act of intense anger from God.
That sounds intense, but God would not be good if he didn’t finally do something about Pharaoh’s evil.
You did it – you pay for it…
In the Scriptures, you can see how God’s anger is expressed through making Pharaoh bear the consequences of his own actions, and that is how God expresses his anger in the narrative of the Israelites betraying the God who saved them for hundreds of years over and over again.
There seems to be no turning away from the false gods of other nations, despite many chances to turn around, change their hearts and follow Him. In response, we read that a ‘hot anger’ of God burned against the Israelites and what followed was that God delivered them to their enemies.
In his just anger, God gives them what they want as those nations circle back and defeat Israel, because they wanted to serve the gods of other nations.
Starting to see the solution
This is very similar to what the apostle Paul says in his letter to the Romans when he says God’s anger is being revealed against human evil, and then three times he says what that looks like. It is a very sobering thought.
Paul said God lets people live according to their destructive desires and decisions even if death is a result, but he also says God is patient, assuring people that they can come to their senses and change.
Why? Because God’s anger is a response to human evil, it is a reflection of a deeper trait he has: compassion and loyalty. God is not content to let people sit in their own self-destruction in the bible; God is on a critical mission to rescue. This is why Jesus said that he was going to Jerusalem to die.
God’s love revealed
As a demonstration of God’s love for his enemies, he would stand in the place of his people who were choosing self-destruction and take the full, terrible consequences of their decisions upon himself. In Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, we see God’s anger against evil, and his love for people working together to provide forgiveness, reconciliation and life for a humanity that is lost and self-ruined. Humanity had sabotaged its own relationship with God.
And so, it is apparent that God’s anger in the bible is significant, but by no means the end of the story. When God is angry and brings justice, it’s because he’s good, and he’s extremely patient, working out his plan to restore people to his love.
You can’t make God love you more, and you can’t make Him love you less!
That’s what it means, to say that God is slow to anger – and how necessary and complete the work of the Cross. With that understanding we can fully begin to appreciate that nothing can seperate us from the love of God in Christ. God has done it all, and at Calvary, satisfied His anger and His justice in the death, resurrection and ascesension of His Son Jesus for His people.
As the old saying goes, “You can’t make God love you more, and you can’t make Him love you less!”
Have a nice day!