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Anger - Part 3/3

Last week I wrote about how God’s best for us is to trust Him to deal with all our anger, even when it feels righteous, and to repent of anger towards others and towards ourselves.

This week I want to share the lessons God has taught me about His anger, and the best antidotes to anger.

6. Does God really feel anger?

Next, I learnt about God’s anger in Numbers 11. I struggled with this passage most, because of the concept of God being angry like me, and perhaps acting out of rage, like me. How could God be exhibiting righteous and perfect anger in this situation?

Numbers 11:1 Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the Lord and the fire died down.

I feel scared of God when I read these verses. What is stopping Him from striking me down with fire when I (frequently) complain? How can I love God who kills when He is angry? I had to read around this a lot before I gained some understanding of what was happening through God’s eyes.

The people complained because they did not understand why God was leading them through a desert. They did not personally possess the spirit of God, which brings patience and faith, as this took place before Pentecost. The Israelites had entered into a covenant with God at Mount Sinai, and now God was travelling ‘with them’. But their responsibilities had grown along with this privilege, and their complaining spirit was a disappointment to God, and broke the covenant. Their complaining was unreasonable and ungrateful to God.

As they had broken the covenant, God’s anger and fire was perfectly righteous.

God isn’t angry like me, God exhibits perfect and truly righteous anger. My anger is complicated by my sinful nature.

7. Jesus protects us from God’s righteous anger

The phrase “Fear the Lord” had always worried me. Especially when I read passages like this from Psalm 2

Psalm 2:11 Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. 

But God revealed to me again that “Fear the Lord” is referring to His righteous anger, and this passage also revealed that Jesus’ sacrifice protects us from God’s righteous anger. I don’t need to be scared of God’s anger when I accept the sacrifice of Jesus. God sent Jesus through his mercy, because He wants to forgive us.

 

Antidotes to anger

Psalm 77  When I was in distress, I sought the Lord….Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. I will remember the deeds of the Lord…. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds. 

Many of the psalms teach us that we might feel angry or sad about things that have happened, but when we remember God’s love for us in the past, and are thankful and praise Him for the good around us, our negative emotions start to change into joy.

I learnt that the best antidote to anger is thankfulness and praise. This brings us to see God’s love for us in a situation and leads us to repentance.

I have still been angry at times since last year. But I have also been much quicker to turn to God when I feel anger, and this has led to a calmer me, causing less pain to those around me through my anger. Thank you for reading these blogs, and I pray God has revealed more of himself as you have read.

Rachel Holt
2nd October 2018

Anger - Part 3/3

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Anger - Part 2/3

Last week I wrote about how anger comes from a place of pain and how if we seek God’s healing when we feel anger, then we are less likely to spread that pain to others. Also that anger can be a way in for demonic strongholds, but the emotion of anger isn’t a sin if we repent.

This week I want to share a few more lessons God has taught me, about righteous anger, repentance and anger with ourselves.

3. Anger may be righteous, but God’s best is still for us to trust Him with it

I learnt about what Gods plan is when we experience righteous anger, from Exodus 32, where Moses descends from Mount Sinai to find the Israelites worshipping the golden calf.

Exodus 32:17-34 When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain…..So Moses went back to the Lord and said “Oh what a great sin these people have committed! But now, please forgive their sin – but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written”. The Lord replied to Moses “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book”.

So, even though Moses is feeling righteous anger, and feels he should take responsibility for the sin as the leader, God doesn’t want him to do that. God’s reply shows that Moses can leave God to deal with it. God wants us to let him deal with the anger and its cause, whether the anger is unrighteous, or righteous. God is just, we must trust Him to see that justice is done, even if that isn’t until God’s kingdom comes. God’s best path to justice is often not clear to us during our anger, and God can bring good out of pain in unexpected ways. Leave room for God to be just.

4. Jesus reveals anger towards others must lead to repentance

In Matthew 5, Jesus helps us to understand how we disobey God when we do not repent of anger.

Matthew 5:21 You have heard that it was said to the people long ago ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to my judgement’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or a sister will be subject to judgement. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’…. ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

In this passage the Hebrew uses the word Raca, which can be translated as fool, and was a severe slander in their society, a character “assassination”. Jesus judges this as severely as murder itself, he sees the heart of someone who calls others names, and knows they are expressing a lack of respect and love towards the person. Since one of God’s greatest commandments is to love others, not repenting after we think angry thoughts about them, is a sin.

5. Anger with ourselves

In Genesis 45, Joseph’s brothers are called into his presence, not knowing he is their brother.

Genesis 45:4-7 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you….So then it was not you who sent me here, but God”. Joseph points out to his brothers that instead of getting stuck in a place of anger at themselves, they should rejoice in God’s power to bring good out of bad.

I learnt from this that when we have sinned, God’s best is for us to bring it to him, repent, and trust in his power to bring good from the situation. God’s best for us is not to hold onto anger with ourself, falsely believing that God will only forgive us if we are suffering, rather than letting Jesus’ suffering bring forgiveness.

Parts 3/3 will be up next week

Rachel Holt
25th September 2018

Anger - Part 2/3

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Anger - Part 1/3

Hi, my name is Rachel, I’m part of The Oak, am married to Ray and have two daughters.

Within the last year, I have had to take a few months off work with stress. This is the first time it has happened, and it was a shock for me that I got to a point where I couldn’t go to work.  “What has that got to do with anger?” you might ask. Well, after a period of unbearable agitation and prayer, God revealed to me that the root of my stress was anger.  “I am angry with my colleagues and my workplace, they haven’t appreciated me, I care about this problem more than they seem to. This is righteous anger, God! I am right to feel angry.”  So, for a couple of weeks, I wallowed in my righteous anger, was grumpy and irritable with the people I love, and wrote down all the things I felt angry about.

And then… God challenged me to see anger through His eyes, to study anger in the Bible, by reading verses and reading commentaries on them. I wanted to share what He taught me because He asked me to.  So here are 8 things God has been teaching me.

1. Anger comes from a place of pain and we can seek God’s healing when we feel anger

Genesis 30:1-2 When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” Jacob became angry with her and said “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?” Then she said, “Here is Bilhah, my servant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and I too can build a family through her.” 

Rachel is understandably frustrated and speaks to Jacob out of her anger. They then work out a plan.  I’m not sure it was God’s best plan for them as Rachel didn’t give God a chance to intervene before she and Jacob acted on her anger.

Anger expressed and acted upon before being shared with God often leads to more anger and hurt.

Because we live in a fallen world, rejection by those we love and trust occurs, usually unknowingly, from a very young age for all of us.  It causes deep pain and wounds in our hearts. We subconsciously fear further rejection, often in ways specific to us, and feel strong emotions, such as anger, when those subconscious fears are triggered. The root of the emotions may be hidden to us, but God is gentle with us and time with Him allows His Holy Spirit to reveal them. God also heals this pain when we accept His unconditional love.  But the fears can often be triggered again in the future, so we must keep returning to Him, asking for His help and accepting His love.

We can learn to treat strong emotions, such as anger, as a useful prompt to go straight to God for healing of the underlying pain.

2. Anger can be a way in for demonic strongholds, but the emotion isn’t a sin if we repent

Genesis 4:5b-7 So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

Cain chooses to live in discontent after experiencing rejection, and because he doesn’t let go of the feeling, and repent, his anger is a way in for demonic strongholds.  Straight after this comes the passage where he kills his brother, indicating that Cain did not heed God’s warning but acted to spread the pain. These verses send a shiver down my spine, this sounds like me, wallowing in my “righteous” anger!

The sin is not the feeling of anger, frustration, irritation or impatience. The sin is failing to take that feeling to God and letting him deal with it and heal your pain.

Parts 2/3 will be up next week

Rachel Holt
18th September 2018

Anger - Part 1/3

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