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.