God’s Furious Anger

“God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day” (Ps. 7:11).

- Psalm 7:11-13

Anger is certainly one theme we find running throughout the story of Jacob. Whether evident in Esau’s hatred of Jacob (Gen. 27:41), Rachel’s demand of her husband (30:1), Laban’s pursuit of Jacob (31:17–35), or Jacob’s words to Laban (vv. 36–42), anger, just and unjust, characterizes how these individuals relate to one another. This gives us an opportunity to explore what the Bible says about this topic using the teaching series Anger by Dr. R.C. Sproul.

Iram Dei placare, meaning “to placate the wrath of God,” is a Latin phrase used by the early Reformers. It encapsulates the traditional Christian belief that Jesus satisfied God’s wrath against sinners on the cross. We find this teaching in Scripture where we read that Christ has made propitiation for His people (Rom. 3:21–25; Heb. 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 4:10). At Calvary, Jesus offered Himself as an atoning sacrifice, removing our guilt (expiation) and turning the Father’s wrath away from us (propitiation), enabling Him to be favorable to us again.

Unfortunately this is a foreign concept today because many in the modern American church do not believe God displays wrath, let alone gets angry. However, if the Lord did not get angry at sin, we could not affirm the other biblical teachings about His righteousness, goodness, or holiness. If He was not wrathful toward the unjust, these character traits would be hollow indeed.

We can only understand the rightness or wrongness of human anger in light of the Lord’s anger. Yet, in affirming that He does get angry, we must not ascribe our imperfections to the Creator. God’s anger is never irrational, but ours can be. He is not prone to “fly off the handle” or throw a temper-tantrum. The Lord does not get tired and irritable, nor is He ever sadistic. His anger is always righteous, because He is always righteous (Ps. 97:6).

Moreover, today’s passage says God is angry at the wicked “every day.” But in many ways, anger is not a strong enough word. He is actually furious, as we should understand the Greek text of Romans 1:18. Were the Lord not graciously slow to manifest this anger fully (Num. 14:18), no sinner could live for even a second.

Coram Deo

Christians can sometimes think that the Lord is “out to get us.” Yet though our sin as believers will incur His displeasure and His discipline (Heb. 12:3–11), Jesus has made propitiation for all who trust Him alone for salvation, and therefore, God’s wrath is not upon the believer. But if you have not trusted Christ, do not imagine that the Father’s patience toward you means He is not angry with you. Believing on Jesus is your only hope to avert this anger.

Passages for Further Study

Prov. 11:23
Hos. 11:8–9
John 3:36
1 Thess. 5:8–10

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