Anger is a provoked, defensive emotion which can be lawfully expressed through just punishment/correction and self-defense, or it can be unwisely suppressed and turned into bitterness. Violence is a willful, destructive action which unlawfully deprives another of life, well-being, or property. Just because God is "slow to anger", doesn't mean He never becomes angry. "God is angry with the wicked every day. (Ps 7:11b)" God demonstrates His anger righteously to defend His Person, and He has done no violence (Isaiah 53:9).
Genesis 6:5-7 "And God saw that the wickedness of man was
great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart
was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man
on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will
destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and
beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth
me that I have made them."
Repented is nacham in Hebrew; meaning to be sorry, console oneself, repent, regret, comfort; to be sorry, be moved to pity, have compassion, suffer grief, or to ease oneself.
Grieved is 'atsab in Hebrew; meaning hurt, pain, displease, vex, wrest, torture; or to shape, fashion, make, form, stretch into shape, or to worship.
God was well pleased with His creation until Adam and Eve sinned against Him. Mankind's continuous evil made Him sorry He ever created us in the first place. We didn't turn out the way He had hoped. It was not God's will that mankind should become so evil. Our evil causes Him great pain to the extent that He would destroy His own creation which no longer reflected, but rejected, His Image.
In the following verses God's anger ('aph in Hebrew; meaning nostril, nose, face; or anger) is kindled (charah in Hebrew; meaning to be hot, furious, burn, become angry, be incensed or to heat oneself in vexation) against those who: complain, make excuses, oppose godly leadership, spread lies to dissuade people from obedience, are reckless in service, become one with idolaters, refuse God's gifts, and disobey His commands and break covenant with Him.
In Exodus 4:14 God is angry at Moses' excuses not to speak for God, so He makes Aaron his mouthpiece. God gives a command in Exodus 22:22-24 not to take advantage of widows or orphans, because those who do will become widows and orphans at the Lord's hand.
In Numbers chapter 11 God's anger is kindled against the Israelites' complaining, and He sends a fire which consumes the outskirts of the camp. It is halted with Moses' prayer. Then Moses' complains about the burden of the people being too much for him, and God provides seventy elders. God sends them quail for a month until they loathed it. And while it was in their mouths, He struck out against them with a plague. In Numbers chapter 12, Aaron and Miriam oppose Moses' leadership. In anger the Lord departs from them (leaves in a huff), leaving Miriam leprous for seven days. Sickness and death remain signs of God's judgment (Acts 5:1-10 and 1 Corinthians 11:27-34).
In Numbers 14 the ten spies who gave a bad report of Canaan incited the people to rebel and return to Egypt. God tells Moses He will destroy them and make Moses into a greater and stronger nation, but Moses dissuades God reminding Him of His reputation and His Name (v 18); and God forgives them, but refuses to bring the adults into the promised land. Even God was willing to receive wise counsel to direct His anger, and He has given us an example.
In Numbers 22:22 God is angry with Balaam, and sends his Angel to oppose him, because his way is reckless (v 32). In Numbers 25:1-4 the Lord's anger burns against the people who prostituted themselves with Moab's gods and women. God orders the Israelites to kill and expose in broad daylight the leaders of those who did this. In Numbers 32:1-15 God is angry at the Reubenites and Gadites who do not want to enter the promised land, so God makes the Israelites wander in the desert forty years, so that only Caleb and Joshua and the children enter the land.
In Deuteronomy 6:15 and 7:4, God's anger will destroy them if they disobey His commands. God's anger seems dependent upon how God's people act (Deut. 13:17). In Deuteronomy 9:13-29, the Israelites make a golden calf to worship, and Moses' prayers keep God from destroying them. Note in verse 14, God tells Moses to leave Him alone so that He can destroy them and make a new nation out of Moses' seed. God just wants to vent His wrath and not listen to Moses' reasons. Also note verse 22 where Moses recounts the other places at which God displayed His anger toward them.
In Deuteronomy 29:17-29 God brought curses against the land and uprooted His people from the land because they broke covenant with Him. Note in verse 20, an idolater who thinks he's fooled God will never be forgiven by God, and will receive all the curses of the Bible as well.
John 2:11-17 "This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana
of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed
on him. After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his
brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days. And
the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, And found
in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers
of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove
them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out
the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that
sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house
of merchandise. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal
of thine house hath eaten me up."
Zeal is zelos in Greek; meaning heat, envy, indignation, ardor, or jealousy. Jesus sat and made a whip.
Driving out the merchandisers was not a temper tantrum, but a premeditated expression of righteous jealousy for His Father's house; a physical protest against desecrating the holy place in which His Spirit rested. The last verse is a quote from the Messianic Psalm 69. The "den of thieves" is in reference to Jeremiah 7 on false religion, wherein the quote lies.
The first time Jesus clears the temple is in His first week of His ministry, and then He clears it again during His last week of ministry; both times were just prior to Passover. Jesus was ridding His House of leaven, as Jews were commanded to do (Ex. 12:14-20). Between these cleansings of the temple, Jesus tells the Jews the parable of the barren fig tree (Luke 13:6-9). The Jews knew that the fruit produced in the fourth year was to be a holy offering of praise unto the Lord (Leviticus 19:23-25). As Jesus began His short fourth year of ministry in the land of Israel, it's no wonder that Jesus cursed a barren fig tree.
Read Mark 11:12-25, the same story is also recorded in Matthew 21:12-22, where Jesus cleanses the temple a second time after cursing a fig tree. The physical fig tree wasn't prepared to minister to the Lord at His coming, and neither was the spiritual fig tree, Israel. Jesus cursed the unproductive, physical fig tree, the spiritual fig tree called down a curse upon themselves (Mat. 27:25). The physical properties of the earth are ours to command if we have the faith, but relationships need forgiveness.
I will take some liberties in associating Jesus clearing the temple to myself cleansing the sin done against my body, the temple of the Holy Spirit; and that the fig tree representing Israel, the guardians of the temple, are like my parents who were supposed to protect me. During the first cleansing Jesus uses a whip, not mentioned in the later cleansing. I'd like to suggest that sins left over time need extra force to be eradicated. As a child I was an image of God that my parents defiled. My parents have both professed becoming Christians at one time, and yet they will be cut down (Luke 13:9) if they do not produce fruit befitting repentance. I do not ascribe to cursing people. Those who preach a different gospel are already cursed.
I see a Father's broken heart of disappointment in His children, and His frustration in their continued disobedience. I believe God is eternal and His character is unchanging, but I believe He also deals with mankind in real time, learning from His experiences with men and women who keep doing things He never imagined or intended. Some believe in a sci-fi god which travels time, but I think time exists in heaven akin to our time on earth (Rev. 8:1).
Like most parents, God uses different discipline methods for His children. The Jews continue to experience persecution and suffering (possibly from rejecting their Messiah - see Matthew 27:25). Isn't it just like a normal family? The first-born receives many spankings, but the second child, observing how the first is treated (1 Cor. 10:1-13), and being empowered by God's Spirit, decides not to be as rebellious. God does not change, but His methods sure can.
Psalm 4:4 "Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your
heart on your bed, and be still."
Angry is ragaz in Hebrew, meaning to tremble, to quiver, to be agitated, to be excited, or to be perturbed.
Still is damam in Hebrew, meaning to be silent, to cease, or to stand still.
Ecclesiastes 7:9 "Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry:
for anger resteth in the bosom of fools."
Anger is ka'ac in Hebrew; meaning vexation, provocation, grief, or frustration.
Resteth is nuwach in Hebrew; meaning to settle down and remain, to repose, have rest, be quiet; to let remain, leave to leave, depart from, to abandon, or to permit.
Ephesians 4:26-27 "`Be angry, and do not sin': do not let
the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil."
Angry is orgizo in Greek (the root orge means excitement of the mind, violent passion, or desire), meaning to provoke or enrage or to become exasperated.
Wrath is parorgizo in Greek, meaning to anger alongside, or to provoke to wrath.
Place is topos in Greek, meaning space, location, condition, license, or opportunity.
Devil is diabolos in Greek, meaning false accuser, slanderer, or Satan.
Colossians 3:8 "But now ye also put off all these; anger,
wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth."
Anger is orge in Greek; meaning anger, the natural disposition, temper, or character; movement or agitation of the soul, impulse, desire, any violent emotion; indignation or vengeance; exhibited in punishment, and used for punishment itself.
Wrath is thumos in Greek; meaning passion, angry, heat, anger forthwith boiling up and soon subsiding again; glow, ardour, the wine of passion, inflaming wine (which either drives the drinker mad or kills him with its deadly heat); fierceness or indignation.
Malice is kakia in Greek; meaning maliciousness, evil, naughtiness, malignity, ill-will, desire to injure, wickedness, depravity; wickedness that is not ashamed to break laws.
Blasphemy is blasphemia in Greek; meaning evil speaking, railing, slander, detraction, or speech injurious to another's good name.
Filthy Communication is aischrologia in Greek; meaning foul speaking, low and obscene speech.
Instead of plotting sinful actions ("giving place to the devil") before you fall asleep, ask God for grace to deal with troublesome people and situations in your life. Man's anger becomes foolish and detrimental when it becomes a first response to any agitation (1 Cor. 13:4-5); or when it is not expressed, and allowed to fester. It is the vengeful type of anger (orge) which we are to put away from us (Ephesians 4:31 and Colossians 3:8). Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words explains it this way: Thumos, "wrath" (not translated "anger"), is to be distinguished from orge, in this respect, that thumos indicates a more agitated condition of the feelings, an outburst of wrath from inward indignation, while orge suggests a more settled or abiding condition of mind, frequently with a view to taking revenge.
2 Thessalonians 1:6 "Seeing it is a righteous thing with
God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you"
Trouble is thlibo in Greek, meaning to crowd, afflict, throng, or suffer tribulation.
Lawyers who shout "separation of church and state" don't like to tell you that most of our laws are based on Old Testament Law. After God delivered the Ten Commandments to Moses in Exodus 20, He took the next three chapters to define some particulars. Found in chapters 21-24 are the use of force for protection of self, for protection of property, and for protection of community.
Exodus 21:12-14 "He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall
be surely put to death. And if a man lie not in wait, but God deliver him
into his hand; then I will appoint thee a place whither he shall flee.
But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile;
thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die."
Deliver is 'anah in Hebrew; meaning to meet, encounter, approach, be opportune, to seek occasion (quarrel), or cause oneself to meet.
Those who murder someone intentionally should be killed regardless of whether or not they've repented ("take him from mine altar"). Those who kill someone unintentionally could finish their lives in a city of refuge, likened unto our low-security prisons or house arrest. A man could kill another in self-defense, but he would forfeit his freedom for the rest of his life in doing so. But if a quarrel resulted in serious injury, the non-seriously injured party was bound to pay his loss of wages and medical services until he was completely healed (Exodus 21:18-19).
Exodus 21:20-22 "And if a man smite his servant, or his maid,
with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding,
if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.
If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from
her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according
as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges
Punished (1) is naqam in Hebrew; meaning to avenge, take vengeance, revenge, avenge oneself, be avenged, or to suffer vengeance.
Punished (2) is 'anash in Hebrew; meaning to fine, amerce, punish, or condemn.
Fruit is yeled in Hebrew; meaning child, son, boy, offspring, or youth.
Depart is yatsa' in Hebrew; meaning to go/come out/forth, to lead out, or to deliver.
Mischief is 'acown in Hebrew; meaning evil, harm, or hurt.
Slaves were regarded as human property since they were paid for, yet punishment would follow if a master intentionally killed one. Slaves were to be freed in retribution for a permanent injury (vv. 26-27). Women and children were also treated as a man's human property at times. It is unclear here as to whether the child is born alive and healthy, or injured or dead; or whether the payment is for injury to the wife.
Exodus 22:1-4 "If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and
kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep
for a sheep. If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die,
there shall no blood be shed for him. If the sun be risen upon him, there
shall be blood shed for him; for he should make full restitution; if he
have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. If the theft be certainly
found in his hand alive, whether it be ox, or ass, or sheep; he shall restore
Breaking up is machtereth in Hebrew; meaning breaking in, or burglary.
Thieves would often dig through the clay bricks of the house. If the thief is killed at night as a means of self protection, the one who killed him will not be put to death; but if the thief stole during the day (and recognized as a member of the Hebrew community), he "should make full restitution". If the property owner recognizes the thief in the light, and kills him anyway; then it would be counted as murder, and the community would take his life as well.
Exodus 22:6 "If fire break out, and catch in thorns, so that the stacks of corn, or the standing corn, or the field, be consumed therewith; he that kindled the fire shall surely make restitution."
Those who commit intentional or unintentional arson must make restitution.
Exodus 21:15-17 "And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death. And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death. And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death."
Exodus 21:28-32 "If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be quit. But if the ox were wont to push with his horn in time past, and it hath been testified to his owner, and he hath not kept him in, but that he hath killed a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death. If there be laid on him a sum of money, then he shall give for the ransom of his life whatsoever is laid upon him. Whether he have gored a son, or have gored a daughter, according to this judgment shall it be done unto him. If the ox shall push a manservant or a maidservant; he shall give unto their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned."
Exodus 22:16-17 "And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed,
and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. If her father
utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the
dowry of virgins."
Entice is pathah in Greek, from a primitive root 'to open'; meaning to make simple, to delude, to deceive, to enlarge, or to persuade.
This situation may be likened to today's 'date rape'. This is not a stranger who rapes her in a field (Deuteronomy 22:23-29), but someone she possibly knows who persuades her innocent mind to consider an indecent act. Then a 'shotgun' wedding ensues, or the man pays the bridal price for the act he committed.
Exodus 22:18-20 "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death. He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the LORD only, he shall be utterly destroyed."
Exodus 21-27 "Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless. If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury. If thou at all take thy neighbour's raiment to pledge, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that the sun goeth down: For that is his covering only, it is his raiment for his skin: wherein shall he sleep? and it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto me, that I will hear; for I am gracious."
Exodus 23:1-3 "Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment: Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause."
These scriptures are just a few of the laws God used to separate a holy people unto Himself. Leviticus 17-20 gives another list of unlawful behaviors, many of which the Hebrews were to kill the offenders in order to keep their community healthy and holy.
Luke 3:14 "And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying,
And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither
accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages."
Violence is diaseio in Hebrew; meaning to shake thoroughly, to make to tremble, to terrify, to agitate, to extort money or property from one by intimidation.
The soldiers who were not content with their wages could easily intimidate people into giving them money, either by physically accosting them or by threatening to bring them before the authorities on false charges. We might remember this sort of violence from the school bully.
Malachi 2:13-17 "And this have ye done again, covering the
altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch
that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good
will at your hand. Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness
between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously:
yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. And did not he
make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That
he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let
none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. For the LORD, the
God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence
with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your
spirit, that ye deal not treacherously. Ye have wearied the LORD with your
words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one
that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in
them; or, Where is the God of judgment?"
Treacherously is bagad in Hebrew, meaning 'to cover' (with a garment); to act covertly, to deal deceitfully or unfaithfully.
Putting away is shalach in Hebrew, meaning cast out, forsake, let depart, or divorce.
Violence is chamac in Hebrew, meaning wrong, cruelty, or injustice.
Wife beating is not new to our century, neither is the high divorce rate among believers in God; God hates them both. Couples will experience anger, and they need to prepare themselves to express it safely. Some couples like to debate a point from each other's perspective, some throw pillows at each other until they start laughing, some like to argue while naked until their passions change from anger to amore, some set aside a certain time each week to air complaints; but every couple needs to have a plan to 'fight fair' when they disagree and/or are angry. Violence is not an option.
If your spouse is violent towards you, leave and get help. God didn't create you in His Image to be used as a punching bag. Press charges in hopes denial will be broken, and true repentance will ensue.
Proverbs 22:24-25 "Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul."
Proverbs 21:19 "It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman."
Anger is an emotion which we share with our Creator. Anger can be helpful in self-defense and in standing against unrighteousness. Anger can be safely expressed. If it is not expressed, to God in prayer or to the person in hopes of resolution, it may turn to hatred or bitterness. "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath (Eph 4:26)."
© 1997 L. Eve Engelbrite