Why You Want an Angry God
God gets angry at the sin of his people Israel. What does this tell us about God?
Transcript: Welcome to the Light of Christ weekly podcast. Light of Christ Anglican Church is located in Georgetown, Texas at MLK and University Avenue. We are a modern expression of the ancient faith. You can learn more about us at lightofchristgeorgetown.org.
Today's sermon soundbite comes from Exodus chapter 32 verses seven through 10. We see here the Lord God becoming angry at the sin of his people. What does it mean for God to be angry? Verse seven, "And the Lord said to Moses, 'Go down for your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, 'These are your gods, Oh Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.' And the Lord said to Moses, 'I have seen this people, and behold it is a stiff necked people. Now, therefore let me alone that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them in order that I may make a great nation of you.'"
So we see God is angry and sin has placed this relational wedge between him and his people. Notice as he's talking about the people, he says, "You go down to ..." He says to Moses, "Go down to your people whom you brought up." There's this distance now. He's like God saying, "I'm not taking responsibility for these people."
Now it's not God who's left them. They have left God. It's not God who has broken the covenant. They have broken the covenant.
Now, I want to make a clarification here. When we talk about God's anger, we need to know that God's anger is not like human anger. Human anger is mostly due to selfishness and lack of control. I'm not getting what I want. I'm not controlling the situation. I get angry and mostly that's because I'm selfish and I can't see that other people can do things other ways. Or maybe they have a voice that needs to be heard. Mostly when I'm angry, it's selfishness.
But God's anger is like our anger by analogy. There's an analogy between God's anger and our anger. There's a way in which they are related, but they're very, very different.
How are they related? Well, anger is God's disposition towards sin. It's God's disposition towards sin. God is perfect, he's pure, he's loving, and sin is incredibly, we don't even understand how incredibly destructive it is. God's disposition towards sin is described as anger.
Now, how was it like human anger? We've talked about how it's unlike human anger. Well, it's like human anger in that it is justified, at times. Sometimes human anger is justified. Have you seen that bumper sticker? It says, "If you aren't angry you haven't been paying attention." Have you seen that one? Well, I would suspect and I don't want to judge the person with this bumper sticker, but I would suspect that some of that anger, as it would with me, comes out of a self-righteous position. Maybe they're paying more attention to what's happening outside of them than what's happening in their own heart. I'm just speaking for myself, I guess.
But there is something true about this. When we see people we love being hurt or we see just the way that people can treat each other, especially the ones we love, anger is the appropriate response. It is. At times human anger is justified. With God it's always justified because who is paying more attention than God? He knows all things.
God's anger, unlike our anger, is always holy, always loving, always self-controlled, and always purposeful. You may say, "Well, I don't want an angry God. I don't like an angry God." Are you sure about that? Would you rather have a God that is just yucking it up in heaven while we languish on earth, who's disconnected from our condition? See, an angry God is a God who cares.
Given that this world is filled with pain and suffering, a God who's connected to it, who cares about it has to be angry. Yet, unlike human anger, I want to say again, God's anger is always a 100% justified.
We might say, "Well, I can't believe in a God like that. I can't believe in a God who would be angry." Well, I really think that that's not the way to go. I mean, it would be like saying, "I can't believe in gravity like that because I don't like what it does," and then try to jump off of a cliff and fly. The question is not what kind of God do I want? As if I'm picking out some sort of ice cream flavor. The question is, “What God is?” What God is? What is he like? That's really the question. That's what the scripture and especially Jesus reveals to us.
Thank you for listening to the Light of Christ podcast. Let us end our time together with a prayer from the book of common prayer. This prayer of penitence can be found on page 549.
Show favor to your people, O Lord, who turn to you in weeping, fasting, and prayer. For you are a merciful God, full of compassion, long-suffering, and abounding in steadfast love. You spare when we deserve punishment, and in your wrath you remember mercy. Spare your people, good Lord, spare us; in the multitude of your mercies, look upon us and forgive us; through the merits and mediation of your blessed Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.