One is repeatedly instructed to do or refrain from doing certain things in life for fear of annoying God. Invariably the angry God is supposed to be sending the offenders to hell but separation from God is seldom quoted as punishment. God is love for He has provided all that man needs for comfortable living on the earth and that too in abundance and how He could be perpetually angry or throwing tantrums at the least cause. And then why would an angry God punish His own Son to suffer for our sins?
What kindles God’s anger? God created man in ‘His image and likeness’ (Genesis 1:27) but after the sin of disobedience (Genesis 5:3) when Adam begot a son, ‘he was in his own likeness, after his image’. God passed on His traits in man at creation but thereafter the next generation received the character and habits of the parents along with a natural habit to sin. First was God’s decision to stop being the mediator or judge between mankind for they are ‘indeed flesh’ and prone to sin (Genesis 6:3-6). And then God saw the great wickedness of man and repented for making man on the earth and ‘He was grieved in the heart’. Out of all of mankind only Noah and his family was found to be comparatively righteous and from that a new generation came into being after the flood.
God created mankind to be dependent on Him and have his identity in Him alone but man has been trying since then to enter heaven on his own efforts without little or no help from God. People initially settled in the valley of Shinar and attempted to build a tower ‘whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves’ (Genesis 11:4). God created Lucifer perfect in every sense but he tried to steal what is due to God only and attempted to make himself ‘like the Most High’, to reach the highest point of all of creation ‘above the tops of the clouds’ (Isaiah 14:14). King Herod did not give praise to God when people heard him and shouted, ‘This is the voice of god, not of a man’ (Acts 12:21-23). God’s wrath was kindled and immediately ‘an angel of the LORD struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died’.
God is love (1 John 4:8) and Apostle Paul has defined godly love. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). God categorically states, ‘I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another’ (Isaiah 42:8). God’s glory is all about His character traits, behavior pattern, His honor, splendor and dignity. Satan tried to steal that and was banished from heaven and Adam and Eve tried to do the same by trying to ‘become like God’ and had to leave the Garden of Eden for a life of toil, pain and separation from God.
God never abandoned mankind and continued to guide through various prophecies and messages, even going to the extent of being in their midst in the Temple in Jerusalem. God clarifies the reason for His care for mankind, by revealing Himself to man through Israel, His chosen people, to be in a close relationship with mankind. ‘For My name’s sake I will defer My anger and for My praise I will restrain it from you, so that I do not cut you off. I have refined you but not as silver, I have tested you in the furnace of affliction’ (Isaiah 48:9-11). The trials that we see as punishment is actually God’s work of refining us and the final act could only be completed by His Son on the cross by shedding His blood and taking on Himself all of our inequities. The final reason for this is given by God, ‘For My own sake, for My own sake, I do this. How can I let Myself be defamed?’ God did not send His Son to condemn the world but He came as a Redeemer to save mankind (John 3:17).
Despite all that God has done for mankind, those who reject the Son of God and His word, will be judged by the same Word on the last day (John 12:48). To escape God’s anger or wrath, the only thing anyone can do is to believe and receive Lord Jesus and rest in His finished work on the cross, rather than attempting to create his/her own ‘Tower of Babel’ to reach Him. Jacob saw the ladder connecting earth with heaven and the angels ascending and descending on that, with the LORD on the top. He recognized the way made available by God, believed, surrendered and worshipped Him. That is what we are supposed to do to enter His holy presence and life of abundance.
Fear and moving forward in life – Fear is an emotion given to man by God to protect us, for it alerts us to possible danger and helps us prepare to face that challenge. It is a very natural feeling. The first occurrence of fear is of Adam and Eve hiding from God’s voice and the Hebrew word used here is ‘yare’ which means ‘fear, revere, stand in awe, show reverence’ (Genesis 3:10). Basically there are two types of fear based on our reaction to the situation. First is the biochemical, which is about release of adrenalin into the bloodstream which gives us physical strength and alertness to flee or face danger with a very quick assessment. This is like facing an assailant on a dark street corner alone and at night in a deserted place. Second, this fear is emotional, which includes the spiritual also. Joseph’s fear of sin is spiritual and so is his reasoning with Potiphar’s wife, for he told her, ‘There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he (Potiphar) kept anything from me but you, for you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?’ (Genesis 39:9, 12). When cornered he fled from there, even leaving his garment (shawl) in the possession of the wife of his master.
Spiritual fear also is of two types, firstly, fear of God which is about being in awe and fear of disobedience of His Word due to weakness, ignorance or deliberately falling to temptation or fear of our worldly enemies. For this we pray for strength and protection from the Lord. This spiritual fear fills us with reverence for the higher and spiritual matters/ things that are beyond our reach, are stronger and mighty. David cried out to God, for his enemies would hound and fight him all day (Psalm 56:2-4). This fear turns us to God and he could then declare in faith, ‘Whenever I am afraid I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word); in God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can man (flesh) do to me?’ Like David we seek Him and He opens the doors for us.
Fear of the LORD and the resultant obedience to His word bring unimaginable blessings. First, Long life, Moses commanded the Israelites, ‘Fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandchildren, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged’ (Deuteronomy 6:2). Second, Deep Spiritual knowledge and wisdom – Solomon revealed the secret of wisdom, ‘Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding’ (Proverbs 9:10). Third, A weapon against sin, Moses told the Israelites, ‘God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin’ (Exodus 20:20). Four, God’s mercy and grace, Mary the mother of our Lord sang, ‘His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation’ (Luke 1:50). Five, life and escape from deadly snares – ‘The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death’, for this fear has life giving power (Proverbs 14:27). Six, protection and abundance –David could declare from his personal experience, ‘The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him’ (Psalm 34:7-9). Seven, Friendship status with God – ‘The LORD is a friend to those who fear Him’ and then the promise to that man who fears Him, ‘Him shall He teach in the way He chooses. He himself shall dwell in prosperity, and his descendents shall inherit the earth’ (Psalm 25:12-14).
If one wants all these and many more blessings, we must live in fear of the LORD and for that we have to know Him. This fear is a ‘holy’ fear visible through humble living and obedience to His word. It is not a one time thing but an active and dynamic part of daily life.
Now, about the other type of fear, that is fear of the unexpected which comes from the devil who wants us to be led away from a life of faith and hope in the LORD. This fear is to keep us from achieving the full destiny that God has decreed for our life through turning away from the right path. Fear of the unknown future should turn us to faith but the devil leads one to astrologers, mediums and those dealing with familiar spirits to get a reading about the future. LORD God has expressly prohibited this (Leviticus 19:31). Sorcerers and those practicing such things are listed with and as dogs and shall have no access to the New Jerusalem and into the presence of God (Revelation 22:15). Apostle Peter lists the devil as our adversary who ‘walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom to devour’. Resist him steadfast in the faith’ (1 Peter 5:8-9P). We are to be vigilant and sober for the devil’s roar is to paralyze a person not careful, with fear, and then seize him into sinful living, away from the Lord. We have to resist him in faith that the Lord who is our strength and shield will protect us.
The Son of God came to ‘destroy the works of the devil’ which included the devil’s right to interfere in our lives due to our sins (1 John 3:8). Lord Jesus’ declaration from the cross, ‘Tetelestai or It is finished’ is about settling the account books and purchasing our freedom by paying in full what we were supposed to bear (John 19:30). Our faith is in the promise of God that ‘the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly’ (Romans 16:20). We are not to live in fear of the devil but ‘Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell’ (Matthew 10:28). We are to fear God and live in awe of Him and be in close relationship with Him.
Is God angry with a believer? We know about the love of God expressed and displayed in His Son who became man to our Redeemer by taking our debts/punishments for our sins on Himself. Lord Jesus did not come to declare punishment on sinners but to be their Savior (John 3:17-18). The only recorded prayer of the Son of God shows Him seeking restoration of His old status, ‘And now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory I had with You before the world was’ (John 17:5). In this, first, Lord Jesus prays that the Father would give Him glory; second, He claims restoration of the previous glory that He had before the time of creation, claiming His eternal status and third, He declares His glory to be that of the Father’s, to be glorified together. This prayer is to God who will never share His glory with another and Lord Jesus seeks sharing of that Divine glory with Him as the pre-existent Son of God.
Why did God sacrifice His Most prized possession, His own Son, for the sinners on the earth? The result of this act of God was told beforehand, and this is what the LORD declared, ‘In righteousness you shall be established; you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you’ (Isaiah 54:14 & 17). When redemption takes place, ‘No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn’. Resurrection and ascension of Lord Jesus is not only about His defeating death but also about providing human body entry into heaven, in the presence of God, in His own body. A God who has done so much to get mankind back to Him, how could anyone think Him to be angry?
Scripture reveals the ecstatic God, ‘The LORD your God in your midst; the Mighty One will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing’ (Zephaniah 3:17). God is willing to use His might to save; to be in our midst, despite our evil nature; to love us and to start singing songs for us. The Hebrew word translated ‘rejoice’ means to ‘circle around’. Imagine God loving you, singing songs for you and dancing around in circles for you. Those who reject such love of God in His Son and do not believe are condemned already (John 3:18). God’s image was restored in us through forgiveness of sins through faith in the Son of God but this does not mean that we become God, for an image imitates God but on its own it can do nothing.
Satan attempted to be like God and the same temptation was offered to Eve by the serpent that you will be ‘like God’ thus meaning that the power of the Creator will rest in them (Genesis 3:5). God’s warning of not ‘sharing His glory with anyone else’ implies that no one can exercise control over creation in His stead and only on His behalf. Even the Son of God, being God accepts the Sovereignty of the Father in heaven declaring clearly, ‘I can of Myself do nothing’ (John 5:30). And again while teaching about the day of judgment, He said, ‘But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father’ (Mark 13:32). As children of God we can never try to take the Father’s place and use of Lord Jesus’ name in prayer is about asking as per His character and works as revealed in the Scripture. Any attempt of crossing this forbidden line will incur God’s wrath, first as a small punishment and then eternal damnation.
A loving father, who does not teach his children about righteous living but lets them be whatever they want, becomes their biggest enemy. Our loving God is ‘able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we can think or imagine’ and He does this also for us. It then becomes our responsibility to be obedient to such a loving and caring Father and not incur His wrath for any reason. Our right relationship with God will affect us till eternity in a way that we cannot fathom with our worldly knowledge.