Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Seeds of Doubt: Doubting A Good God's Anger
Lamentations is a book about the suffering of a people in great national crisis. Judah has been exiled, their land has been taken from them, children are dead, men and women have been killed by the enemy and this all happens after the great revival under one of Judah's godly kings, young Josiah. You can bet that the Hebrews were wondering how a good God could be so angry with them.
The writer of Lamentations, probably the great weeping prophet Jeremiah, ends the lament with the haunting question, ‘Have You (O LORD) utterly rejected us? Are You exceedingly angry with us?’ (5:22).
You may have had this question during your own suffering. Or perhaps you haven't suffered but you wonder why the Bible would concern itself with such an angry God. God's anger has caused great doubt in many great thinkers. Why would God be an angry God?
Let's return to that question of Jeremiah, "God, are you mad at me?" In his prayer, the prophet assumes that God is personal and that we can relate to Him. The anger of God can actually give you reason to rejoice - God cares. He is not impersonal. He is not like a Father who doesn't care where his kids are or what they are doing. If you remove anger from God's response to sin He will immediately become impersonal and more of a force than a person who cares for His kids.
One man, Abraham J Heschel put it so clearly when he wrote these words. God, he explained,
is … moved and affected by what happens in the world, and reacts accordingly. Events and human actions arouse in Him joy or sorrow, pleasure or wrath. He is not conceived as judging the world in detachment. He reacts in an animate and subjective manner and thus determines the value of events.
Thus anger is God’s sign that He still cares. It is the fabric out of which a more enduring friendship can be forged. Anger, 'breaks through indifference. It smashes through apathy.’
So God’s anger is not despotic, unreasonable, or whimsical; it is related to violations of the covenant He made with His people and therefore, in a way, it is a sign that He has not abandoned either His people or His plan."
If my child were to come home and tell me that he had cheated on a test I would be angry. The more I love my child the more broken I will be over their sin. If someone else's child comes home and tells me the same thing, I am not angry with them in the same way that I am angry with my child. Why? Because I am deeply connected and I deeply love my sons and daughters. God's anger is not a reason to doubt. God's anger is a reason to believe that He is fulfilling His promise to be your Father God who loves you as His child.