Few things in the Bible inspire more terror than the anger of the Lord. “It is fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31), “for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). The Old Testament is rife with examples of God’s enduring patience coming to an abrupt and screeching halt in a ball of fire (Leviticus 10:1-2), deadly plague (Numbers 16:47-49) or natural disaster (Joel 1:4). The “God of patience” (Romans 15:5) has His limits and beyond that boundary is where all Heaven breaks loose (Romans 1:18).
To portray our Heavenly Father as the just God the Bible reveals Him to be demands an equal response on both sides of the moral spectrum: He is gracious toward the obedient (Titus 2:11-14), He is equally dismissive toward those who disobey (2 Peter 2:12-22). However, one important distinction between the forgiveness of grudge-holding humans and a merciful God is in the expression and duration of His anger. In gratitude and relief, the Psalmist states: “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).
God’s grace does not exclude His anger and, because His displeasure can be so complete and overwhelming, it is often glossed over or flatly ignored. But, why? God’s eternal angst is reserved for those who refuse to know Him or rebel against Him (2 Thessalonians 1:8). Not so for His children. Included in His righteous indignation is the sweet reprieve of our abiding in His eternal favor (1 John 1:7) and knowing that every correction is temporary (Ezra 9:8). By comparison, the “black-book” habit of humanity (“I may forgive but I’ll never forget”) is not a level to which our loving God will stoop.
This seemingly negative emotion from God toward humanity is one of the most loving, corrective and instructive but (uniquely and thankfully) temporary of all His expressions. We are blessed to have the perfect Parent to guide the children of God into eternity. The anger of the Lord is not a negative.