147 – WRATH 1
Wrath is anger, fury. The wisest of all men talks about wrath in a humorous way: “For the churning of milk produces butter, and pressing the nose brings forth blood; so the churning of anger produces strife” (Prov.30:33). Solomon wants to teach here that wrath will never produce obedience, or goodwill, peace, or friendship, fellowship, or reconciling. Wrath produces strife alone. Solomon goes on saying: “Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood” (Prov.27:4). The impetus of wrath drives people to violent and irrational attitudes, which publicly exposes them to demoralization, and forces them to retract and repent. Any respectable person of good social standing refrains from wrath, and so Solomon, the man who received the wisdom of Jehovah, said, “A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression” (Prov.19:11). And Solomon adds: “Scorners set a city aflame, but wise men turn away anger” (Prov.29:8).
Solomon gives advice to the young ones, so that, when they become older they will not act unbecomingly. “So remove vexation from your heart and put away pain from your body, because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting” (Eccl.11:10). Solomon reveals in this statement that evil goes hand in hand with wrath, and whoever gets angry retains the evil of his flesh. The great sage gives us a fantastic revelation: “Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, for anger resides in the bosom of fools” (Eccl.7:9).
Simeon and Levi, sons of Jacob, were filled with anger when Shechem lay with their sister Dinah by force. Since Shechem was in love with Dinah, his father Hamor, king of the Hivites, agreed that all the men of his city were circumcised, that is, this act would unite the two people in peace. On the third day after the bloody ceremony, when the pain was the greatest, Simeon and Levi took their swords, and killed all the males. This is what wrath does. And Jacob, old, in bed, when he blessed his sons, said: “Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce” (Gen.49:7).
If wrath is a violent passion, uncontrollable, obstructing reason and good judgment in men, it would be unacceptable that God, the great creator, who is described by the apostle John as Love (1 John 4:7-8), could be susceptible to its fits, which are proper of criminals and terrorists. Unluckily, the picture is terrorizing. Jehovah gets angry every day (Ps.7:11). Jehovah, irate before the disobedience of the people, starts a series of divine attacks against his children, thinking that, through terror, he would make them faithful, holy, loving and gentle. Let us transcribe an instance of his murderous wrath:“Therefore, as a tongue of fire consumes stubble, and dry grass collapses into the flame, so their root will become like rot and their blossom blow away as dust; For they have rejected the law of Jehovah of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy one of Israel. On this account the anger of Jehovah has burned against His people, and he has stretched out His hand against them and struck them down, and the mountains quacked; and their corpses lay like refuse in the middle of the streets” (Is.5:24-25). Bus as the wrath of Jehovah does not have an end, Isaiah continues to speak: Therefore Jehovah raises against them adversaries from Rezin, and spurs their enemies on, the Syrians on the east and the Philistines on the west; and they devour Israel with gaping jaws. In spite of all this His anger does not turn away, ands His hand is still stretched out” (Is.9:11-12). And the great prophet continues his macabre description: “Therefore Jehovah does not take pleasure in their young men, nor does He have pity on their orphans or their widows; for every one of them is godless and an evildoer, and every mouth is speaking foolishness. In spite of all this His anger does not turn away, and His hand is still stretched out” (Is.9:17). “By the fury of Jehovah of hosts the land is burned up, and the people are like fuel for the fire; no man spares his brother” (Is.9:19).
Wrath does not give birth to instruction, but to a bloody and sterile fury. The very Jehovah warned Israel, saying: “And you shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. If you afflict him at all, and if he does cry out to Me, I will surely hear his cry; and My anger will be kindled, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless” (Ex.22:21-24).
Wrath gives birth to a bloody and murderous fury. “For in a very little while My indignation against you will be spent, and My anger will be directed to their destruction” (Is.10:25), “Now the people became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of Jehovah; and when Jehovah heard it, His anger was kindled, and the fire of Jehovah burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp” (Num.11:1). When Moses went up to Mount Sinai to receive the law and statures of Jehovah, the people down the mount became perverted, worshiping the golden calf. Jehovah, then, told Moses: “Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them, and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation” (Ex.32:10). Since wrath lowers the status of anyone, even the status of Jehovah, the god of Israel, he had to yield before the arguments of Moses: “Turn from Thy burning anger and change Thy mind about doing harm to Thy people” (Ex.32:14). Even a god, when he is irritable, and plans to do absurdities, deserves to be rebuked by a man. What a shame! And this did not happen only once. After forty years, when they were about to go into Canaan, twelve spies went to investigate the land. Ten of them acted like cowards, and the people murmured. Jehovah, then, said: “How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst? I will smite them with pestilence and dispossess them, and I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they” (Num.14:11-12). And the man Moses once more opposed the plans of Jehovah, who yielded in the end. But as wrath kills, he destroyed by the plague all that generation, which he had delivered from Egypt. Wrath takes from man, and also from the god Jehovah, all love, all pity, and all compassion, and leaves no traces of any of them. “‘And I will dash them against each other, both the fathers and the sons together,’ declares Jehovah, ‘I will not show pity nor be sorry nor have compassion that I should not destroy them” (Jer.13:14). “Therefore, I indeed shall deal in wrath. My eye will have no pity nor shall I spare; and though they cry in My ears with a loud voice, yet I shall not listen to them” (Ezek.8:18). Wrath caused god to become hardened…
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira