How do you react when someone gets angry? Do you get angry too? Do you get super calm and quiet, sort of balancing out the energy? Do you clam up?
I guess it depends on who it is that’s getting angry and why. It depends on whether we think they’re being crazy and unnecessary or whether we understand their feelings.
Whatever the circumstances, we take notice. Anger fills the room. It arrests our attention.
So you can imagine what it was like for the Israelites in this chapter.
They’re camped near Moab. Balaam has just finished pronouncing blessing after blessing on Israel. It’s good vibes only for the Israelites.
Until they go and mess everything up. Sex is a drug, and the men of Israel give in to it, sleeping with the Moabite women near them and worshiping their gods, including Baal.
The Israelites. God’s people. The people God had led through the dangerous wilderness for years upon years. The people God had put up with and tolerated, through all their complaining and brattiness and outright sin. The people God had loved and chosen and rescued.
Those people started to worship other gods.
Is it any wonder that “the Lord’s anger burned against them” (verse 3)?
Ain’t nothing but a thing
Does God still get angry like that today?
Maybe not? I mean, when was the last time you served another god? What would that even look like? Bowing to Buddha? Joining the Church of Satan?
Or could it look like a Netflix binge? Skipped worship time? A bag of potato chips plus a bucket of ice cream plus way too much candy plus more? Sex with your boyfriend or girlfriend? A bank account that funds things for you and only you?
These things happen all the time. We’re not perfect. God knows our hearts, after all. He knows we’re dust. He knows we mess up. He understands, right?
But the Bible says He gets angry. His anger burned against the Israelites. He sent a plague on them. He let them suffer.
Didn’t He know the Israelites’ hearts? Didn’t He sympathize with them and their mistakes? Why didn’t He pat them on the head and give them a little comforting shrug?
We can look at the Israelites and see how shameful their sin was. How wicked it was for them to forsake the God who had kept them and protected them for years. How insane it was for them to trust an idol over the Creator God.
We can even look at this story and see God’s heart. How much He wanted them to trust Him. How He wanted them to give themselves to Him and only Him. How much He wanted to bless them, how happy He knew He could make them, if only they would believe in Him and obey Him. How desperately He wanted to heal them and completely transform them.
Yet when we look at ourselves and our own sins, we see something different. We see issues that aren’t that bad. We see unfortunate habits.
We comfort ourselves. We congratulate ourselves for the bare minimum.
Meanwhile, God’s anger is burning. Not because He hates us, but because He hates sin. Not because He can’t stand to look at us, but because He can’t stand to see us suffer.
How can we be so casual?
“Sin is more than just unfortunate to Me.”
Anger is supposed to get our attention. The Israelites saw a plague decimate their camp. Maybe we see health problems. Finances running dry. Suffering relationships. Mental health struggles.
Is God trying to get our attention?
What are we supposed to do about it? In case we had forgotten, we aren’t perfect. We can’t be righteous on our own.
The climax of this chapter is in the midst of the deaths from the plague, during the heat of God’s anger. Unfazed, an Israelite brings a Moabite woman into camp and proceeds to sleep with her. Realize, the rest of the Israelites are literally a few feet away begging forgiveness for the exact sin he’s committing! But he doesn’t care.
So Phineas, a priest, takes a spear and pierces it right through both the defiant Israelite and his partner. Just like that.
That is the reaction we are supposed to have to sin.
We’re supposed to get angry.
We’re supposed to be ruthless.
We’re supposed to kill our triggers, our temptations. Cancel our Netflix account. Replace our plans with worship time. Empty our fridge of those harmful foods. End that relationship. Donate that money we were saving to missionaries and ministries.
Because this is serious. Sin costs us our joy. It costs us peace. It costs us health, jobs, friends.
But most of all, it will cost us our lives.
That’s why God burns with anger against sin. Because there is nothing that horrifies Him more than the thought of us dying forever.
Get angry and ask God for forgiveness.
Get angry and surrender every habit, every temptation to God.
Get ANGRY and let God destroy the things that lead us to sin.
And let your anger and your zeal and your surrender lead you to a new life.
What do you think? What things in your life make God angry? Comment below, and share.