Friday, April 24, 2009

Righteous Indignation

God. Angry.

I grew up thinking those two words were the perfect example of an oxymoron. Except where it applied to me. God could NEVER be angry. Except at me. At me, he was ALWAYS angry. Without a break and without fail. That's the way it was. (I'm not sure how that worked that God could never be angry yet at the same time he was always angry - at me, no less - but then I never claimed to be entirely rational!)

At Cell Group tonight we went back to our study "Emotionally Healthy Spirituality". I could probably write all night, and straight into next week about all that was stirred up in me and the things we talked about. But let me just stick to one of God's emotions, as depicted in Psalm 18.

God emotes. The Bible attributes a number of emotions to God, but the one that most intrigues me is "anger".

But "God is love". How does that equate? How can "Love", be "angry"?

Here is a powerful description of God's anger, in Psalm 118:

"7 ... the foundations of the mountains shook;
they trembled because he was angry.
8 Smoke rose from his nostrils;

consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it...

...15 and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at your rebuke, O LORD,
at the blast of breath from your nostrils."

What made him so angry?

If I interpose myself into this psalm, which is not much of a stretch for me, it says I was in big trouble. The enemy had me wrapped around his little finger. He had played havoc with my life. My situation was absolutely desperate and my circumstances horrible. It's not hard to apply that to my life which included abuse, loneliness and misunderstanding before I met Christ. And then I cried out to God...

That anger - as expressed in Psalm 18 - was the anger He felt over what the enemy had tried to accomplish with my life. What happens when I cry out to Him? He reacts:

6 From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears.
7 The earth trembled and quaked,
and the foundations of the mountains shook;
they trembled because he was angry.
8 Smoke rose from his nostrils;
consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it.
9 He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under his feet.
10 He mounted the cherubim and flew;
he soared on the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him—
the dark rain clouds of the sky.
12 Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced,
with hailstones and bolts of lightning.
13 The LORD thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded.
14 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemies ,
great bolts of lightning and routed them.
15 The valleys of the sea were exposed
and the foundations of the earth laid bareItalic
at your rebuke, O LORD,
at the blast of breath from your nostrils.

What happens to that kind of anger from God? He is holy, and in his holiness, he is also just. How does he reconcile his anger, and also justice? Where does it go?

You'll have to stay tuned for Chapter 2 in my next post, but here's a hint:

16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,

from my foes, who were too strong for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,

but the LORD was my support.
19 He brought me out into a spacious place;

he rescued me because he delighted in me.

3 comments:

Deidra said...

It always amazes me when I stop by here, to hear what you're reading. Our bookshelves must look a lot alike.

You've mentioned Streams in the Dessert, which my husband is reading and cannot stop talking about.

Psalm 18 has followed me these past few months. I especially enjoy the message version of Psalm 18:19 - He stood me up on a wide-open field; I stood there saved—surprised to be loved!

Are you studying Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero?

Belinda said...

Hi Deidra! :)
I'm replying to your comment on Susan's post (there are three of us currently writing regularly here--Susan on Friday and Meg on Saturday and me, Sunday to Thursday.)

Yes--we are studying the book you mentioned by Peter Scazzero at our cell group and it is richly and profoundly blessing and touching us. Have you studied it?

Dave Hingsburger said...

Susan, I know why God loves you. Have you ever seen the kindness that hides at the back of your eyes ... start there ... the rest will follow.