Where in The Bible Does God Attend Anger Management Classes?

Editor’s Note: I love to bring in different voices to this blog. Today, you have the privilege of hearing from Seth Clarke. Seth is one of my best friends in the whole wide world. He works on staff at Ekklesia with me and is an excellent Bible student. Also, I don’t think there’s a bigger Disney or Dirk Pitt fan on the planet earth than Seth. Enjoy!  -Kyle

Belief-in-an-Angry-God-Now-Linked-to-Mental-Illness-2I was friends with a guy who got into the Hollywood scene. He originally attended seminary to become a pastor, but decided that Hollywood was the way to go instead. Then one day he tweeted, “Jesus telling people not to cast the first stone would have been cool, if his dad hadn’t told them to do it in the first place.

Unfortunately, this is a viewpoint that many Christians and non-Christians hold. Many think that the God of the Old Testament was angry; He wanted blood! He wanted vengeance!! HE WANTED TO WATCH THE CAST OF JERSEY SHORE BURN!!!…But then came Jesus, the God of the New Testament. He was all about peace, love, harmony, and organic foods.

God the Father had a crew cut, was clean-shaven, and fought in Korea. Jesus rocked the long flowing hair, beard, and listened to Simon and Garfunkel.

Both these views are skewed.

Lets sort out the first problem. God is Jesus. Jesus is God. You cannot separate the two. How do I know? He says so.

  • “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30)
  • “I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58)

So if God and Jesus are the same, why are they so different tempered? Did God have a change of heart during the 400 years between the Old Testament and New Testament? Did he attend anger management classes? Did he stop listening to rap music? Yoga?

No.

Understand that God never changes.

  • “For I am The LORD, I do not change.” (Malachi 3:6)
  • “Whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God above, who created all heaven’s lights. Unlike them, He never changes or casts shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)
  • “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

Also understand that God’s anger in the Old Testament is a righteous anger aimed at evil. It is good. It is just. It is the proverbial Superman to the world’s Voldermort. (Calm down my fellow nerds, it’s just an example.)

And we even see Jesus use this anger.

In John 2:13-22 people were using the temple to sell stuff and make money. Jesus got so angry that he yelled, over turned tables, and whipped people to get out! Can you imagine going to the store when all of a sudden a man starts yelling, knocking things over, then pulls out his Indiana Jones whip to scare people out? That’s scary enough by itself, without the righteous wrath of God!

So if Jesus and God are the same person and never change, then what’s the deal with God’s anger in the Old Testament? I would like to argue that God is actually a very loving God in the Old Testament. He forgives a countless number of times. He loves the people of the world. He wants them to succeed in life. He wants what’s best for them.

You want some examples? I’ll give you some examples.

Here are some in just the first book of The Bible:

  • God gave man the whole world. Literally. “And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26)
  • God told man not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, not because he wanted to tell man what to do, but because he loves us and did not want us to die, “for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:17)
  • God made woman so that man would not be lonely. (Genesis 2:18-22)
  • God agreed to spare an evil, vile, corrupt city of large population if there were merely ten righteous people in this city. (Genesis 18:23-32)

God demonstrates his love in other books of the Old Testament:

  • God freed the slaves of Egypt, who then complained, turned away from him, and worshiped idols, and he STILL forgave them. (Exodus 1-32)
  • God spared David. A king who had everything, who slept with another man’s wife, got her pregnant, tried to cover it up which failed, then killed her husband and made it look like an accident to try to cover it up again, then once the husband was dead he took her as his own wife. (2 Samuel 11 – 12:15)
  • God allowed the rich man, Job, to be tested but not killed, and then rewarded him with twice as many riches as he had before. (Job 1-42)
  • God continually offers redemption and grace to a stubborn and rebellious nation of Israel. (Isaiah 43)

But the biggest examples to me that the Old Testament God loves us are found in christophanies. Christophanies are God appearing in the pre-incarnate form of Jesus Christ. Again, if Jesus and God are one, then Jesus existed before he was born in flesh. Christophanies occur in the Old Testament when God wants to appear before man in a physical form. God the Father cannot appear before man, for he told Moses “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” (Exodus 33:20) Some examples of chistophanies can be found in Genesis 16, 18, 32, and Exodus 3.

So why would God want to appear to us who sin against him daily? Simple. Because he loves us. Because he doesn’t want to abandon us. Because he wants to be with us. He is the Father who wants to be with his children, no matter how badly those children misbehave.

Therefore I would urge anyone who is reading the Old Testament to shift their paradigm and look at who God really is.

A God who loves us.

A God who created us. Not so we could be ruled over and punished, but be cared for and watched over.

A God who ultimately would send his one and only son to be brutally murdered, so our relationship with him could be restored once and for all.

“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8)

Seth Clarke is a theology student at Calvary Chapel Bible College, musician, movie-buff, husband, and disciple of Christ. He’s currently devising a plan to join the cast of The Avengers but he’ll probably get beat out by Ben Affleck. Follow him on Twitter @Seth_Clarke.

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Moral Obligations and Joe Paterno

 

Much will be said in the coming days and week about the scandal exploding at Penn State.  Jerry Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator from the program, is being charged with sexually assaulting multiple children over a span of time while in employment at the university.  Many witnesses and victims have come forth to testify against Sandusky.  Among them is a former graduate assistant who claims he witnessed Sandusky rape a young boy in the football team’s showers in 2002.  This graduate assistant immediately brought it to the attention of the head football coach, Joe Paterno.  Paterno notified the athletic director and the vice president of the university and that was that.

There was apparently no follow up, no confrontation, no call to the police, and not even an investigation into the identity of the boy and Sandusky was able to retire from the university with position and prestige.

As more and more details have surfaced about the horrendous actions that Sandusky allegedly committed, outrage over Paterno’s inaction has led him to announce Wednesday that he will retire from his position as head coach at the end of the football season. Update: As of Wednesday night, Joe Paterno has been fired by the board of trustees from his position as head coach.  Thousands of Penn State students rioted in response to Paterno’s termination.

NOTHING WRONG

Joe Paterno (84) is known as one of the greatest living legends of college football.  He has coached as Penn State’s head coach for 46 years and owns more wins than any other major college football coach in history.

All of this has been tarnished in just over the course of a weekend.

While Paterno committed no outright heinous act, people have accused him of failing to fulfill a moral obligation.  A coach should above all protect people, not just his football program.

I find this extremely intriguing.  Most sports scandals involve an act of commission: adultery, cheating, steroids, brawls, drugs, play-for-pay, or domestic violence.  They committed an act to get in hot water.

You do not see many scandals where the person is accused because of doing nothing wrong.  But that is precisely the problem; Paterno should have done something.

Paterno preached, “Do the right thing” to his players and yet he did nothing.

GOOD AND EVIL

Every time there is public outrage over a scandal I am reminded that even in the midst of our postmodern, relativistic, your-truth-is-your-truth-and-my-truth-is-my-truth society, we still have a moral standard and this standard is written on every human heart by God through the conscience (Romans 2:15-16).

People were disgusted with Tiger Woods’ extramarital affairs.  Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring and animal brutality caused even my loveable little sister to call for his head on a platter.  Coach Jim Tressel’s cover up at Ohio State and the University of Miami’s problems with amoral boosters have put a huge blight on college football.

You can quibble about the gray areas all you want but at the end of the day, right is right and wrong is wrong.  There is absolute good and there is absolute evil.  Ask any victim of sexual assault.

This includes even the things we fail to do.  James 4:17 says, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”  Theologians identify such inaction as a sin of omission.

DO SOMETHING

When you fail to include the whole truth in a story because it could alter someone’s perception of you; when you know your wife needs help around the house but you decide to play video games or watch TV; when you know someone really needs a strong rebuke in love but you flounder in small talk; when you know someone weaker is being abused and subjected to a powerful monster but you shove it under the rug hoping it will work out on its own, it is sin.

I think it is so easy to lower our standards when it comes to sins of omission.  We justify, make excuses, or shift blame.  We think no one will notice or get hurt because we haven’t done anything wrong.  But that is precisely the problem; we should have done something.

THE HEART OF JESUS

Jesus was the opposite.  Instead of justification, excuses, and selfishness, His heart was full of compassion.

Continually in the Gospels, it states that Jesus had compassion for the lost and the broken.  This compassion was a deep pity, a true sorrow over their condition.  But it did not stop at emotion, Jesus’ compassion always moved Him to action.

When Jesus saw the poor, the broken, and the diseased following Him, “He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd,” and in response he sent his disciples to them to proclaim the Gospel (Matthew 9:36).

When four thousand men followed Jesus out to the Sea of Galilee, Jesus said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat.  And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way” (Matthew 15:32).

It was compassion that moved the Good Samaritan to forgo race, religion, and prejudice to bandage the wounded traveler (Luke 10:33).

It was compassion that caused the father of the Prodigal Son to throw off social restraint and dignity and run to embrace his slop-covered, wayward son (Luke 15:20).

It is compassion that causes the Lord to forgive all the junk in our lives if we come to Him (Lamentations 3:32; Micah 7:19; Zechariah 10:6; Romans 9:15).

Do we feel anything when we see a need?

Let us remember the heart of Christ, the essence of the Gospel—in the little things and in the big things—and do the good we know we are called to do as followers of Him.