7783 - God's Anger


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In Hebrews, chapter 3 is a review of how the people of Israel provoked God by their stubborn refusal to believe that God would in fact overcome the strong people who lived within walled cities in the land of Canaan.

Listen to Hebrews 3, verses 10 and 11:

That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, “Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.” So I declared on oath in my anger, “They shall never enter my rest.”

Let’s review some history to prepare for today’s study.

Abraham had been directed by God to come to Canaan from Ur where he had grown up. In Canaan Abraham entered family life and was blessed by God. God promised Abraham, his son Isaac, and his grandson Jacob, that he would give this land of Canaan to their descendants. Later Jacob and his family took refuge in Egypt because of a famine in Canaan.

Jacob’s family was invited to Egypt under favorable terms due to the fact that God had beforehand provided for one of Jacob’s sons, namely Joseph, to be placed as the ruler over all of Egypt by the Pharaoh. Because of Joseph’s power and influence with Pharaoh the seventy family members were moved to Egypt and were treated well. They prospered and multiplied greatly.

After Joseph died a new king reigned over Egypt who felt threatened by this growing number of foreigners who were prospering in his country. He commanded his officials to deal shrewdly with the Israelites, and they were subjected to slavery.

Centuries passed and the Israelites became apathetic toward God. They even entered into idol worship.

When the Israelites groaned in their slavery and finally cried out, God heard their groaning and remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

God raised up Moses as his chosen man to lead Israel out of Egypt and back to Canaan.

In this third chapter of Hebrews we see how these Israelites who were seeking to return to Canaan, had hardened their hearts and rebelled against following God’s plan of going into Canaan and taking the land. In fact, they stated they would have been better off if they had died in the desert.

We want to talk about God’s response to the rebellion of these people.

God is truly pure, holy, and righteous. God is also loving and in the minds of many people that is his only emotion. However, that is a totally erroneous idea.

Rebellion raises God’s anger. God doesn’t ignore sin. He disciplines us for our own good. God greatly desires that his children share in his holiness, so he applies the appropriate discipline to steer us toward righteousness and holiness.

In the present passage the hearts of the Israelites turned away from him. If the hearts of these people had been responsive and trusting of God, they would not have hesitated to enter Canaan. Could they not trust God to demonstrate his mighty power and displace these people? But they refused.

If we do not trust and obey him, we stir up his anger. Anger is not sin. What people do with anger may be sin, but the emotion itself is not sin.

But God was angry with that generation which refused to trust him to guide and direct, to protect and provide whatever was necessary for them to occupy the land as promised.

God’s anger was expressed in the declaration that this generation of adult men who were 20 years of age or older would never enter the rest which they were anticipating in the ‘promised land.’ This whole congregation wandered in the desert for forty years while these men died off and the youth grew up.

All of us in this generation who are believers in Christ Jesus should search God’s Word consistently so that we may be obedient children of God who will be rewarded and blessed. This is far better than being ignorant of his desires, or rebellious of his commands. This brings his anger and discipline.