Growing up, my brother was Mr. Fashion.
Phillip could take any type of material, any color, anything clothing-wise, and making it look good and cool. I on the other hand was a fashion Neanderthal. I either looked like a lumberjack (no offense lumberjacks), or I went to the store and bought exactly what was on the mannequin. I would always where my brothers clothing, without asking, because I thought it made me look cool. Luckily for me, my brother loved me enough to allow this intrusion.
One day, while at school, during lunch time, I looked up to notice my brother wearing one of my shirts. I was immediately filled with anger. How dare he wear my clothes without asking me! I jumped up from my lunch table, in the middle of the cafeteria, and moved toward him, dragging him by his arm, thrusting him into the bathroom. I yelling-ly demanded that he remove my shirt immediately! Oh the hypocrisy! Tearfully, he complied. I remember afterward feeling bad, but it was fleeting. It wasn’t until years later that Phillip told me how wrathful he was toward me, not only because I was a hypocrite, not only because I embarrassed him in front of the entire school during lunch, but here is was the final reason: He loved me. He was so hurt that the brother he loved would treat him so harshly about such a worthless thing as a shirt, especially because he let me wear his clothes constantly. He was so hurt that the freedom and grace he gave me, I would not return to him. His wrath was kindled against me, because he was hurt by me, and he was hurt by me, because he loved me. His wrath was the just, emotional response to a hurt that was uncalled for, unwarranted, and undeserved. It was based in His love for me and the rightness of his position.
What is wrath in the Bible? There are many Hebrew words for wrath in the Bible. Here are a few:
'aph: properly the nose or nostril; hence the face, and occasionally a person; also (from the rapid breathing in passion) ire: - anger (-gry), + before, countenance, face, + forbearing, forehead, + [long-] suffering, nose, nostril, snout, X worthy, wrath.
This word is the opposite of the Hebrew word for long-suffering, which literally translates ‘long-nosed’. The idea here that one’s nose flares when one becomes angry, and turns red. To be long-nosed means it takes a good while for one to “lose it”.
chêmâh: heat; figuratively anger, poison (from its fever): - anger, bottles, hot displeasure, furious (-ly, -ry), heat, indignation, poison, rage, wrath (-ful)
Have you ever been so angry that you felt your temperature rise? Your ears begin to burn, sweat beads on your brow, your palms begin to perspire, and you can feel your temperature rising? That is what is being described when the BIble uses this word for wrath.
chârôn: a burning of anger: - sore displeasure, fierce (-ness), fury, (fierce) wrath (-ful), to blaze up.
The idea here is that long-suffering is running its course, and one’s anger has grown from simply temperature rising to the point where now, what was once a small spark is not a great conflagration. You are now so angry that you are a walking, blazing fire of wrath, the heat of anger continually building up the the flames. This becomes problematic to the spouse, who still thinks they have a right to be in, despite their breaking relationship constantly. Your justified anger makes it difficult for their rebellious selves to remain in your presence without suffering some burns. Yet you have not lashed out. It is your presence of anger at their philandering that that they feel.
qetseph: a splinter (as chipped off); figuratively rage or strife: - foam, indignation, X sore, wrath.
to crack off, that is, (figuratively) burst out in rage: - (be) anger (-ry), displease, fret self, (provoke to) wrath (come), be wroth
This word, used 29 times in the OT, gives the idea of partiality. No matter what you endure, if this is the wrath of God upon you, it is not the fulness. it is but a splinter. Picture yourself, a smoldering hot-red, flaming being, filled with justifiable anger for being abused, rejected, disregarded, cheated on, even though you have given your very best in a covenant relationship to your loved one. Now, imagine that some of that blazing fiery anger that has engulfed you from the inside out now leaps out just a little to spark your loved one, who still has the gall to call themselves your spouse.
‛ebrâh: an outburst of passion: - anger, rage, wrath.
This is the final straw. You have endured as much as you can. Your spouse has continuously cheated on you to the point of moving their new partner into your house and your bedroom. Or maybe they have physically/verbally/emotionally/sexually abused you so so often that they feel they can invite other people over to participate in abusing you are well. Or it possible they disregarded or neglected you to the point that they not only don’t acknowledge your presence at home, but they don’t acknowledge your presence in public, to your children, or at any other time. They do one of these things, or all of them, and all the while wanting to partake of the benefits of being married to you. And so you let out a scream, start grabbing their stuff and throwing it out of your house, as you are on the phone closing bank accounts, canceling insurance policies, changing wills and powers of attorney, calling the cops for get a restraining order against them for the abuse.
These are just some of the words used in the Bible to describe God’s wrath. If we were to simply look up the word wrath in a concordance, more than 80% of its usages would be related to a people who have chosen to reject the God who has so graciously covenanted with them, protecting and providing for them, intimately revealing himself to them in ways He has done for no other people, and they have rejected him, complained against him, left him, cheated on him, moved their new gods into His Sanctuary.
Imagine God, who after the fall still lovingly took care of humanity, providing a way of escape for humanity, and whom humanity continually turns its back on. All of his actions have been love, and yet his Long nose begins to redden. As a furrow on his brow shows has he comes alongside us, calm giving guidance, in a gentle voice. We listen for a time, and then we return to our rebellious ways. The Godhead look at each other. What are they to do? They raise their voice a bit, get in our way, show up at our club, at our hotels, at our bars, on the internet, trying to get our attention. They are getting agitated. Why isn't Jason listening? I continue down my chosen path, always asking for God to bless me, always expecting him to protect me, and yet onward with my chosen rebellion. God is visibly frustrated. He is yelling at me. Yea, I know He loves me, and that is what I am banking on. I mean, God’s hasn't punished me to roughly up till now. If that is the best He has, then I can keep coming back to my sin, and He will take me back every time.
As I continue in my willful obstinance, I begin to believe that not only does my sin not matter, but that, since God hasn't really punished me, what I am doing must actually please Him. The Godhead not only get in my way this time, They throw obstacles in my path. Really God? Like that will stop me. As I manage to maneuver myself around each obstacle to get to my desired rebellion, God steps up to smack me. maybe that will wake me up. maybe some of my protections are removed, maybe some of my privileges are revoked, maybe something valuable is allowed to be taken. Maybe then Jason will submit to the relationship that he so often claims to have.
Does it work? Do we listen? Do you turn from your wicked ways? No. We continue on, like lemmings running over the cliff. We do not care about God. We do not want God. Leave us alone. Let us do our thing. Watch what we do to your children God! Watch how we treat your planet God! Watch how we treat your temple God! As a matter of fact, you no longer our God!. We have our own God! Maybe it’s money, or sex, or power, or politics. Maybe its gossip, grudge-holding, lying, or unforgiveness...but whatever it is, we are better off with it than with you! What have you ever done for us anyway!
What is God to do? And so we will begin to see the 7 last plagues begin to show. The fulfillment of Matthew 24 and Luke 17 is initiated, because evil men and seducers have grown worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived (2 Timothy 3:13).
Does God rejoice that He must do this? I think not. God has entered into a covenant relationship with humanity (Genesis 3:15), not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). God did so because They love us. Their love is the basis of Their being, and because of Their Holiness, and the reality that there is no existence outside of a covenant relationship with them, they long-suffer with us. We underestimate the long-suffering of God with us.
It is our continuously deliberate, willful rebellion, disregarding God’s presence, assuming on His mercy and grace, that harden our own minds, wills and emotions toward any relationship with God. When this time comes, if we have not submitted to God, we won’t want to. God will have no choice but to give us what we want, which is not Him, and therefore not life. Will God be angry? sure. He will be upset that it has come to this. He will be upset that all of his ways of saving us we have rejected. He will strike our name from Heaven’s book of Love, and the divorce we initiated will be finalized. And once it is all over, and anger is spent, God will grieve for ones lost, whom He still loves.