Towards the end of the book of Genesis, Jacob, a dying man, calls his children for his last blessing. As he is addressing each of his sons individually, he puts Simeon and Levi on the spot with a harsh rebuke (Genesis 49:5):
“Simeon and Levi are brothers;
Instruments of cruelty are in their dwelling place.”
Jacob is referring to an incident that happened several years ago when they lived near the city of Shechem in Canaan. There he bought a parcel of land from the children of King Hamor. However, other than having trade agreements with the people of the land, Jacob’s tribe did not mingle much with the Canaanites. That changed overnight when the shocking news transpired that one of King Hamor’s sons, Prince Shechem, had raped Jacob’s daughter Dinah. In his defense, the prince later proposed to marry Dinah, but Jacob’s family still was deeply offended; and with Simeon and Levi as ringleaders, Jacob’s sons took revenge on him for the rape, not only by killing the offender Prince Shechem, but also by wiping out the entire male population of the area. On his deathbed Jacob stood up to his sons and distanced himself from such cruel behavior.
Speaking of cruelty, what about God’s violent temper? Wasn’t it devastating when He initiated the Big Flood wiping out most of mankind and killing an enormous amount of land animals? Reading up on what God Himself has to say about His wrath, we find a statement in the book of Exodus (Exodus 22:24):
“And my wrath will become hot, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.”
That’s shocking to hear of course, but let’s check out what triggered this remark. Interestingly, the preceding verses say (Exodus 22:22-23):
“You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. If you afflict them in any way, and they cry out to Me, I will surely hear their cry;”
Apparently, a major trigger stirring up God’s wrath is abusing the helpless. If we trample on the weak we are stepping on God’s toes! He is THE defender of the poor, the lonely, those who struggle to make ends meet. We cross the line when we disrespect them, and we will trigger God’s wrath when we abuse them.
Compare this to what triggers human anger, and we often see hurt pride combined with a lack of interest in people. Nobody really had Dinah’s best interest at heart when Jacob’s sons took revenge. In their arrogance they destroyed all prospects of a good future for her, not to mention the bereaved families who lost their providers in this senseless murder.
Looking at these two scenarios it quickly becomes clear that human anger has little in common with God’s anger. The former is usually an expression of our selfishness; the latter is God’s way of defending those who cannot defend themselves.
When God’s love spells w-r-a-t-h, we know that He intervenes. He intervenes to protect, to save, and to restore. So, even when the world seems to fall apart, let’s not forget to look up! We find a safe place in His arms if we’re on His side.
“In the eye of the storm
You remain in control
And in the middle of the war
You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor
When my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me
In the eye of the storm” Ryan Stevenson