Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody starts out with a haunting confession. Following is a brief excerpt of the lyrics written by the late Freddie Mercury:
“Mama, just killed a man
Put a gun against his head
Pulled my trigger, now he’s dead
Mama, life had just begun
But now I’ve gone and thrown it all away”* (*Source: “Bohemian Rhapsody” from 1975 album: “A Night at the Opera”)
Make no mistake about it; every human being is capable of murder. Following the slippery slope of anger and hate leads to death. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus once said that we are held accountable if we are angry at someone. Anger should be taken as seriously as murder.
Towards the end of the book of Genesis, Jacob, a dying man, calls his children to his bedside for his last blessing. While he addresses each of his children individually, he puts Simeon and Levi on the spot with a harsh rebuke saying (Genesis 49:5):
“Simeon and Levi are brothers—
their swords are weapons of violence.”
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. 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 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 exclaiming (Genesis 49:7):
“Cursed be their anger, so fierce,
and their fury, so cruel!”
Nobody was really fighting for Dinah when Jacob’s sons took revenge. In their cruelty they destroyed all prospects of a good future for her, not to mention the bereaved Canaanite families who lost their providers in these senseless killings.
Speaking of cruelty, what about God’s anger? Wasn’t it devastating when He initiated the Big Flood wiping out most of mankind and killing an enormous of animals? Reading up on what God Himself has to say about His wrath, we find an intriguing statement in the book of Exodus (Exodus 22:24):
“My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become 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):
“Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly 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. We cross the line when we disrespect them, and we will trigger God’s wrath when we abuse them.
Human temper tantrums have little in common with God’s anger. The former is an expression of our selfishness; the latter is God’s way of defending the defenseless. When God’s love spells w-r-a-t-h, we know that He intervenes. He intervenes so wrongs are righted and to help those who cannot help themselves. We are on God’s side when we have the best interest of the disadvantaged at heart.