December 8, 2016
We all get angry on occasion. It’s part of our human emotions but it’s one that can hurt others deeply and also hurt ourselves. Anger is a selfish emotion that centers around pride. It might flare up when someone doesn’t give us the respect we think we deserve or disagrees with our opinion. Unfortunately, anger can lead to violence and even murder. Spousal abuse, child abuse, and road rage are all too common in society today. The Apostle Paul addressed anger and gave good advice. “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil.” Ephesians 4:26-27. Anger is an ugly emotion that needs to be controlled or else it will control you. The Bible has a lot to say about anger and as always we need to learn from God’s word and apply it to our everyday life.
Jude is a very short letter and is often overlooked in Bible study, but the wisdom and information found in those 25 verses is astonishing. “Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.” Jude 1:11. These are three Old Testament examples of people who strayed far from God. They each were guilty of a different sin and these sins resulted in angry outbursts. They did not control their sin and anger, and the results were disastrous. These men aren’t any different than you and me, but we can learn from their errors if we will study and pray.
The story of Cain and Abel is well known. Adam had sinned and Paradise was lost. After the Fall, Adam and Eve had children, the first two being Cain and Abel. As Cain and Abel grew older, each worked in a different profession. “And Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.” Genesis 4:1-2. Both professions were noble, but it’s how you use what God provides that matters. The brothers both understood about giving sacrifice to God, but Cain didn’t care if he gave a proper sacrifice. “And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.” Genesis 4:3-5 Abel understood that the blood sacrifice of his sheep was a sin offering, but Cain did what was easiest for him and brought fruit of the ground. The model of the blood sacrifice had been shown when God clothed Adam and Eve with the skins of animals in order to cover their sin and shame. Then He called Adam, Eve, and the Serpent together and told the specific result of the sin to each of them. Because Adam had listened to Eve rather than to God, he was told “… cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life:” Genesis 3:17b. The ground was cursed, but Cain chose to give the fruit of the earth as a sacrifice to God. When his sacrifice was rejected he didn’t look at himself and see what needed to change. Instead he became angry with Abel. The outcome of that anger was tragic. “And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.” Genesis 4:8. If anger is unchecked the results can be tragic. It’s no different today. People are very angry and many times that anger results in murder. Cain should not be our example, but Abel should be. He followed God’s directions even though it resulted in his death.
Balaam is another example and his story is a strange one. God had given the Israelites victory in battles as they wandered in the wilderness, and Balak, the king of the Moabites, noticed. He was concerned that they would do battle with Moab and be victorious, so he called a meeting with the Midianites. It was decided that they would approach Balaam, a prophet, and ask him to curse the Israelites. “And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the rewards of divination in their hand; and they came unto Balaam, and spake unto him the words of Balak.” Numbers 22:7. Money talks and Balaam was willing to prophesy against the Israelites for money. He was confident that God would allow him to curse the Israelites, but that was not to be. “And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people for they are blessed.” Numbers 22:12. These words should be heeded by anyone who turns against Israel; God will not allow His people to be cursed. Balak was disappointed, but then offered Balaam prestige if he would curse the Israelites. Balaam served his own self interest so how could he refuse money and prestige. Greed can cause a person to do many underhanded things, and Balaam was greedy. Eventually he went with the Moabites. “And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab.” Numbers 22:21.So off he went, smug in his own negotiations with the Moabites for money and prestige. Self importance will cause a person to be blind to God, and so it was with Balaam. “And God’s anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him.” Numbers 22:22. Balaam had his heart set upon his own lust for fame and money, but God was not going to allow him to curse Israel. Many Bible teachers say the “angel of the LORD” referred to here is an Old Testament appearance of Jesus. Balaam let his lust blind him to the LORD. “And the ass saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way.” Numbers 22:23. Balaam’s eyes were blind to what was seen clearly by the ass. He was angry and lashed out. The ass was innocent and only trying avoid a problem. Balaam beat the poor animal but she kept turning aside because she wouldn’t pass the angel of the LORD. Finally she just laid down and Balaam became even angrier and hit her with his staff. What happened next is a miracle. “And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee that thou has smitten me these three times? And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee. And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou has ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? And he said, Nay. ” Numbers 22:28-30. Anger blinds a person to God and befuddles our mind so we don’t think straight. Balaam’s anger caused him to miss seeing Jesus and he wasn’t surprised at having a conversation with his ass as if it was a normal thing. The LORD did open Balaam’s eyes and he saw the LORD and fell down before Him. If Balaam had not been blinded by greed and rage he would have opened his eyes to Jesus before abusing his animal. Jesus will give you peace if you allow it.
The next man on Jude’s list is Core, which is the Greek translation of Korah. This, man along with Dathan and Abiram, was jealous of Moses and Aaron. Jealousy has its roots in pride and can easily lead to anger. Moses spoke with God and led the Israelites according to God’s directions and Aaron was the high priest who was appointed by God. Korah must have done a lot of bellyaching, because he convinced Dathan, Abiram, and 250 other men to turn against Moses and Aaron. “And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?” Numbers16:3. Korah was jealous that God had seemingly elevated Moses and Aaron above all of Israel. God was able to use Moses because Moses, a humble man, had the characteristics that qualified him for the task of leading the Israelites by listening to God. Korah proved his unworthiness by his jealousy and anger against God. These men accused Moses of leading them from the wonderful life in Egypt and into the wilderness that did not meet their expectations. They had forgotten the cruelty of slavery in Egypt and also forgot that they were wandering in the wilderness because they were too afraid to enter the land God had promised them. The wilderness may not have been flowing with milk and honey, but God had provided them with manna daily. Anger against leaders chosen by God is never justified and only brings destruction. God was swift to quell this uprising. Moses warned everyone to get away “…from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye be consumed in all their sins.” Numbers 16:26b. Moses was a man who listened to God and obeyed, but Korah and his friends worked themselves into a fury against God’s chosen leader, and they were about to pay the price for their anger and rebellion. “If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then the LORD hath not sent me. But if the LORD make a new thing and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD.” Numbers 16:29-30. Korah and his friends did not die a common death, but were indeed swallowed by the earth. Korah brought about his own destruction by his jealous anger. Today we may not be swallowed by the earth, but anger against God will certainly destroy you because of your own choices.
The Bible teaches that we need to control our human nature and allow God to move us away from angry thoughts, words, and actions. Nobody likes to have someone angry with them, and Jesus says we should treat others as we want to be treated. “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” Luke 6:31. When we accept Christ into our life we should put off the old ways and learn to become more like Him. Jesus did get angry, but only against those religious leaders who were filled with pride and mocked God…those who misused authority and misused the Temple. Instead of getting angery turn to God and ask Him to help you to love others. “Beloved let us love one another: for love is of God: and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8.
Control your anger and allow God’s love to flow through you to touch others.
God bless you all,
Ron Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.