2. Violence and Anger of God

A theme that occurs through the Old Testament of the Bible is the swift justice metered out by God. Those who defied God were at times subject to an immediate death penalty. The scene was set right back in the early chapters of Genesis, where Adam and Eve were told that there would be a death penalty for eating of the tree. While they didn't suffer immediate death, others who followed did.

At the time of Noah, on account of the wickedness of the people, God destroyed most of the people living in the world with the flood. Following that, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed when God rained fired on them, again because of the wickedness of the people living in them.

Instant Death

In the Old Testament, there are a number of cases where rebellion from God's ways led to a violent and public punishment. There were several of these incidents during the time that God had appointed Moses to lead the nation of Israel up out of Egypt. One speaks of a fire from God consuming the dissenters,

Numbers 11:1: The people were as murmurers, speaking evil in the ears of Yahweh: and when Yahweh heard it, his anger was kindled; and the fire of Yahweh burnt among them, and devoured in the uttermost part of the camp. WEB

Later, three men, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, staged a rebellion against Moses, and by implication the God who had appointed Moses. They had a dramatic fate at the hand of God, in front of all the people of Israel.

Numbers 16:31: It happened, as he made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground split apart that was under them; 32 and the earth opened its mouth, and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who appertained to Korah, and all their goods. 33. So they, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into Sheol: and the earth closed on them, and they perished from among the assembly. WEB

These events demonstrate a type of justice in the eyes of our current society can characterise Yahweh as a violent and angry God.

Ananias and Sapphira

Incidents of direct and severe judgement from God are not limited to the Old Testament times. While the New Testament in comparison covers a very short period of time, it also has recorded similar events after the time of Jesus.

Perhaps the most notable of these was the case of Ananias and Sapphira, who together conspired to be deceitful in the handling of money. They suffered an instant death penalty for fraud against the assembly of believers.

Acts 5:1: But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira, his wife, sold a possession, 2. and kept back part of the price, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. 3. But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back part of the price of the land? 4. While you kept it, didn't it remain your own? After it was sold, wasn't it in your power? How is it that you have conceived this thing in your heart? You haven't lied to men, but to God." 5. Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and died. Great fear came on all who heard these things. WEB

Even thouh Ananias and Sapphira weren't so overtly rebellious against God, they suffered a similar fate to that of Korah, Datham, and Abiram centuries befoe.

The Death of Herod

Another example of judgement was against Herod at a time when he was oppressing the followers of Christ. In this instance, as ruler over Israel, he completely failed to recognise the role and authority of God. God took that occasion to meter out a punishment.

Acts 12:21: On an appointed day, Herod dressed himself in royal clothing, sat on the throne, and gave a speech to them. 22 The people shouted, "The voice of a god, and not of a man!" 23 Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he didn't give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died. WEB

God brought on Herod an immediate punishment that was to lead to decay and death. This was possibly quite a slow and painful death for Herod in being eaten by worms, but every bit as decisive as the death sentences in the Old Testament.

Jesus' Whip of Cords

An important aspect of the life of Jesus was that he lived out the character of God, his father. He was so devoted to following the will of his father that seeing the actions of Jesus was the same as seeing the actions of God himself. The actions and teachings of Jesus thus reveal those of God.

While Jesus' message contains strong elements of compassion and forgiveness, there are also quite evident aspects of justice. A particularly noticeable event was at the time of Passover, when he entered the temple and discovered it to be misused by traders.

John 2:13: The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14. He found in the temple those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, and the changers of money sitting. 15. He made a whip of cords, and threw all out of the temple, both the sheep and the oxen; and he poured out the changers' money, and overthrew their tables. 16. To those who sold the doves, he said, "Take these things out of here! Don't make my Father's house a marketplace!" 17. His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for your house will eat me up." WEB

Here Jesus used physical force and whipped the traders out of temple. This is characteristic of that zeal seen in the Old Testament where the honour of God's name and of his temple were enforced.