What is the importance of God’s anger against everyone, especially in the
Old Testament through the plagues and such?

First, it is extremely important to understand that anger toward those who
rebel against him is a very real part of the God of the universe. It is
natural that Christians should emphasize the love of God, as the grace of
God in forgiving our sins is the first principle of the gospel. Having
said this, one should not forget why the blood of Jesus needed to be shed.
God hates sin. In Romans 6:23 it clearly says that the wages of sin are
death. God loves us enough to be willing to punish his own son Jesus
Christ in our place, but it would be very foolish to forget that from
God’s perspective, our sin deserves eternal damnation. Our sin and
rebellion against God makes him very angry!!! Consider Hebrews 10:26-31,
where it says, “If we deliberately keep on sinning… a fearful
expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will destroy the enemies
of God… It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of a living God.”

Not surprisingly, the anger/wrath of God is not a popular topic in today’s
feel-good culture. However, ignoring the truth is a very dangerous
approach to life! Ignoring traffic lights can lead to death. Forgetting
God’s wrath over our sin can lead to eternal death. There are literally
hundreds of passages in the Old Testament which communicate unambiguously
God’s anger toward sin. Consider Psalms 2. This passage begins with a
description of a person who has chosen to rebel against God’s appointed
authority. Here is God’s response: “The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger, and terrifies
them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy
hill…. Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the
Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can
flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”

Feeling good about God’s love is a wonderful thing, but the psalmist
advises us to “rejoice with trembling.” Having been raised in a
denominational world in which only the grace of God is emphasized can make
a phrase such as “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed,”
seem out of place. However, it is an accurate description of how God feels
toward us. Bottom line, anger toward the rebellion of those whom he
created is definitely part of God’s nature. I believe this should make up
a more significant part of what is taught and preached.

Getting to your example, probably the plagues in Egypt are not the best
example of God’s anger at our rebellion, as the plagues were partly a
response to Pharaoh’s stubbornness, but they were also God working to help
his people to get free. There are many passages in Isaiah, Jeremiah,
Ezekiel as well as most of the “minor” prophets describing God coming in
judgment because of the sin of his people or the sin of the nations around

As far as the quote above, I would agree that God sent Jesus to the earth
in order to allow him to receive the punishment which we deserve. In that
sense, God did indeed “sacrifice himself to himself.” My only hesitation
regarding this quote is when it implies that God is angry at his people
for behaving the way he created them. God created us to be holy and
perfect–to walk with him in perfect union. It was the choice of Eve and
Adam and our subsequent choice to rebel against God which created the
problem. God did not create us to suffer his anger, but to experience his

John Oakes, PhD

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