Nahum 1:2—Does God get angry?

Problem: Nahum declares that God “avenges and is furious.” Indeed, God is often represented as being angry in the Bible (cf. Isa. 26:20; Jer. 4:8). At the same time, the Bible urges believers not to be angry, since it is a sin (cf. Gal. 5:20). But if it is a sin, then how can God do it?

Solution: Anger as such is not sinful. It depends on the purpose, nature, and/or object of anger. Even Jesus, our perfect moral example, was angry at sin (cf. Matt. 23:15–36). Paul exhorted us, “Be angry, and do not sin” (Eph. 4:26). In short, we should be angry at sin, but we should not sin in being angry. The problem with human anger, even in the good sense of anger at sin, is that it is easy to carry it too far so that we sin in our anger. Unlike God, who is “slow to anger” (Neh. 9:17), we are often quick to anger. In short, there is good and bad anger for humans.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.