#25 - How long does God's anger last?
The skeptic's bafflement:
God's anger lasts for just a moment.
"For his anger endureth but a moment." Psalm 30:5
"I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger for ever." Jeremiah 3:12
"He retaineth not his anger forever, because he delighteth in mercy." Micah 7:18
God's anger lasts a long time.
"And the Lord's anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness for forty years." Numbers 32:13
"Ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn for ever." Jeremiah 17:4
"Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." Matthew 25:41
"And these shall go away into everlasting punishment." Matthew 25:46
The duration of God’s anger depends on many factors. God is a God of mercy, and a God of love, yet He is also a God of justice- Who hates sin.
To those people who are His followers (such as David in Psalm 30), then His anger only lasts a short time if they are truly repentant. When the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years before reaching Canaan, it was because they had been bickering with Moses, and affronting God’s Sovereignty. Therefore, in His anger, God delivered a decree, or punishment, that they should be “homeless” for that long. He was angry for a short time, but he also delivered a sentence to match the crime.
Jeremiah 17:4 is misunderstood by the skeptic. The verse actually illustrates God’s justice more than His anger. The verse in its entirety: “And thou, even thyself, shalt discontinue from thine heritage that I gave thee; and I will cause thee to serve thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not: for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn for ever.”
The tribe of Judah was flagrantly disobedient, so they lost their inheritance from God, and served their enemies. This “fire” can be interpreted as a burning of their inheritance, which would be perpetual. God still has not technically given them their inheritance back(Zionists [Illuminists] founded and are in control of today’s “Israel”), and only the repentant, Christ-believing Jews will receive a future inheritance in the Heavenly Kingdom. Essentially, God became angry - the consequence being that Judah’s land was forever torched metaphorically.
God will forgive sin and no longer be angry at penitents, yet He also leaves them to the consequential punishment of their actions. The key is: God will not condemn them to Hell, but rather bring them back into fellowship with Him.
Jeremiah 3:12 in its entirety illustrates this point:
“Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep mine anger for ever.”
Here we see that God’s favor is conditional: “Return, ... and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you”. If they do this, then God “will not keep [his] anger for ever”. This last part of the verse might also be revealing that God foresees Israel’s future repentance. Repentance is always required by God for forgiveness. ( see my article The Issue of Forgiveness )
Micah 7:18 describes what would happen when Israel repented of her sins.
The two remaining verses referenced by the skeptic pertain to God’s Justice. God is Holy and Just, as well as Loving and Merciful. Sin brings punishment. That’s why God the Father sent His Son Jesus as a sacrifice: so that as many as would except the sacrifice would be legally brought back into communion with Him. God has decreed that sin from unrepentant sinners must be punished, and God’s Word is unchangeable and unbreakable. As a result, Satan and his angels, and the wicked of mankind, will receive punishment that has been foreordained.