Summary: If we want see healing in our land, we must be angry about the sin in our lives; we must be honest; we must be ruthless; and we must be humble.
A little boy was sitting sadly on the curb beside his lawn mower, when along came a preacher riding a bicycle. The preacher noticed the sad little boy and decided he would try to help.
“Hello there!” said the preacher. “How would you like to trade your lawn mower for this bicycle?
“Sure, mister,” the boy responded, and went on his merry way.
A few days later, the boy and the preacher saw each other again. The preacher said, “I think you tricked me on our trade. I keep crankin' that old lawn mower, but it won't start.”
“You gotta cuss it,” said the boy.
“Well I can't do that,” said the preacher. “I'm a minister. I forgot about cussin' a long time ago.”
The boy answered, “Just keep on crankin', preacher; it'll come back to ya.” (Van Morris, Mount Washington, Kentucky; www.PreachingToday.com)
We get angry about so many things, and most of the time it’s inappropriate. But there are some things we should be angry about. We’re studying the life of Moses, and very rarely do we see him angry. So when he does get angry, it grabs our attention and make us think about the appropriateness of our own anger.
If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Exodus 32, Exodus 32, where we see one of those rare occasions when Moses got really angry. He had just spent 40 days and 40 nights with the Lord on Mt. Sinai (Deuteronomy 9:11). There, God gave Moses His holy law inscribed on two tablets of stone, but the people down below were already breaking that law.
Exodus 32:15-20 Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back. The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets. When Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, “There is the sound of war in the camp.” Moses replied: “It is not the sound of victory, it is not the sound of defeat; it is the sound of singing that I hear.” When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. And he took the calf they had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it. (NIV)
Moses was extremely angry, and rightfully so. The people had broken God’s first two commandments: You shall have no other gods before me; and You shall not make for yourselves an idol. Then on top of that they were breaking the 7th commandment: You shall not commit adultery – they were involved in a drunken orgy and called it “worship.”
They were breaking God’s law, so Moses broke the tablets of stone on which God’s law was inscribed. Then he took the gold-plated calf idol, burned the wood, ground the gold into powder, and made the people drink the ashes and powder, which he had thrown into their drinking water. It showed them the worthlessness of their idol, and it no doubt made them sick to their stomachs, demonstrating that their sin had terrible and sickening consequences for the entire nation (cf. Numbers 5:18-22).
This was no trite matter. This was a severe breach of God’s law, which could destroy the entire nation in its infancy. That’s why Moses got mad – not because HE was hurt, no. Moses got mad, because he saw God’s people destroying themselves by their own willful disobedience.
And sin should make us angry too. When people deliberately disobey God, it should make us extremely angry, because their actions hurt not only themselves, it hurts their families and the people around them. The problem is too many of us stand idly by, saying, “Who am I to judge?” Then we wonder why immorality is now running rampant and destroying our country, our churches, and our families. No! If we want to deal with the sin problem that is wreaking havoc in our society, we must…
Sin should make us mad. Willful disobedience should tick us off like it did Moses.
The problem is: we get angry over the wrong stuff. We get angry when OUR feelings are hurt, or when WE are inconvenienced, not when people’s sin hurt themselves and those around them.
In 1988, William Finnegan spent two months in Mozambique talking with victims of that terrible war and the famine it had caused. A year later, he wrote about his experiences in The New Yorker, saying, “By far the most emotional voices I heard were in the capital city, Maputo, where great bellows of rage and grief often woke me in the mornings. The sufferers were always the same South African and Portuguese businessmen, playing tennis on the courts below my hotel room window.” (William Finnegan, in The New Yorker, May 29, 1989; www.PreachingToday.com)