It would be foolish to ignore the passages in Scripture that talk about God’s anger. Yes, God does get angry; there are many examples in the Bible of this. He “displays his wrath every day” (Psalm 7:11).
However, we must not equate God’s anger with our own human experiences of that emotion. We must look again to the Bible. Ephesians 4:26–27 tells us it is possible to experience anger but not sin. As God cannot sin, we know that His anger is righteous, unlike the common experience of anger in ourselves. As James 1:20 says, “Human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
The context of the verses of God getting angry reveals why He gets angry. God gets angry when there is a violation of His character. God is righteous, just, and holy, and none of these attributes can be compromised (Exodus 20:4–6; Isaiah 42:8). God was angry with the nation of Israel and with Israel’s kings every time they turned away from obeying Him (e.g., 1 Kings 11:9–10; 2 Kings 17:18). The wicked practices of the nations in Canaan, such as child sacrifice and sexual perversion, aroused God’s anger to the point He commanded Israel to completely destroy them—every man, woman, child, and animal—to remove wickedness from the land (Deuteronomy 7:1–6). Just as a parent becomes angry at anything that would hurt his children, so God’s anger is directed at that which would harm His people and their relationship with Him. “‘As surely as I live,’ declares the Sovereign LORD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live’” (Ezekiel 33:11).
In the New Testament, Jesus got angry with the religious teachers and leaders of that day for using religion for their own gain and keeping people in bondage (John 2:13–16; Mark 3:4–5). Romans 1:18 tells us God’s anger, or wrath, comes against “the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness.” So God gets angry at the wickedness in people, and He opposes that wickedness in an effort to turn them from evil, that they may find true life and freedom in Him. Even in His anger, God’s motivation is love for people; to restore the relationship that sin destroyed.
While God must bring justice and retribution for sin, those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior are no longer under God’s wrath for sin. Why? Because Jesus experienced the full measure of the wrath of God on the cross so that we wouldn’t have to. This is what is meant by Jesus’ death being a “propitiation,” or satisfaction. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1–4).