We’ve come to Genesis 34. Jacob has met Esau with much trembling of heart as he full expected his brother’s anger to burn hotter now than ever. In a rare case where time did heal the wound, Esau is not only so pleased to see Jacob that he cries on his shoulder, but offers to travel back with him to his home in Seir. Jacob gives the excuse of travelling with young, and chooses to lag behind. As with his Grandfather, Abraham, such dallying invariably leads to problems.
Sure enough, he settles for a time in a city called Shalem and trouble finds him soon enough. Isn’t it amazing how when we procrastinate, when we put something off that we’ve intended to do, when we don’t immediately engage in the healthier action, that trouble tends to find us too? Jacob’s sons have inherited the family trait known as deceit and they waste no time in acting on it when they learn of Hamor’s son, Shechem defiling their sister. Notice their response to the news:
Genesis 34:7 And the sons of Jacob came out of the field when they heard it: and the men were grieved, and they were very wroth, because he had wrought folly in Israel in lying with Jacob’s daughter; which thing ought not to be done.
Where they wrong to be angry over their sister’s defilement??? Scripture actually says,
Ephesians 4:26-27 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil.
Even the One Who we are to be like, got angry while on this earth:
Mark 3:5 And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.
John 2:13-17 And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, 14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: 15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; 16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. 17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.
Now if it was possible for Jesus Christ to walk this earth and display anger without sin, what does that say of Jacob’s sons in Genesis 34? Their anger, combined with the family trait of deceit, led to incredible shame for Jacob. Yes, Dina had been defiled, and it was right for her brothers to be angry, but how they handled their anger to deal with her situation was what was wrong.
Many teach that anger is wrong, but Scripture doesn’t say that. Many more verses could be quoted to show God’s anger over sin, Christ’s anger over refusal to understand or believe, etcetera. If it’s okay for God to be angry and do so without sinning, then with the Holy Spirit’s help, we too can be angry and use that anger for productive ends rather than sinful destructive ends. Just like any other emotion God created, anger is a tool, not a decision-maker. It is a response or reactionary feeling and as with all feelings, it must be dealt with objectively before someone gets hurt. Most times, when anger is not dealt with objectively, not only does the person it is aimed at get hurt, but the person experiencing the anger also gets hurt. As in the case of Jacob’s family, the brothers’ actions didn’t just affect Shechem’s family and city, but also affected their Father.
There is room for righteous anger in the House of God. There is room for righteous anger among the Children of God. However, there is no room for sinful engagement as a result of that anger. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and when we deal with injustice in an equally wrongful manner, no one comes out the winner.