Our daughter, Leah, used to love building these extensive Lego villages on our family room floor. She’d build houses, barns, stores, and roads, and she’d populate the villages with little Lego people. She’d work hard to make sure that everything was just the way she wanted it to be. Each little Lego person had to be standing in just the right place. Their cars would be carefully parked in their little Lego garages. Any Lego animals needed to be in their corrals. In Leah’s mind, everything was perfect. This was her little Lego shalom.
And, she was very keen on protecting Legoland. She had a variety of rules, most of which had to do with not knocking stuff over or moving things without permission. Although some of her rules could seem a bit arbitrary (Is it really that bad to put the blue Lego person in the red Lego house?), they actually served an important purpose. These were the rules necessary for protecting Legoland. And, she had the right to make the rules because she was the one who had created Legoland. So, we could play in Legoland with her, but we had to follow the rules.
Unfortunately for her little Lego shalom, Leah has a younger sister, Sydney. We used to call her Sydzilla. And, Sydzilla loved nothing more than to stomp on little Lego villages. It’s surprising how much chaos and destruction a three year old can cause in a relatively short amount of time. As long as Leah was in the room, she could prevent any real harm from coming to Legoland. But, let her leave the room for even a few minutes, and it was entirely possible that she’d come back to find that Sydzilla had visited. And, Sydzilla definitely didn’t follow the rules.
I’m sure you can imagine how Leah would respond when Sydzilla would destroy her Lego shalom. She was angry. And, she had a right to be. That was her creation. She had set it up just right, and she wanted to make sure that it was protected, that it continued to do what she had designed it to do. So, when it was destroyed, she got angry. Anger is the right response when shalom is destroyed.
When Adam and Eve rejected God’s gifts and violated his commandment, they destroyed shalom. We’ve seen how their action caused relationships to disintegrate, introduced death into the world, and infected Adam and Eve with guilt and shame. Clearly, this was not the way things were supposed to be. They destroyed shalom, and God got angry. He brought his curses down on the serpent, Adam, Eve, and creation itself (Gen. 3:14-19). And, at the end of the story, he drove Adam and Eve from the garden, placing an angel at its entrance to ensure that they would not return (Gen. 3:23-24).
God gets angry when his creatures sin against him. And, he gets angry for two reasons. First, he gets angry because he is God and, ultimately, all sin is against him. “Sin” basically means to violate in any way the relationship that we have with a holy God. Since God created us with the intention that every part of our being—our body, soul, mind, heart, etc.—would manifest his glory, this means that anything that does not do so is ultimately a violation of our relationship with him and a sin against him. When Joseph was tempted to have an adulterous affair with Potipher’s wife, he recognized that this would be a sin against God, “How…can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (Gen. 39:9). Now, of course, it would also have been an offense to Potipher and his wife. But, “sin” itself is ultimately an affront to God. It is a violation of the relationship that we have with him as his image bearers. After his own affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, David similarly cried out, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (Ps. 51:4). Surely he had hurt Bathasheba and her husband (to say the least), indeed he’d hurt the entire kingdom with his selfishness and unfaithfulness, but his sin was against God.
When Sydney stomps into the room and destroys Legoland, her offense is not primarily against the little Lego people. She has hurt them, and we’ll get to that in a second, but ultimately she has offended Leah and violated the relationship with her. Leah has a right to be angry, and believe me, she is perfectly willing to exercise that right. Similarly, God is a holy God who is angered and offended when we sin against him (Isa. 6:3; Rev. 4:8).
But, God is also angry when we sin because he is the Creator and sin is bad for his creation. God gets angry when his creatures sin because they are destroying shalom. They are corrupting the good creation that God made and the good relationships that he wanted to be a part of that creation. Remember, God didn’t give the commandment because he likes telling people what to do. He gave the commandment as a gift to his creatures, that they might become the amazing people he intended and participate in the beauty of his plan. By breaking that commandment, Adam and Eve had rejected the gift, broken relationship, desecrated the garden, and shattered shalom. And, the Creator is angry because all of this is harmful to his good creation and his people.
When Sydzilla visits Legoland, she hurts the little Lego people. Leah gets angry not just because Sydney has violated that relationship with her, but because the Lego shalom has been destroyed and her good creation has been harmed in the process. Leah’s anger is a just and righteous response to something that threatens and harms her creation.
Adam and Eve’s sin provoked anger—the anger of a holy God and the anger of a protective Creator. Both of these are important aspects of God’s anger that will come into play in the story that follows.