Righteous Anger, Righteous Violence

Shhh... Don't tell anyone, but Messiah wasn't the Greek peacenik adonis we make him out to be. Can you keep a secret? Ok, I'll tell you: This one time, Jesus got mad, really mad. In fact, he got so mad, he was violent. Yeah. Don't tell the folks in the pews, but Messiah wasn't exactly a pacifist.

Here's the dirty little secret from the New Testament:

When he reached Jerusalem, Y'shua entered the Temple and found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the Temple, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market.

The chief priests and the Pharisees heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.

Why was Messiah so angry? In our western mindset, we have it thoroughly ingrained into our liberated minds that most every act of violence is wrong, and that anger is wrong, and that intolerance is wrong.

Couldn't Messiah just have tolerated the beliefs of the money changers? Hey, they were just folks trying to make a living. How intolerant. What a bigoted, Jewish fundamentalist was this Jesus character. Look at that seething anger - how un-Western, how un-gentile of him! Somebody needs to free his mind to peace, love, and understanding. Religious nut-job with a violent streak, just another religious extremist!

It is no wonder Christian folks don't talk too much about this here in the Western gentile world, where anger will send you to a psychiatrist and violence will send you to prison.

We live in a world where even Christian preachers don't want to talk about this kind of thing. Recently, a Baptist Christian preacher awkwardly argued on his blog that the author of Psalm 137 was acting immorally when he pleaded with God for the destruction of Israel's captors. Here's Psalm 137, for the record:

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.

There on the poplars
we hung our harps,

for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"

How can we sing the songs of Yahweh
while in a foreign land?

If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
may my right hand forget its skill.

May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem
my highest joy.

Remember, O Yahweh, what the Edomites did
on the day Jerusalem fell.
"Tear it down," they cried,
"tear it down to its foundations!"

O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction,
happy is he who repays you
for what you have done to us-

he who seizes your infants
and dashes them against the rocks.

Psalm 137 put to music by Lamb:

This Protestant preacher told me, "See? The psalmist was wrong for such a horrible thought. Infants dashed on rocks -- my God. This is not my religion."

If you're living in the Western world and you're a gentile, you may very well sympathize with the pastor's sentiment. Heck, even if you're a westernized Jew, you probably sympathize with the Protestant preacher's assertion. Our western culture and Hellenized thinking is spreading all over world. This kind of thinking is prevalent and infectious, because everybody wants peace and nobody likes to talk about fighting evil. Evil should be tolerated, not fought. Heck, who's to say what's evil? There is no good and evil in our world. Everything's grey. Maybe you're evil for thinking I'm evil. Maybe we're all a little evil. Maybe God is evil. Maybe there is no God.

That's the point were at in today's culture.

Already you're thinking in the back of your mind, "Boy, this Judah guy is a little crazy. He's a little out there. Red flags!"

I must confess to you, dear blog reader, I'm not Seeker-Sensitive. I concede, I am not living a purpose-driven life, my apologies to Protestant pastor Rick Warren.

Now that you're fully suspicious of my theology and have reported me to the proper authorities, let it be known this peacenik kind of thinking is evident not from just one anecdotal piece of evidence. The Reverend Jeremiah Wright, pastor of US Presidential candidate Barack Obama, says the same thing in this sermon to his church, demonizing the psalmist for his plea for justice:

The above YouTube video, in an attempt to clear Obama's name and his pastor's name by showing the infamous sermon in context, only further damns this thinking.

Of course, unlike the psalmist, the good Reverend Wright has already forgot Jerusalem, if not become one of its most vocal critics.

An atheist man and a pacifist will try to convince you of the evil nature your beliefs, pointing to the Tenakh (Old Testament) where God approves of King Josiah's violent intolerance of the Baal worshipers (destroying the altars, killing the prophets), or where God commands the Levites to slaughter those who bowed to the golden calf. Or where God commands Israel to go and take the land God gave to them, driving out the inhabitants. 3 examples in a sea of many more.

What is the deal with anger and violence? Obviously, we have way too many people committing acts of violence in the name of God. Yeah, it's bad. But is there ever a time for righteous anger? Righteous violence? Is there ever a time when you should be zealous for God to the point of action -- even violence?

Let's answer the question why Messiah was zealous in righteous anger for the Temple, even to the point of violence.

I've heard some bizarre teachings on this. A foolish secular man, in his understandable and predictable need to explain Jesus' actions in the context of today's culture, once told me Messiah was angry in Temple because sacrifices were going on; Messiah was only trying to save the poor animals who were victims of men's foolish, deprecated religion.

I find this explanation particularly absurd, it was the Lord Himself who instituted sacrifices for sin as early on as Cain and Abel. He had put it in writing at Mt. Sinai when the Torah was written, and finally he made this full and complete with the sacrifice of Messiah as atonement for the sin of all.

The answer to why Messiah was angry and violent is not because sacrifices were going on.

I think the answer to this question is straightforward: the money changers were selling goods in the place God lived among us, the house of God, if you will. The Tabernacle, and later the great Temple in Jerusalem -- both were built to the precise, detailed specifications God gave to Israel in the Torah, both are pictures of what's in Heaven -- these contained the Holy of Holies: the innermost part of sanctuary where God's presence dwelt above the Ark of the Covenant.

Therefore, having folks buying and selling dirtied the holiest place on earth. If they were buying and selling on the sabbath, they were also breaking one of God's commandments.

In your western mind, you may think little of dirtying the Temple -- as a Christian, you probably could care less! And breaking the sabbath, well, that is now part of your routine.

But in the Hebrew mindset, one that more properly aligns with God's ways, such acts were so abhorrent and so despicable, Messiah found it necessary to step up for God and violently set things straight.

This is what drove Messiah to righteous, zealous anger.

Too often Christians are told that all forms of anger and violence are wrong, so this passage comes across to us as out-of-character for this peacenik Christ we've painted him to be. We often forget the acts of righteous anger found in Scripture -- whether Messiah at the Temple, the Levites after the golden calf, Josiah after the pagan altars -- these are things God deemed righteous, even though they do not fit with our no-violence, no-anger politically correct society and modern Christian doctrines. We also tend to forget that Messiah is the Lion of Judah who will come back to judge the nations and wage war against the enemies of Israel, toppling the false religious systems and haughty governments of today's secular society. That will be a sight to see! What will you, a gentile pacifist Christian, think of the violent Jewish revolutionary who calls himself "Messiah"?

Messiah was angry and violent towards those turning the Father's house into a marketplace. Messiah, the same one who said, "Blessed are the peace-makers" acted in righteous violence when the time was right. He was zealous for the Temple, even more than the rabbis of his time. How many Christians today can say the same?


  1. Judah,

    I have wanted to ask you in the past, but never did...now seems a good a time as any.

    Why do you paint with such a broad brush? You are an excellent writer and God seems to have given you the gift of teaching, but you seem to have the propensity to slap a label on everybody and everything. (Don't get me wrong, I am not throwing stones as I have owned my share of label makers :) The older I get the less I feel the need to do that.

    I see Jesus as both the Lion and the Lamb. I believe Jesus got angry in the Temple and drove out the money changers. I don't believe violence is always wrong. I could go right down the list. I don't dispute the existence of the preaching you describe, but I have never personally been the member of a church that had those "Greek peacenik adonis" beliefs. When you paint with a large enough brush everything gets wet.

    I also don't think that you mean to purport that Jesus isn't a merciful, kind, compassionate, tender loving God either.

    Also, why do you insist of dividing people into groups (seemingly in opposition); why do you throw up a wall of separation? The Bible clearly teaches against that.

    Read Ephesians 2:11-22 and Galatians 3:26-29

    I know that you have a Jewish heritage and I would never want to take that away from you, but we are one in Christ. We are both children of the living God and members of the body of Christ. I always have always pictured myself as a big toe :)

    One in Christ,

  2. Judah,
    I must agree with Mr Kirkham. I enjoy reading your posts as they do challenge me. I am even now in the process of asking how I can incorporate the feasts of God into my annual routine. However, they unnecessarily insult me as well. You know that I do not keep the Sabbath holy? Just how far may I carry my mat on the Sabbath and still keep it holy? What do you know of me.
    To the point on which you write today, yes Jesus was angry in the Temple, and at other times that were not noted in the Bible I would guess. There are no shortage of things humans do that deserve anger. Still I can quote scripture all day that warns of the danger of anger. Humans are not good at righteous anger. To be honest we are not good at righteous anything, but anger perhaps more so.
    You have served in the Israeli Army, I seem to recall? Military action is anger of a country (people). There are times when it is necessary, even appropriate. But it must be used carefully! I spent my time in the United States Marine Corps. I am not particularly offended by the idea of dashing children against rocks, because I know what monsters some children grow up to be, but who am I to judge? If God commands that I kill everyone, man woman and child in an area, then I shall seek with those skills I have to do that. If I believe that a people is evil I am much more inclined to be reserved. I have been wrong far too often.

    God Bless You
    Pat O

  3. Gary,

    The broad brush I have painted with is Christianity, stating it often views Jesus as the peacenik lamb? Is this not generally true? Keep in mind, I do realize there are exceptions to every generalization; I do not claim every Christian believes this.

    You said,

    I also don't think that you mean to purport that Jesus isn't a merciful, kind, compassionate, tender loving God either.

    Of course not. But we've heard that teaching one million times + 1; you don't need me to preach it. This is the point I'm making: we always look at the TLC Jesus and never the other side of the picture.

    Patrick, you said,

    You know that I do not keep the Sabbath holy? I carry my mat on the Sabbath and still keep it holy? What do you know of me.

    Is it not true that Christians by and large do not keep the Sabbath?

    Let the truth be known I didn't condemn anyone to hell for lack of Sabbath keeping, I only stated a single utterance on sabbath: that Christians by and large routinely break it.

    Patrick, on a more positive note, you said,

    Still I can quote scripture all day that warns of the danger of anger. Humans are not good at righteous anger. To be honest we are not good at righteous anything, but anger perhaps more so.

    Oh, I so deeply agree! In the blog post I linked to several things showing how horribly wrong humans have been at "righteous" violence. As a Jew, you need not convince me; the Crusades and the Inquisition and the Islamic fundamentalism has proven your point! Jews have been the victims of "righteous" violence perhaps more than any other group.

    So what am I saying? I am saying that not all violence is wrong, and not all anger is unrighteous. That statement goes directly against the grain of modern, pluralistic, western world.

    That's all.

    Shabbat shalom.

  4. Judah,

    As I wrote on my blog, please take this and my previous post in the spirit in which it was offered...oneness in Christ.

    You wrote:

    Keep in mind, I do realize there are exceptions to every generalization; I do not claim every Christian believes this.

    But don't you see, it is those very exceptions you mention that lead to division. I suspect that there are far fewer of your brothers in Christ that fall into the picture you are trying to paint than you might believe.

    But even if it is the majority, how will they be won over by putting them down. I believe what you are claiming about Jesus is correct, I am mearly suggesting a change in tone. Ephesians 4:15 encourages us to "speak the truth in love."

    In Christ,

  5. But don't you see, it is those very exceptions you mention that lead to division.

    Gary, I don't understand what you're saying. Are you saying we should we not talk about things that are wrong in our religion, all for the sake of unity?

    It is not rebuke that leads to division, but hardheartedness at the rebuke.

    Gary, I feel like you're interpreting Ephesians in the modern western way: love is all soft and fuzzy. You don't see the love I have for Christians because I strongly rebuke certain doctrines. (That's the way it comes across, anyways.)

    The Hebrew understanding of love is this: not all love is tender. Correction is a form of love, and often it is not tender. Sometimes tenderness isn't what's needed. Sometimes a strong word of rebuke is needed. Jesus dealt harshly with the religious leaders of his time -- all in love! -- and very often with words of strong rebuke. Religious people are generally tough nuts to crack when it comes to correction.

    If it's the putting down of Christians that you object to, well, I can use some work in that area, yeah. It's sometimes hard to separate doctrine from doctrine-espouser. :-)

  6. Judah,

    What I meant by that statement is this. Why generalize when you know that there are exceptions? It only ends up alienating the people that agree with truths you are trying to bring to light.

    And the other thing was, why put down the very people you are trying to convince? These aren't just some abstract group of people that need to be hammered till they get it right, they are your brothers and sisters in Christ. I know that you don't choose to call yourself a "Christian," but whatever label we choose to apply to them or apply to you, in Christ there is no difference between us.

    And for what it's worth I don't some fuzzy notion of what love is. Sometimes love is tough. I love you, in Christ, why else do you think I keep coming around :)

    In Christ,

  7. P.S.

    In no way am I asking you to stop proclaiming the truth...just to reconsider the way you do it.

  8. P.S.S.

    I woke up this morning and thought I should add one more thing. I hope I haven't come across as attacking you or being argumentative. That is the farthest thing from my intention and if I have come across that way, then I apologize.

    This isn't about the message you are sharing (I agree with it) and it isn't about harshness, because sometimes harshness is called for. It is more about mocking the people you are trying to help. Maybe you don't intend to mock, but that is the way it comes across...to me anyway.

    Unless you ask me some questions, I believe that this is all that I have to say on the subject. Thank you for encouraging us to see this side of the Messiah.

    In Christ,

  9. I figured that you weren't seeker sensitive when you posted that youtube video of John Piper :)...I think that this is a good article against the seeker sensitive movement:


    By C. H. Spurgeon

    An evil is in the professed camp of the Lord, so gross in its impudence, that the most shortsighted can hardly fail to notice it during the past few years. It has developed at an abnormal rate, even for evil. It has worked like leaven until the whole lump ferments. The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them.
    From speaking out as the Puritans did, the church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses.
    My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the church. If it is a Christian work, why did not Christ speak of it? "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). That is clear enough. So it would have been if He had added, "and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel." No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to him.
    Then again, "He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers .., for the work of the ministry" (Eph. 4:11-12). Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people or because they refused? The concert has no martyr roll.
    Again, providing amusement is in direct antagonism to the teaching and life of Christ and all his apostles. What was the attitude of the church to the world? Ye are the salt" (Matt. 5:13), not the sugar candy---something the world will spit out not swallow. Short and sharp was the utterance, "Let the dead bury their dead" (Matt. 8:22) He was in awful earnestness.
    Had Christ introduced more of the bright and pleasant elements into his mission, he would have been more popular when they went back, because of the searching nature of His teaching. I do not hear him say, "Run after these people Peter and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow, something short and attractive with little preaching. We will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it. Be quick Peter, we must get the people somehow." Jesus pitied sinners, sighed and wept over them, but never sought to amuse them.
    In vain will the Epistles be searched to find any trace of this gospel of amusement! Their message is, "Come out, keep out, keep clean out!" Anything approaching fooling is conspicuous by its absence. They had boundless confidence in the gospel and employed no other weapon.
    After Peter and John were locked up for preaching, the church had a prayer meeting but they did not pray, "Lord grant unto thy servants that by a wise and discriminating use of innocent recreation we may show these people how happy we are." If they ceased not from preaching Christ, they had not time for arranging entertainments. Scattered by persecution, they went everywhere preaching the gospel. They turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6). That is the only difference! Lord, clear the church of all the rot and rubbish the devil has imposed on her, and bring us back to apostolic methods.

    Lastly, the mission of amusement fails to effect the end desired. It works havoc among young converts. Let the careless and scoffers, who thank God because the church met them halfway, speak and testify. Let the heavy laden who found peace through the concert not keep silent! Let the drunkard to whom the dramatic entertainment has been God's link in the chain of the conversion, stand up! There are none to answer. The mission of amusement produces no converts. The need of the hour for today's ministry is believing scholarship joined with earnest spirituality, the one springing from the other as fruit from the root. The need is biblical doctrine, so understood and felt, that it sets men on fire.

    If you want a good book book about the 'church' in general today I would recommend John Macarthur's book ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL: When The Church Becomes Like The World.

    "This kind of thinking is prevalent and infectious, because everybody wants peace and nobody likes to talk about fighting evil. Evil should be tolerated, not fought." I agree!!!! People now days are more interested in unity no matter how 'un'unified on essential important beliefs we are. "love no matter what!" is the cry. But what is love? In the church that I go to (my dad is pastor) we had a discussion on how 'love' has so many meanings now, it differs from what real love, agape, is.

    Here is a pretty good definition of love:

    Love is the Queen of the Christian graces. It is a holy disposition given to us when we are born again by God. True spiritual love is characterized by meekness and gentleness, yet it is vastly superior to the courtesies and kindnesses of the flesh.

    We must be careful not to confuse human sentimentality, carnal pleasantries, and human amiability with true spiritual love. The love God commands, first to Himself and then to others, is not human love. If we indulgently allow our children to grow up with little or, no Scriptural discipline, Proverbs plainly says we do not love them, regardless of the human sentimentality and affection we may feel for them. Love is not a sentimental pampering of one another with a loose indifference as to our walk and obedience before the Lord. Glossing over one another’s faults to ingratiate ourselves in their esteem is not spiritual love.

    The true nature of Christian love is a righteous principle which seeks the highest good of others. The exercise of love is to be in strict conformity to the revealed will of God. We must love in the truth. Love among the brethren is far more than an agreeable society where views are the same. It is loving them for what we see of Christ in them, loving them for Christ’s sake.

    The Lord Jesus Himself is our example. He was not only thoughtful, gentle, self-sacrificing and patient, but He also corrected His mother, used a whip in the Temple, severely scolded His doubting disciples, and denounced hypocrites. True spiritual love is above all faithful to God and uncompromising towards all that is evil. We cannot declare, ‘Peace and Safety’ when in reality there is spiritual decay and ruin!

    True spiritual love is very difficult to exercise because it is not our natural love. By nature we would rather love sentimentally and engender good feelings. Also many times true spiritual love is not received in love, but is hated as the Pharisees hated it. We must pray that God will fill us with His love and enable us to exercise it without dissimulation toward all.”

    - A. W. Pink

    Christian unity is not a group of people who differ on what the essentials of their belief, or religion, are. We may have brothers in Christ who differ with us on non-essentials, such as those of whom Paul talks about in Romans 14, the weak Christians. “In essentials unity, in non- essentials liberty and in all things charity.” (I don’t remember the author of that quote)

    But with the essentials we must not compromise. We must stand firm. Be principled.

  10. Judah,

    I agree wholeheartedly that Jesus has been painted as a sissy who played with lambs for far too long. Correct me on this, but weren't the moneychangers selling their goods in the court of the gentiles, a place where gentiles who wanted to worship the LORD could come?

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  12. Judah,
    I even got flack from Messianics for posting something about Chanukah being a holiday celebrating the downfall and destruction of Hellenism over the Jewish people by way of the violence and military victories of the Makabim (Maccabees).

    SO many people are Hellenized with all these Greek ideas... its not even funny or amusing anymore. Instead, its sick.


  13. I know this is going to offend some of you, but know this, that whenever the pure Word of God is preached, it ALWAYS causes division. Sheep and the Goats, Matt 25.

    Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

    Yes the word does say that “how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”, ps133, but we are NOT talking here about those in fellowship with God, or those with correct doctrine. We are talking about those with a religious spirit.

    Yeshua was always an offense to those out of line and a loving companion to those with a humble heart.

    You MUST have both sides of God’s heart to have God’s heart. He feels unfathomable love for us at the same time His heart feels unfathomable pain. Those that are close to Him and those that are far.

    Remember, the next time we see Yeshua, we will see the lion NOT the lamb.

    Rev 19:13 He was wearing a robe that had been soaked in blood, and the name by which he is called is, "THE WORD OF GOD."

    Isa 63:1 Who is this, coming from Edom, from Botzrah with clothing stained crimson, so magnificently dressed, so stately in his great strength? "It is I, who speak victoriously, I, well able to save."

  14. I see there have been 6 comments since I took a relaxing weekend off!

    Thanks, all you guys, for the excellent commentary. I love this stuff.

    @Gary, the reason for generalizing is it's helpful to think about the majority than account for every possible deviation. Generalizations are useful in that way, generally speaking. ;-) I understand your point now, that you feel I'm mocking Christians. Well, I certainly don't intend that. I'll be careful; the tongue is a powerful thing.

    @Sarah, you quoted, “In essentials unity, in non- essentials liberty and in all things charity.” Ah, interesting take on things. The question then shifts to what is the essentials. Interesting. Thanks for the quote and the Charles Surgeon bits. The bits on true love are something we ought to remember as followers of Messiah. Thanks for that!

    @Haley, I believe they were selling in the outer courts of the Temple. The gospels seem only to indicate they were at the Temple.

    @Aharon - Hey Levite, you're preaching to the choir. :-)

    @Lou, thanks for the reinforcement. Isaiah 63 is an interesting one! Pretty violent too! We must remember that God's judgment and correction is as righteous as his mercy and forgiveness. The two must balance in some way -- all mercy isn't truly mercy, since it would be abused ("hey I can sin and God will never punish me, even if I don't repent!"). God's greatness shines in this wise balance of justice -- which includes judgment -- and mercy.

    The Lord himself knows we all deserve judgment, including myself; it's only those that keep coming to him in real repentance that realize his eventual mercy and forgiveness.

  15. Yes and Amen,

    Jer 9:24 but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things," declares the LORD.

    I often ponder this verse, what is it that the Lord of the universe delights in these things...

  16. I have truly enjoyed reading the words od sincere,dedicated and committed Believers. I am encouraged by Judahs revelation that many Rabbis know Yeshua as Messiah. I am also distressed by the many Christians that attempt to 'plow' people into submission according to their own personal views of what is right or wrong in all arenas.
    Yes there is a Righteous anger and the First one to iniate this is the Holy Spirit...Ruach HaKodesh...The Revenger Of Blood.
    Believers that are sensitive to Him realize this. The scriptures state that Yeshua said that we should seek Him as Comforter and He would show us things to come yet many are taught that they can not talk to or with The Holy Spirit (Reason together with Him)even though they have read the scripture many times. Many do not know and are not taught of Night Visions (Job) Dreams, Visions etc. from Almighty and Most High ElElyon and when they have such...they are fearful and do not understand any or much of it at all.Many churches teach that the gifts of The Spirit, Of God, Of Yeshua all were done away with when the Apostles were gone. They do not understand the 'gathering yourselves together as Believer' they interpret this as going to a church building two or three times a week and listen to someones interpretation of the word all of which has been souped down because of their pact with the gov and 501C3 which is again about money...but it is is VERY monitored and dictated what they can and can not preach. The result? Gods People Perish From Lack Of Knowledge Of Him His Ways, His Precepts, His Judgements and His Word.Preachers water down 'sermons' that will keep people giving their tithes to them and tickling their ears.
    Most are not taught from birth and most do not understand the ways of Gods People and Judaism. I am so thankful that our Brothers and Sisters such as yourself have been led to help teach and enlighten. The void has been so vast for far too long and Believers seek Truth...at least I do and those I know do.Thank You
    Baruch Attah Adonai
    Gracie Miller

  17. Thank you for the kind words and the insight, Gracie. Be blessed.