Exodus 32 & Numbers 20 - 4 Ways To Control Your Anger

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Thomas S. Myers

4 Ways To Control Your Anger

Exodus 32 & Numbers 20


            As you take a close look at the life of Moses you discover he had a problem controlling his anger.  In Exodus chapter 2 he killed an Egyptian (Exodus 2:11-12).  In Exodus 32:19 Moses sees the golden calf that the children of Israel had made for worship. In his anger, Moses throws down the tablets of stone, shattering the 2 stone tablets that God had made.  In Numbers 20:10-12, Moses, filled with anger, disobeys God and the result was that God would not let Moses enter into the promise land. 

            Moses is not the only one with a problem of anger.  More than likely you also have had a problem with anger.  Lets take a test to see if you have a problem with anger.  When you get angry, do you get angry against the person rather than the offense?  Do you have a desire for revenge?  Do you have a hard time forgiving others?  Do you get angry easily?  Do you have a reputation for losing your temper?  If your answer is yes, then you have a problem losing your temper.  Lets look at God's word and find out how to control anger. 

            The context of Exodus chapter 32 is that Moses has been up on a mountain talking with God for a number of days.  He has received from God the 10 commandments and the outline for building the tabernacle that will be used in worshipping God.  But it has been

days since he has been seen by the congregation of Israel.  So Moses' brother Aaron is encouraged to make a god out of a golden calf.  So while Moses is speaking with God, his congregation is worshipping a calf.  Look at Exodus 32:1-10.  



                Notice from Exodus 32:10 that is proper to be angry at sin.  You will see that one of the characteristics of  God is that He gets angry against sin. Look at what God says to Moses.

Exodus 32:10

10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation." (NIV)

                God has a righteous anger against sin.  There is a proper use of anger.  Some people think that all anger is sin.  That is not the case.  Notice what Ephesians 4: 26 says about that.

Ephesians 4:26

26 "In your anger do not sin." (NIV)

            Ephesians 4:26 says that in our anger we are not to sin.  That is, there are some things we are to be angry at.   We are not to get angry to the point that it drives us to sin.  Look at Mark 3:5 and you will see that Jesus got angry. 


Mark 3:5

5 Jesus looked around at the Pharisees in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. (NIV)

            Jesus did not lose his temper.  He didn't yell in a fit of rage, but He was angry.  He was angry at the sin of the Pharisees. 

            Sin ought to move you to anger.  Abraham Lincoln in his younger days, went down to the slave market in New Orleans.  There he saw a black girl being auctioned as a slave.  Abraham Lincoln said he felt a righteous indignation coming over him.  And he said to his friend, "That is wrong, and one of these days, if I have a chance to stop it, I'm going to stop it."

            I'm angry that over 30,000,000 babies have been aborted.  I'm angry that thousands of children are being sexually and physically abused.  But my anger is not to drive me to sin.  For example, I heard of a business man went to the hospital to visit his partner, who was dying from being poisoned.  Suddenly the dying man said, "Before I die I must confess some things to you and ask your forgiveness.  I want you to know that I robbed the firm of $100,000.  I sold our secret formula to our competitors, and also, I'm the one who supplied your wife with the evidence that helped her get her divorce that cost you a fortune."  The business man said, "Oh, that's O.K.  I'm the guy who poisoned you."  There is to be a proper use of anger.


            Moses illustrates the improper use of anger.

Exodus 32:15-19

15 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. 16 The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets. 17 When Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, "There is the sound of war in the camp." 18 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." 19 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. (NIV)

             What is this all about?  Well, Moses has been on a mountain top talking with God.  And as he is working his way down the mountain, he sees the golden calf that they people were worshipping.  Notice the improper use of his anger. 

EXODUS 31:19

19 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. (NIV)

            In rage, Moses takes the two stone tablets that contained the law of God , and he throws them down. And the result is that they shatter.  You say, "Pastor, are you sure Moses lost his temper?"  Yes, I am.  Let me ask you a question.  Who made the stone tablets?  God did.  Who wrote on the stone tablets?  God did.  Look at Exodus 32:16


Exodus 32:16

16 The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets. (NIV)

            Now look at Exodus 34:1.  When God wants to replace the 2 stone tablets, is God going to make the tablets and give them to Moses again?  No way.  Moses in his anger broke the stone tablets and now God says in Exodus 34:1 says, "Moses, you replace the 2 stone tablets."    

Exodus 34:1

1 The LORD said to Moses, "Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. (NIV)


            What is God saying," "Moses, I provided the 2 stone tablets, but in your fit of anger you broke them.  Now you replace them."  Here is the point, there is an improper use of anger. And not only is there an improper use of anger, there is another principle.


            You don't just walk away from being angry.  You can lose respect.


Colossians 3:21

21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. (NIV)

            You can lose your children.  You can even lose your wife, and you can even use lose your  job.  There is a cost to anger.  I heard of a tough store manager who was walking through the packing room one day when he saw a young man lounging on a shipping crate, whistling and relaxing.  In anger he asked how much he was paid.  The young man answered, "$120 a week."  At that, the manager took out his wallet, grabbed some bills and threw them at the young man.  And then said, "Here's a week's pay.  Get out of here!"  The manager immediately found the department head and demanded to know who had hired the young man.  He replied, "We didn't hire him.  He was just here to pick up a package."  Anger can be costly. 

Proverbs 27:4

Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming. (NIV)


Proverbs 30:33

33  For as churning the milk produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife." (NIV)

            Did you know that Moses' anger cost him deeply.  Look at Numbers 20:8.  The children of Israel are grumbling that there is no water.  Now notice in verse 8 what God tells Moses to do about the water shortage. 

Numbers 20:8

8 "Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink." (NIV)

            God says, "Moses, there is a big rock over there.  I want you to go and just speak to the rock and water will flow out of it."  Now look at verse 9, 10 & 11 and see if Moses obeys God.

Numbers 20:9-11

9 So Moses took the staff from the LORD's presence, just as he commanded him. 10 He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, "Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?" 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank. (NIV)

            Did Moses obey God?  No, instead of just speaking to the rock, Moses loses his temper, chews out the people and he hit the rock twice.  Are there going to be any consequences for his anger?  Most certainly.  Look at verse 12.

Numbers 20:12

12 But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them." (NIV)

            Moses' number one dream was to enter the promise land.  But the consequences  of Moses' anger were that he could not enter the promised land. 



            The devil has 6 steps to ruin you.  What are they?  Ephesians 4:31 gives us the 6 steps. 

Ephesians 4:31

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. (NIV)

            The first step is "BITTERNESS."  The Greek word literally refers to "a bitter root, resulting a bitter fruit."  Bitterness results when we refuse to forgive.  When you fail to forgive, what happens is a root of bitterness springs up in our

life.  And that root will grow and take hold of your life.  That root  results into the second  step of RAGE NIV, (KJV RAGE).  The

Greek word literally means hot.  What happens is a slow burn results.  What happens is, when you get bitter, you begin to boil inside.  But bitterness does not stop there.  There is a third step in Ephesians 4:31.  The third step is anger NIV, (KJV WRATH).  The Greek word refers to that which is on the inside now spills over on the outside.  You see bitterness is like a pan of boiling water.  First the water is hot.  Then it begins to boil, and eventually it boils over.  The fourth step is brawling NIV, (KJV clamor).  This is when the tongue gets lose.  The Greek word means to become vocal.  You enter into a vocal contest.  You get into a war of words.  That leads to the fifth step of  slander NIV, (KJV evil speaking).  The Greek word means slander, or a speech that injures.  It is no longer just an argument, now it is name calling.  You will say things that you wish you had never said.   The slander then turns to the sixth step of MALICE NIV, (KJV MALICE).  The Greek word means to injure.  This is where you desire to hurt someone.  Maybe you will kick them, or shove them.



            First:   You need to recognize that you have a problem with being angry.  In order to put your problem away, you need to squarely face the problem.  Admit that you have been angry. 

            Second:  You need to repent of it.  Ephesians 4:31 says, "Get rid of all bitterness, rage

and anger, brawling and slander, along

with every form of malice." (NIV)   Are you willing to get ride of your anger?  Then there is a third step.

            Third:  You need to forgive completely. 

 Ephesians 4:32

32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (NIV)

            God has forgiven you.  You need to forgive others.  Jesus forgave the very worst of people. 

Luke 23:34

 Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."  (NIV)

            Jesus said this while he was enduring the pain of the cross.  In 1947 Corrie Ten Boom was speaking on forgiveness.  After her message a German came up to her and said, "Don't you remember me?  I was one of the guards at the camp where you were confined."  "Immediately" relates Corrie  "I felt a surge of hatred for this man.  This was one of the cruelest guards at the camp.  I thought of how my Father, brother and sister had died at the camp.  The former nazi prison guard said, "I have prayed since becoming a Christian, that I might meet one of the survivors of the camp and ask for forgiveness.  Will you forgive me?"  Corrie said to herself, "I wanted to say no, but I had just spoke about forgiveness."  She could not even extend her hand to the man to shake his hand. So she prayed, "God help me to forgive this man."  She then reached out to shake the man's hand and as her hand met the man's, the love of  God poured through her body and she said, "I forgive you."

            You can forgive just as God has forgive you.  If you have a problem with anger lets this prayer be your prayer.  "Father I know there has been times of bitter anger in my life.  I thank you that you are willing to remove my anger and forgive me.  I now forgive those who have hurt me.  Amen."

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