God gets too emotionally involved with his clients. They cry, he cries; they hurt, he hurts.
They suffer, he, well . . . gets angry. Really angry! No sitting behind the desk for God as if he were some detached professional. When his people are treated wrongly, he gets upset.
There’s a story in Genesis 34 which I think captures this truth. Jacob and his family are traveling in the land of Canaan and settle in the city of Shechem. One day, his daughter Dinah is going about her business and is suddenly accosted by the ruler’s son, Shechem. He takes her and rapes her.
When the news is brought to Jacob, he does nothing. In fact, verse 5 says he kept quiet (lit., “showed deafness,” as if he didn’t see or hear a thing). Fear was his dominant emotion. As a foreigner, he was more concerned about his own personal security than the well-being of his daughter. Thus, he chooses to do nothing rather than “upset the applecart.”
Jacob’s passivity, however, did not sit well with Dinah’s brothers. They were filled with grief and fury. The original language indicates that they were in great pain—feeling tortured themselves—and that they were “exceedingly angry” because of the injustice committed against their sister.
In their wrath, the brothers schemed a way to avenge their sister. They tell the Shechemites that if they will become circumcised, they will enter into an agreement to intermarry with them. The Shechemites naively consent. Three days later, at the height of their pain and vulnerability, Dinah’s brothers take advantage of their enemies and kill every man and ransack the city.
The anger of Dinah’s brothers, seems to me, is commensurate with the violation their sister suffered. Three times in the chapter the word used for rape is “defiled” which means desecrated, a word used for the defilement of the Temple recorded in Psalm 79. What was done to Dinah was equivalent to profanity of the highest degree. Hence, the brothers are rightly enraged.
This story is certainly not a justification of deceit and the use of brutality among our enemies, but it does give us a window, however imperfect, into God’s heart. Jacob fails to represent God and how he feels toward us when we are wronged. The brothers, by contrast, do a better job of depicting the righteous indignation God experiences when one of his children is mistreated.
The events of Genesis 34 remind me of one of my favorite all-time movie scenes. It takes place early in The Patriot (2000) starring Mel Gibson. Set in South Carolina during the American Revolution, Gibson, a reputed veteran of the French and Indian War and widower with seven young children, is reluctantly thrust into the fight for freedom after tragedy lands on his doorstep. A British Colonel mercilessly shoots and kills one of his sons before him and takes another son prisoner.
After the British leave, Gibson rushes into his burning home, grabs his arsenal of weapons, and orders his next two oldest sons to assist him on an ambush of the unit escorting Gabriel, his shackled son and their older brother. Gibson skillfully, yet savagely, kills many soldiers with both his musket and tomahawk.
Admittedly, the scene is gruesome. There is no want of bloodshed. But what I find redemptive is the display—however misguided—of a father’s passion for his sons. Gibson will not be denied the opportunity to express his deeply rooted love for those bearing his name. Boiling over, he rises up and strikes back.
Why is this important?
God is incensed–infuriated–when you are taken advantage of. He is affected at the core of his being when his sons and daughters are mistreated. He knows nothing about coolness and calmness. His gets worked up when his people are oppressed and trampled upon.
What difference does knowing this truth make in your life?
Let me respond with a question: How does it make you feel knowing that your pain, your anguish, every wrong committed against you, deeply moves God?
Valued? Prized? Honored? Loved? I think so.
Tell this truth to the victim of child abuse. Tell this to the woman whose husband left her for a younger, more attractive playgirl. Tell this to the teen-ager who is constantly ridiculed by her peers because of her looks. Tell this to the man who is cut from his job after 27 years of faithful service because his company is “reorganizing.”
These people need more than a God who understands or who gives good counsel. They need a God who feels for them, a God who is aroused when injustice is suffered by his own.
Such is our God!
“Don’t you dare lay a hand on my anointed, don’t hurt a hair on the heads of my prophets.” (Ps. 105:15)