We don’t believe the phrase “and the Lord was wroth” in the scriptures anymore. We don’t believe it is really true.
When we won’t believe the scriptures no matter how plainly or bluntly they state something, we are looking to some other source rather than to God for truth about him.
Brigham Young stated: “As to religion, we believe in the Old and New Testament, and consider it unnecessary to hire learned divines to interpret the Scriptures; we receive them as they are …” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol 10, discourse 46, 229-232)
For example, in Deuteronomy 1 Moses is recounting the time when the Israelites were afraid to go up into the land of Israel. We read:
Deuteronomy 1: 34 And the Lord heard the voice of your words, and was wroth, and sware, saying,
35 Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers,
36 Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon, and to his children, because he hath wholly followed the Lord.
37 Also the Lord was angry with me for your sakes, saying, Thou also shalt not go in thither.
38 But Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in thither: encourage him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.
If we won’t believe Moses that God was wroth, will we at least consider what God’s actions say about this? In response to the Israelites rebellion they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years and the Lord swore that none of them but Caleb and Joshua would enter the land. If we ponder the weight of that decree, can we not recognize that the Lord really was wroth? The Israelites spent the next 40 years wandering through the wilderness, and all that were not children died off except for Joshua and Caleb who stood firm while Israel rebelled. Doesn’t that SOUND like the Lord really was wroth?
If Moses, who spoke with the Lord in person on multiple occasions says the Lord was wroth. We, who know him only “through a glass darkly” really have no right to be correcting Moses and saying that we know otherwise.
Think about when Christ cleanses the temple on two occasions in the New Testament. Do we believe that he was wroth then? Or do we think he was just “going through the motions”? Have no doubt that separating money changers from their money was a brutal affair. Can’t we recognize that Christ, who was the same God in the new testament that he was in the old, was wroth with those who made his house a den of thieves when he drove them out forcibly with a cat of nine tails?
We have men in the scriptures who spoke face to face with the Lord, and come back telling us the Lord was wroth with the people at one time or another, and we don’t believe them. These men spoke with the Lord like we speak with one another. They dealt with him in person. Their language was perfectly plain. How could we doubt them in favor of our own prejudices and traditions?
When we alter the character of God according to our own whims then we aren’t we remaking him in the image of man?
Yes, God is love. No, that isn’t the hippy idea of love that we have grown up with since the sixties. His love doesn’t alter his justice nor does it change the fact he can be wroth with people for their actions any more than any parent’s love makes it impossible for them to be angry with their children.
And why does it matter? I conclude with Joseph Smith’s words:
I want to ask this congregation, every man, woman and child, to answer the question in their own heart, what kind of a being God is? Ask yourselves; turn your thought into your hearts, and say if any of you have seen, heard, or communed with him. This is a question that may occupy your attention for a long time. I again repeat the question–What kind of a being is God? Does any man or woman know? Have any of you seen him, heard him, or communed with him? Here is the question that will, peradventure, from this time henceforth occupy your attention. The Scriptures inform us that “This is life eternal that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.”
If any man does not know God, and inquires what kind of a being he is,–if he will search diligently his own heart–if the declaration of Jesus and the apostles be true, he will realize that he has not eternal life; for there can be eternal life on no other principle.
My first object is to find out the character of the only wise and true God, and what kind of a being he is; and if I am so fortunate as to be the man to comprehend God, and explain or convey the principles to your hearts, so that the Spirit seals them upon you, then let every man and woman henceforth sit in silence, put their hands on their mouths, and never lift their hands or voices, or say anything against the man of God or the servants of God again. (TPJS page 344)
If we decide to alter God’s character to fit our traditions, then we are putting up stakes for the almighty. We are saying what he can do and who he can really be
When we have a man like Moses who spoke face to face with the Lord come back and tell us that the Lord was wroth, or that one thing or another was pleasing to the Lord, we should simply believe him. We cannot possibly come to know anything about the character of God if, we refuse to believe the plain words of a man that has spoken face to face with God.