Three things are mentioned here - with the last being the most severe. Wrath is the first thing mentioned. The word used here is "hemah" and it means to be hot with anger. It signifies anger, hot displeasure, indignation, or rage. It was used to speak of a person's burning anger as well as once to speak of God's intense anger toward those who practiced idolatry in 2 Kings 22:17. We are told that this kind of burning anger is fierce. When people have this kind of burning wrath toward something - or probably in this context someone - they can be both fierce and cruel. For the most part, God encourages us to refrain from this kind of wrathful, hot anger and rage.
The second word used in this proverb is anger. This is the oft used Hebrew word "aph" and it refers literally to a flared nostril or the way a face is altered when a person is angry. Except for only a few instances, this kind of anger is viewed negatively in the Word. What is fascinating is the two or three examples where an exception is given. This anger is expressed in a passion and desire for God to be glorified. Because He is not - then the anger rises in one who speaks or acts on behalf of God and His honor and glory. We see that this word is described as coming in a flood. The word for flood means a mighty torrent of water - probably something like a flash flood. God's judgment is mentioned as coming this way in Nahum 1:8 where God says, "But with an overflowing flood He will make a complete end of its site, And will pursue His enemies into darkness." When God's anger is loosed in judgment - it will be like a flash flood - like a tsunami that will crush all that stands against Him. But when humans act this way - it is usually when someone blows his or her top. Like a volcanic eruption - the person just blows - and the result is seldom anything but problematic and damaging to whomever is unfortunate enough to be in its path.
As said at the beginning of this devotion - three things are mentioned here - with wrath and flared anger being those two of those three things. But the third is considered the worst them. That is jealousy. The word here is "qana" and it means to be jealous with great zeal. It describes a person who has an intense fervor, passion, and emotion that supercedes that of a person with wrath or anger. This is seen in the Word as both good and bad in various situations. Phinehas was filled with this jealousy when he acted on the Lord's behalf in Numbers 25:11. Seeing an Israelite man walk right in front of the tent of meeting with a Midianite woman - intending to have sex with her - filled Phinehas with a jealousy for God's glory that moved him to act. This kind of sin was only a precursor to Israel stumbling headlong into Baal worship and its practice of sensuality and sexual immorality as worship of their false god. Incensed and filled with passion and godly jealousy - Phinehas pierced both the man and the woman through with a spear as they engaged in this wicked act. God praised Phinehas for his godly jealousy in this passage. But jealousy can also be evil. Proverbs 14:30 warns agaisnt a passion that is rottenness in the bones. The wrong kind of jealousy - for our own honor and praise - for what we want and think we deserve - can eat us alive.
In the end - God experiences all three of these things in His great love for His honor and glory. His wrath is fierce, and His anger can come like a wave crashing against the wickedness of man. But these two things cannot measure against His great love for His people manifest by His godly jealousy and zeal for them to love Him and honor Him as He deserves. We read in James that God's Spirit desires us to the point of envy. God has redeemed us and bought us for Himself. What He has done in bringing us to life - paying for our sins - and calling us unto Himself - He longs for it. He longs to see us tear down every idol and cast out any other love - and to be completely devoted to Him. Who can stand before such a jealousy!?
Here is the amazing thing about this proverb. Our first response to this should be to cower in fear at the manifestation of God's wrath and anger. These things have been seen in ways that would drop any man alive to his knees. We would prostrate ourselves before God in terror at His wrath and anger - fearing and trembling for our lives as we watch Him bring the just deserts of the wicked upon their heads. But what we experience as believers is the Lord's jealousy for the work He has done in us. He longs for us to fully embrace the grace He has given us - to fully access all that His Spirit is willing to do in us. And He does so with a jealous passion to see us as the very trophies of His grace and kind work in our souls and bodies. Who can stand before such blazing love? Who would dare to oppose Him in His quest to destroy every idol in our hearts and have every part of us as His sole possession? Oh, that we would see the love of God in all of its shining glory and passionate heat. We cannot stand before it - we cannot imagine the depth of His love. All we can do is fall before Him and see ourselves consumed in the loving flames of His glorious, jealous passion that in Christ Jesus He will finally be glorified in His saints.