Sodom and Gomorrah
According to the Bible, Sodom and Gomorrah were two cities situated on the Jordan River that God destroyed in the Book of Genesis. After God informs Abraham of his plans, Abraham pleads for the city but is unable to find even 10 righteous men worth sparing. God ultimately destroys the cities with “fire and sulfur,” although he does spare Abraham’s nephew Lot and his family as a courtesy to Abraham.
However, not even all of Lot’s family escapes God’s wrath. As they are preparing the flee the city of Sodom, an angel of God instructs them to not look back as they ride away. Lot’s wife can’t resist though and does--at which point she is turned into a pillar of salt. No one can say for sure why salt, but it’s clearly not an ideal situation regardless.
Jesus Curses a Fig Tree
Humans are usually the objects of God’s wrath, but that’s not always the case. For example, in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, Jesus is hungry and finds a fig tree. When he sees it has no fruit to give, he curses it by saying, “May no fruit ever come from you again!”
This narrative remains a bit enigmatic to this day, but ultimately we’re left with a story about a God yelling at a tree. It’s not the most fantastical display of his wrath, but it’s definitely the most unusual.
10 Plagues of Egypt
In the Book of Exodus, the Israelites are being held as slaves in Egypt. God instructs Moses to tell Pharaoh to, “Let my people go,” and when Pharaoh refuses, he unleashes a torrent of 10 plagues on everything in Egypt--land, livestock, plant life, and even people.
These plagues include turning the Nile river to blood, afflicting humans and animals with boils, and plunging the land of Egypt into perpetual darkness. The story reaches its climax when God sends an angel of death to kill the firstborn son in every Egyptian household.
Things did not go so well for God in the years between Adam and Noah. Adam himself disobeyed God, and that pretty much opened the disobedience floodgates for every human that came after him. In Genesis chapter 6, God goes as far as to say that he regrets creating humankind and devises a plan to wipe them out with a global flood.
From God’s perspective, this works like a charm--he set out to destroy humanity and accomplished his goal. However, even God’s wrath has its limits, and therefore he spares Noah and his family and establishes a covenant with him that he will never destroy the earth by a flood again.
God Curses Cain
In the Book of Genesis, Cain and Abel are the first two sons of Adam and Eve. After offering individual sacrifices to God, Cain is enraged to learn that God prefers his brother Abel’s sacrifice over his own. Naturally, the correct response is to murder Abel.
When God finds out what Cain has done, he springs into wrath mode and levels a curse at Cain. For his misdeeds, he will be forced to wander the earth for the rest of his life. On top of that, he also places a curse on anyone who attempts to murder Cain--ensuring that the punishment will last until his old age.
The Seven Bowls of God's Wrath
The Book of Revelation often reads like one big bundle of wrath, but there are some spots that are more wrathful than others. Case in point--the seven bowls of God’s wrath found in Revelation 16 which correspond to horrific plagues released upon the earth.
At this point in the narrative, we’ve already been through two other sets of plagues, but the third and final set found in the seven bowls really take the cake. They include poisoning all bodies of water on earth, darkness over the kingdom of the antichrist, and a global earthquake--complete with 100-pound hailstones.
The Judgment of the Two Beasts
In the Book of Revelation, God’s primary antagonists are the two beasts--a beast from the sea and a beast from the Earth. Since the book was written, Christians have been debating on what these two figures represent, but regardless of who they are, things don’t go well for them.
Near the end of the book, the two beasts attempt a war with God. When they inevitably lose, they are thrown into “the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.”
The Assyrian Captivity
After God gives the Promised Land to the Israelites in the Old Testament, the unified kingdom of Israel splits into two. In the northern kingdom, they have a tendency to worship other gods, which is obviously a problem for God. So, he enlists the help of the enemies of the Israelites--the Assyrians.
King Tilgath of Assyria conquers the northern kingdom, causing its people to go into exile. God had told the Israelites before that he would take the land from them if they disobeyed, and he made good on his promise.
Moses & Others Not Allowed to Enter Canaan
Remember all that wandering in the desert the Israelites did? That wasn’t a lack of GPS--it was God’s wrath. In the Book of Numbers, 12 Israelite spies are sent to scope out Canaan, the land God had promised them. When their report is all doom and gloom, the Israelites don’t really want to enter. God isn’t thrilled, and so he forces them to wander in the desert for 40 years until that generation of complainers had died.
Poor Moses, God’s right-hand man, gets denied entry for even pettier reasons. Once when the Israelites were thirsty, God instructs Moses to speak to a rock, at which point it would give water. Instead, Moses in his anger strikes the rock. And for that alone, he never gets the chance to enter the land that God had promised him and all the Israelites.
Jesus Cleanses the Temple
For the most part, Jesus is deserving of his “meek and mild” descriptor. But there are few times in the Gospels when he flips that (among other things) on its head.
In all four Gospels, there is an account of Jesus entering the Temple at Jerusalem, where he proceeds to flip tables and shout at the money changers doing business there. The specifics of his ire vary from Gospel to Gospel, but it’s clear that God was not down with the commerce going down in the Temple.
The Golden Calf
God may have kept Moses out of the Promised Land, but for most of his life, the two were on the same page--especially when it came to the disobedience of the Israelites. The story of the golden calf in Exodus is the perfect example.
While Moses was up on Mount Sinai receiving the 10 Commandments from God, the rest of the Israelites were growing restless--to the point where they gave up on this Yahweh character and decided to construct a golden calf to worship instead. Moses and God are none too pleased. God suggests complete annihilation, but Moses has a compromise--he ground the calf into powder, put it in water, and forced the Israelites to drink it.
David & Bathsheba
When David commits adultery with Bathsheba and then has her husband killed, it’s clear David is going to be punished. But really, David himself makes out okay--instead, God punishes him by hurting those around him.
As punishment for adultery, David and Bathsheba’s unnamed child dies shortly after it is born. However, God would go on to punish more of David’s children for the murder he was responsible for.
Ananias & Sapphira
Ananias and Sapphira can be found in the Book of Acts, and they prove that you can’t pull a fast one on God.
In the Book of Acts, the early church pooled their money and resources in common. Ananias and Sapphira sell a plot of land and give most of the proceeds to the church but keep some for themselves. When Peter calls the two out, they both drop dead on the spot.
Phineas the Priest
God makes it very clear that the Israelites are supposed to worship no one but him, but they just can’t seem to get the message. In Numbers 25, it says that Moabite women seduced the Israelites into worshiping their gods.
God sends a plague that kills 24,000, and it only ends when Phineas the priest impales an unlucky couple who happen to show up at the wrong time. It’s one of the more gruesome accounts in the Bible.
Elisha and the Bears
In the Book of 2 Kings, Elijah is carried up to Heaven in a chariot of fire, at which point Elisha takes over as a prophet of Israel. As he is walking to Bethel, a group of young people tease him, telling him to “go up bald-head!” How does God resolve the issue? Bears, of course.
Just then, two bears emerge from the forest and maul 42 of the young people. Baldness is clearly a serious issue for God.