The phrase, “the burning anger of Yahweh” is a translation, perhaps an interpretation, that is meant to elicit to us what is happening in regards to God’s relationship to man. The Hebrew directly reads, “the burning of Yahweh’s nostrils” see, for example, Exodus 32:12; Numbers 25:4; Deuteronomy 13:17 and many other places in the Old Testament. God’s nostrils flare when He is crossed, when His law is transgressed, when something does not accord with His commands and goes against His will, when His covenant is broken. God, the great Law-giving King has a face full of fury and anger when He is disobeyed. When His nostrils flare He is about ready to raise His iron scepter and declare judgment to be executed on the rebels. Pick your enemy, God’s nostrils flare at them all, and they will be conquered.
This is what Paul lets us in on 1 Corinthians 15:23-28, “But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For ‘He has put all things under His feet.’ But when He says ‘all things are put under Him,‘ it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.”
Paul says all enemies will be placed under Jesus’s feet. Each one. No exceptions. And Jesus reveals the same thing to John in the Book of Revelation, ” I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death” (1:18). Jesus, through His victory over the grave, now controls death and Hades. And let us not forget Jesus’s confirmation of Paul’s testimony in 1 Corinthians 15 (you know, on the testimony of two witnesses) when He said, “The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death” (20:13-14).
And we know that Jesus will do this because He gave us a taste of it at Lazarus’ tomb. When Lazarus, the friend of Jesus, succumbed to the curse of sin, namely death, Jesus went to conquer it and liberate His friend. Hades, according to the Word of Jesus, is about to spit out the dead, and what’s more is that Jesus is angry at death.
Like the anger exhibited in Yahweh’s burning nostrils, the anger of being transgressed by an enemy, Jesus marches to the tomb of Lazarus snorting like a warhorse. In John 11:33, and 38, the translation of “groaning” is also the same word used for the snorting of a warhorse in battle.
At the mouth of Hades Jesus speaks in His burning anger and commands the grip of death to be broken. Lazarus, in his grave clothes, walks out of the tomb into the presence of Jesus at the cry of the Lord, “Loose him, and let him go!” And this is the reality for every friend of God (John 15:14-15): death is undone. The fierce anger of the Lord burns against it and death will not stand. Jesus holds the keys to death and Hades and no one who bears His Name will be held within those bars. The end of death is death and this done only through the life of Jesus.
“So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’
“O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”
1 Corinthians 15:54-55