I finished reading Ezekiel this week, and while most of it was obscure and almost incomprehensible for me, there is one theme I saw over and over which is God’s heart towards his people and sin. One question I think about that I’ve heard from people who doubt God and question him is the idea that God is not good because he sends people to hell or that maybe God even delights in sending people to hell, or at least doesn’t mind. Then those people stray away from God. I mean if God delighted in the death of the wicked, I think I would be hesitant too. Seems a little twisted.
However, that’s actually not how God feels at all.
Ezekiel 18:23-32. You can see that what God delights in, is not in the death of the wicked or unrighteous, but rather he delights in those wicked and unrighteous people repenting.
He asks (vs 23) “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? [...] Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?
Then he goes on to declare about how if righteous people pursue wickedness they will not live, but if the wicked turn from their evil deeds and pursue righteousness they will live... so may we always pursue righteousness!
And then “Therefore, oh house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “Repent! Turn away from your offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone. Repent and live!”
God is not concerned with our list of acts of wickedness or righteous deeds. He concerned about our heart of repentance. That we would turn from our offenses and not allow sin to cause our downfall.
I don’t know how you come to the Lord today. Whether you are burdened with guilt from your sins or wallowing in self righteousness and pride, but what God wants for you is to continually come back and turn from your sin, to leave it behind, and to look towards Jesus to give you a new heart and a new spirit.
It’s interesting to think about how these verses apply today since most people think that accepting Christ once is all it takes, as if you don’t have to listen to God’s word any more now that you’re saved. We’re righteous now right, covered by the blood of the lamb? I might encourage you to stop and think about your salvation if you’re not living a life with a repentant attitude. Verse 24 says “But if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked man does, will he live? None of the righteous things he has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness he is guilty of and because of the sins he has committed, he will die.” Are you a “righteous” man and doing wicked deeds and not looking to Christ and the Holy Spirit to help you overcome? You just may die. And I mean that to question how seriously you’ve taken your salvation and to encourage you to reconsider what you’re living your life for. There will be more hope for a wicked man who repents than that righteous man who continues in wickedness, trusting in his own righteousness (Ezekiel 33:13).
And God pleads with you “Why will you die?!”
So repent, repent and live! And trust in the righteousness of the Lord!