Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
A lot of people seem to have a misconception that God is eager to punish us every time we step out of line. But that viewpoint doesn’t match up with what the Bible says about God. He is not gleefully sending people to hell or rejoicing to punish the wicked. He doesn’t take pleasure in death, but in life. He doesn’t want people to remain in their wicked state, but to become much more than that. But everyone has to make their own choice. The result of life or death comes from our choice to follow God or rebel against Him.
So often it seems like the nation of Israel was looking at the commands of God as some sort of unfair set of rules they were forced to obey, but really they were a blueprint for them on how to live a good life. And so many people today look at living a Christian life as restricting, but following Jesus is the only kind of life that brings true satisfaction and fulfillment. It is the only path to life. So let’s not cling so stubbornly to those evil ways, but forsake them and the death that comes along with them.
But just because God doesn’t want to punish doesn’t mean He won’t. A holy God cannot tolerate sin, and so He has to judge it, but there is still time to experience His mercy. He gave Israel warnings and opportunities to repent, but they wouldn’t listen to Him, and so they faced the harsh consequences of their choice. And He has given us ample warnings in His Word about what awaits those souls who refuse to accept Him, and He has given us this time of grace to realize our sinfulness and turn to Him.
God doesn’t rejoice when people die in their wicked state and face eternal death. He wants us all to choose life. It is there available to us. So let’s not pridefully or stubbornly push Him away. Let’s not choose a life of sin and evil over the glorious one that He offers to us. His heart is so earnestly on display when He pleads with His people, and it is a heart of love that seeks each of us and longs to draw us into His arms. So let’s not reject our loving God, but instead forsake all the evil that separates us from Him.