Ezekiel 18 :: The Soul Who Sins Shall Die (and it does not please God)

I was doing some Bible reading this morning, and I came upon Ezekiel 18. This passage has caused me some discomfort because of the way it, at first glance, seems to cast God in the light of having to do something He doesn’t want to do; and it doesn’t jive with my knowledge of God’s sovereign will (His Will of Decree; not His Will of Command). Let me quote you the part of it I am talking about.

The subtitle of this chapter in my Bible (ESV) is “The Soul Who Sins Shall Die.” It (as you might expect) is a message from the LORD through the prophet Ezekiel to the people of Israel about how God will punish people individually for their sins and reward people individually for righteousness. This is opposed to the current thought of the time that a Father’s sins would cause punishment to come upon his son; and a son’s sin would cause punishment to come upon the Father. God says, no, I will deal with each one individually.

And then there is this part, which was at the source of my conflict: (verses 31-32) “Cast away from you all transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live.”

And so you see what appears to be God having to do something he doesn’t desire to do. It seems that if God sovereignly caused it to happen, it doesn’t make sense that He would say it doesn’t bring Him pleasure.

I asked God to help me understand it. Do you ever do that with certain Scripture passages or ideas? I do. I hate apparent inconsistencies. They bother me. And since I know God is always consistent – I ask for help to reconcile things I don’t understand. I believe when we pray and ask God for wisdom in regards to His Word, He is faithful to help us; insomuch as our finite minds can be helped.

So I went to the computer to try to look up some commentary for this struggle. I felt like I was being led to specifically check John Piper’s resources. So I went to http://www.desiringgod.org, searched for Ezekiel 18; and of course, was taken to a sermon of his from 1987 on this very subject (and yes it had audio AND text; so I got to listen to it.) It dealt with this very issue.

And so, if you also would wonder how a God who is infinitely free, can never be backed into a corner, and does ALL things according to the pleasure of His will, could say that He does not take pleasure in the destruction of the wicked, then I invite you to see the same resource I have.

Before I give the link, let me also throw out there this verse which seems opposite, but as we find out is not. Deuteronomy 28:63, “And as the LORD took delight in doing you good, and multiplying you, so the LORD will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you.”

Here is the link, but let me give you a bit of advice before you check it out. The text of the sermon that is given is an abbreviated version edited for reading. The audio sermon is MUCH better, especially with the final explanation. So, what I would suggest is opening up the “listen” link (NOT THE EXCERPT, BUT THE REGULAR SERMON) and then skip the marker (there is no time marker) ahead to the final quarter of the sermon. Listen to the final 1/4 of the audio sermon. The whole sermon is good, but if you want to get right to the answer, check out the final 1/4 of it. The verbal answer is more elaborate and passionate than the written text answer on the page, although they are equally true.

Are you ok with having a God who can be backed into a corner and be dependent on men? If you are, then maybe Ezekiel 18 doesn’t bother you. If you know that is not the nature of God, and therefore it does bother you – you will enjoy this.

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[Originally written March 3, 2008.]

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Published in: on November 11, 2008 at 8:44 pm  Comments (2)  

Warnings Against the Adulteress

I just wanted to post about this briefly (at least my part will be brief). But I need to do it in two parts.

I – When I see a story like this one about the Governor of NY resigning because he was caught using prostitutes, I have to be careful not to think self-righteously. That is not to say I don’t judge. I am commanded to by Scripture. But with humility I know “There but for the grace of God go I.”  And what he was caught doing outwardly, I and all men have been guilty of in the heart, according to Jesus in Matthew 5.

II – But I wanted to post this scripture that so perfectly reflects this circumstance.  It is the visual that usually comes to my mind when I think of the adultress.  It is from Proverbs, chapter 7.  When you read it, and get to the consequences towards the end – I feel bad, knowing that this is what has befallen the Governor of NY.  The Scriptures are so true, and accurate to describe this as it is.  And it is another reminder that there is “nothing new under the sun.”  All sin is just the same sin recycled through the lives of mankind.

6 At the window of my house
I looked out through the lattice.

7 I saw among the simple,
I noticed among the young men,
a youth who lacked judgment.

8 He was going down the street near her corner,
walking along in the direction of her house

9 at twilight, as the day was fading,
as the dark of night set in.

10 Then out came a woman to meet him,
dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent.

11 (She is loud and defiant,
her feet never stay at home;

12 now in the street, now in the squares,
at every corner she lurks.)

13 She took hold of him and kissed him
and with a brazen face she said:

14 “I have fellowship offerings [a] at home;
today I fulfilled my vows.

15 So I came out to meet you;
I looked for you and have found you!

16 I have covered my bed
with colored linens from Egypt.

17 I have perfumed my bed
with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon.

18 Come, let’s drink deep of love till morning;
let’s enjoy ourselves with love!

19 My husband is not at home;
he has gone on a long journey.

20 He took his purse filled with money
and will not be home till full moon.”

21 With persuasive words she led him astray;
she seduced him with her smooth talk.

22 All at once he followed her
like an ox going to the slaughter,
like a deer [b] stepping into a noose [c]

23 till an arrow pierces his liver,
like a bird darting into a snare,
little knowing it will cost him his life.

24 Now then, my sons, listen to me;
pay attention to what I say.

25 Do not let your heart turn to her ways
or stray into her paths.

26 Many are the victims she has brought down;
her slain are a mighty throng.

27 Her house is a highway to the grave, [d]
leading down to the chambers of death.

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[Originally written on March 13, 2008.]

Published in: on November 11, 2008 at 8:39 pm  Comments (1)