No Pleasure in Sinner’s Death
aymon de albatrus
“Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? said the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?” (Eze 18:23)
“For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies, said the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live.” (Eze 18:32)
“Say to them, As I live, said the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn you, turn you from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?” (Eze 33:11)
As sinners, when someone wrong us we get pleasure out of seeing them punished for it. But true love within ourselves would mean that we would NOT get pleasure out of seeing them hurt, but in seeing them repent. God, who is perfect in love, finds no pleasure in seeing the wicked punished, but rather in the wicked repenting. This is the mind of God: "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..."
God hates sin and those who are doing it, because He is absolutely holy. Sin is transgression of His Laws and He abhors rebellion (1Jo 3:4). But God is also pure love, and thus gets no pleasure out of seeing people die in their sin. His attribute of love gets pleasure out of seeing man repent of sin and respond to His generous and free offer of salvation. If that seems contradictory, it is only because we are neither truly holy, nor truly loving. If we were perfectly holy, and perfectly loving, we would see that this makes perfect sense.
Moreover, God is purely and perfectly benevolent and thus it is contrary to His character that He should find pleasure in the misery of His creatures. He is not like man that when he sees his enemy in trouble rubs his hands together exulting and saying with glee in his eyes: “ah ha! I got you now!”. NO! Our marvellous God is far above that.
Of course this does not mean that because God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked He will not punish sin. That slogan “God hates the sin and loves the sinner” is not true for it makes no logical sense. If God loves the sinner while he is alive, it is strange that God sends him to hell as soon as he dies. God loves the sinner to death? Loves him to everlasting torment? God is thrice Holy God (Isa 6:3) and must maintain His Holiness which requires that He should punish sin to the utmost, but He gets no pleasure in punishing sinners. Beside God has a perfect hatred for sin and unrepented sinners: “I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them my enemies.” (Psa 139:22) and these are continually under His wrath: “He that believes on the Son has everlasting life: and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God stays on him.” (Joh 3:36). But God has no pleasure in punishing them, just like a father that has no pleasure to chastise his wayward son; however he has to do it for the sake of good morals and justice.
Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? said the Lord GOD Perish by sword, famine, or pestilence, or go into captivity or a thousand other deaths, though this be the Lord’s will and work for His Sovereign plan, mercy is His delight. To be clear the Lord does take “pleasure” in these things as they fulfil His decrees, they secure the honour of His truth and holiness, and glorify His justice, and especially when they are the means of reclaiming men from the evil of their ways. But He does not take pleasure in the sufferings of sinners, even though this be their just deserve.
and not that he should return from his ways, and live? It is more pleasing to God that a man should repent of his sins and forsakes his vicious course of life and enjoys good things, than to go on in his sins and bring ruin on himself, both here on the earth and in the life hereafter.
For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies, said the Lord GOD Not to be interpreted simply and absolutely and with respect to all persons afflicted and punished by Him; for He does take delight in the exercise of "judgment" and "righteousness," and "laughs" at the "calamity" of wicked men: “But let him that glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD which exercise loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, said the LORD.” (Jer 9:24; Pro 1:26). The sense is, that He takes no pleasure in the afflictions, calamities, and captivity of men, which are meant by death here; but rather that they would repent and reform, and live in their own land, and enjoy the good things of it; which shows the mercy and compassion of God to sinners
wherefore turn yourselves, and live. Here God renew His exhortation that He takes no delight in their present deaths, their captivity for it would be more agreeable to Him if they would turn from their evil ways to the Lord their God. He exhorts them to behave according to the laws He has given them, to walk by and so live in their own land (Israel), in peace in the quiet possession of their goods and wealth.
As I live, said the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked The following is the answer returned to the people from the Lord by the prophet Ezekiel to their complaint and reasoning, which is premised by an oath of God. To meet the Jews’ cry of despair in Eze 33:10, Ezekiel here cheers them by the assurance that God has no pleasure in their death, but that they should repent and live (2Pe 3:9). God here manifests a warm benevolence towards them, notwithstanding all their past sins; yet His holiness diminishes nothing of its demands from the honour of God’s authority. God’s righteousness is vindicated for as in Eze 3:18-21. He appoints heralds to proclaim the Good News and that people should repent of their evil ways and to accept the free salvation in Christ and that these witnesses be true to His Word.
This charge is valid also for us for God takes no joy in having to condemn people but He must do that to safeguard His attributes of Justice and Holiness.
God is not like man that rejoices when his enemies are punished, His ways and thoughts are far above ours (Isa 55:9). He is almost reluctant when He punishes the wicked but be not fooled for He will execute judgment for the sake of His Holy Justice.
Because He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked does not mean that He is a weak God, for Scripture says that it is a terrible thing to fall in His hands: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Heb 10:31) We see also how His presence is frightening to the wicked preferring death by being crushed rather than witnessing His face: “And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every slave, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:” (Rev 6:15-16)
Indeed God has no pleasure in destroying the wicked but will do it and it is an awful thing for those who have rejected the free offer of salvation in Christ. This knowledge ought to make us more zealous to witness the Lord far and wide for the time is short and the great terrible Judgment near.
But praise God in the highest, for us, His redeemed, desire with much desire to be in that day when we shall see Him face to face in His full effulgence and bask in His perfect love. AMEN