Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?
Ezekiel 18:23 (ESV)
God is love! And He shows His love in a number of different ways. Today we look at the way God demonstrates His love to sinners; to those who hate, despise and reject Him. It’s amazing how God displays His love in this context, even to those who will never believe.
Because God’s love is deep, He shows pity and real concern for sinners. We see this in the attitude of Jesus towards the wicked city of Jerusalem: And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes (Luke 19:41). Jesus was never too shy to point out the sins of this city, but he did it with tears of compassion!
Because God’s love is pure, He has no pleasure in the death of sinners. This is the emphasis in our verse from Ez. 18! It’s true. God will punish sinners. But “He is more pleased when his mercy is glorified in their salvation than when his justice is glorified in their condemnation.”1 Therefore, out of genuine love, God warns sinners of their fate and commands them to repent: For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live (Ezek. 18:32).
Because God’s love is wide, He invites all sinners without discrimination. The whole Bible shows that God yearns for sinners from every nation and all age groups to accept His invitation and to turn to Him for forgiveness. We read it in the OT: I said, “Here I am, here I am,” to a nation that was not called by my name. I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good (Isaiah 65:1-2). We see it in the ministry of Jesus: Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). The inviting tone continues even to the last chapter of the Bible: The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come (Rev 22:17).
We should reflect the inviting love of God in our genuine concern for the spiritual needs of children, in our prayers for them, in our teaching them and of course by inviting them to come to the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved from sin and hell. And we also should reflect the love of God in the way we deal with those who hate and reject us.
What an amazing God we have!
What else could we do other than worship, enjoy and glorify Him forever!
1 Matthew Henry in his comment on Ez 18:32