Thursday, November 16, 2006


Today's Old Testament reading, from the book of Ezekiel, includes something I quoted about a week ago, but with something added:
“Son of man, say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what you are saying: Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?

“Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’”
Ezekiel 33:10-11
As in the previous passage, we see that the Lord takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but this time he says explicitly that he'd rather they “turn from their ways and live.”

What generosity! What mercy! Does this mean that if Hitler or Stalin had turned from his ways at the end, the Lord would have forgiven him? I think yes. Which is truly awesome in my view.

Here's something else: In the Old Testament, this line of thought appears only twice, and only in the book of Ezekiel: "I take no pleasure in the death of <someone>" and "Why will you die?" (not necessarily in that order). What strikes me is that in Ezekiel's day, there was apparently a common belief that God did enjoy the death of some.

How about in our day? What wrong ideas do we have about God? Do we underestimate his mercy toward others? Do we forget that he knows our thoughts and intentions, or that he declares the end from the beginning? I know that I sometimes do.

The last thing I want to say about this passage is: Look at what comes just before the message to the people. They say they're wasting away because of their sins. So God's message (to turn from evil) is sent to people who already feel weighed down by their own sin. In other words, he says, "You don't have to keep sinning and die; you can turn and live!"

And that offer stands today, too, so I don't really have to continue in my secret thoughts (no, I'm not going to tell you...), my bad habits, my guilty pleasures etc.; I can turn away from them, and pursue the path of life. Good news.

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