Ezekiel 18:23 and 33:11 “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked.”
Ezekiel 18:23 - “HAVE I ANY PLEASURE AT ALL THAT THE WICKED SHOULD DIE? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?”
Ezekiel 33:11-12 - “ 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?
12 Therefore, thou son of man, say unto the children of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth.”
Those who promote the theology of “I chose of my own free will to believe the gospel” and oppose the doctrines of God’s sovereign grace to redeem His elect whom He chose in Christ before the foundation of the world will latch onto anything they think will prop up their “free will” fantasy.
Even though there are numerous verses of Scripture that clearly teach that God Himself is the one who gives both repentance and faith to His elect people - “the vessels of mercy which He afore prepared unto glory” Romans 9:23 - and that He also hardens the hearts and blinds the eyes of others - “the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction” Romans 9:22 - yet they insist that God does not have any pleasure or want the death of the wicked. They tell us that we who believe in the doctrines of sovereign, electing grace simply do not understand the Bible rightly.
See the article “Why do some believe the gospel and others do not?”, which lists numerous Scriptures proving that God gives both faith and repentance to His elect and hardens, blinds and appoints others to unbelief -
The free will position ALWAYS ends up creating numerous contradictions as they pit one Scripture against another, and try to make us think a few (misunderstood) verses completely reverse, nullify and deny the clear meaning of others.
Such is the case with Ezekiel 18:23 and 33:11. Here are some reasons why their “I chose of my own free will to believe the gospel and accept Jesus into my heart” philosophy and application are in error.
#1. The passages are addressed to the nation of Israel, not to the unbelieving world.
#2. What is at stake is PHYSICAL LIFE not EVERLASTING LIFE.
#3. The righteousness spoken of throughout these chapters in Ezekiel is that of law keeping and not the imputed righteousness of Christ our Saviour.
First of all, it is vitally important that we understand the CONTEXT of these verses and to whom they are addressed. God is clearly speaking to the house of Israel; those whom He chose to be a special people unto Himself above all the people on the face of the earth. (Deuteronomy 7:6)
Ezekiel 33:2 - “Son of man, speak to THE CHILDREN OF THY PEOPLE, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman.”
Ezekiel 33:7 - “So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman UNTO THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.”
Ezekiel 33:10-12 - “Therefore, O thou son of man, SPEAK UNTO THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live?
11 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?
12 Therefore, thou son of man, say unto THE CHILDREN OF THY PEOPLE, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth.”
#2. and #3. - The righteousness spoken of here is NOT the imputed righteousness of Christ, but is the legal righteousness of obeying the law of Moses.
If the “free willers” want to use these passages to deny the election of God and the hardening of others, then they must be honest and consistent in their application of these verses. They would also have to believe that a once redeemed and washed in the blood of the Lamb child of God can later lose his salvation and no longer be “righteous” but condemned as a wicked person and die in his sins. Are most of them willing to take this view?
Notice what the next verses tell us in Ezekiel 33:13-16 -
“13 When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.
14 Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right;
15 If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die.
16 None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live.”
It should be abundantly clear that God is here speaking to His people of Israel. He is about to bring judgment upon their land because of their sins of idolatry and the righteousness spoken of here is a legal righteousness under the law of Moses and not the imputed righteousness of Christ.
The death spoken of in these passages is PHYSICAL death, NOT spiritual death.
As for God not taking pleasure in the death of the wicked (Remember, He is speaking about the wicked among His people of Israel who were not walking in the legal righteousness of the law of Moses), it is of great interest to see what God says about His people when He finally DOES judge them for their collective sins as a nation.
In Deuteronomy 28:63 we read: “And it shall come to pass, that AS THE LORD REJOICED OVER YOU to do you good, and to multiply you; SO THE LORD WILL REJOICE OVER YOU TO DESTROY YOU, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it.”
Proverbs 16:4 - “ The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.”
Psalms 2:1-5 - “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying,
3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
4 HE THAT SITTETH IN THE HEAVENS SHALL LAUGH: the Lord shall have them in derision.
5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and VEX THEM IN HIS SORE DISPLEASURE.”
Psalms 37:12-13 - “The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth.
13 THE LORD SHALL LAUGH AT HIM: for he seeth that his day is coming.”
Proverbs 1:25-26 - “But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:
26 I ALSO WILL LAUGH AT YOUR CALAMITY; I WILL MOCK WHEN YOUR FEAR COMETH.”
I believe that much of the present day professing church is guilty of the same sins as Israel of old. “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Romans 3:18
“THOU THOUGHTEST THAT I WAS ALTOGETHER SUCH AN ONE AS THYSELF: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes. Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver. Whosoever offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.” Psalm 50:21-23
“For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, THAT THE PURPOSE OF GOD ACCORDING TO ELECTION MIGHT STAND, not of works, but of Him that calleth...So then IT IS NOT OF HIM THAT WILLETH, nor of him that runneth, BUT OF GOD that sheweth mercy.” Romans 9:11 and 16.
”Salvation is of the LORD.” Jonah 2:9
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