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Live Not Die

Live Not Die

02 September 2011

Reading: Ezekiel 17-19; Revelation 7

Scripture:

“Do you think,” asks the Sovereign Lord, “that I like to see wicked people die? Of course not! I only want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.” (Ezekiel 18:23 NLT)

Ezekiel and Jeremiah were prophesying to Judah, and to the Jews already exiled to Babylon, at the very end of the warning period, when it was too late to turn the tide and the time had finally come for judgment to fall. Their messages from God were often hard and harsh and it must have been difficult for them to remember that God is merciful.

The messages God gave to Ezekiel were often so full of the detail of the sin and wickedness of the people—both those still in Jerusalem and Judah and those in exile in Babylon—that it just sounds as if God hates them, is fed up with them, and will be glad to see them die. But that’s not the case at all!

I must be careful when someone wrongs or offends me that I don’t expect God to stop loving them and feel toward them the way I do in my anger and my hurt. When I see evil or injustice here in the USA or in other parts of the world, I must not expect God to hate those who are taking advantage of others or persecuting them. God loves the just and the unjust alike. God loves me and God loves the person who hurts me.

God doesn’t want to punish the wicked. He takes no delight in executing judgment. God only wants wrongdoers to repent – to turn from wrong to right, to turn from sin to salvation. God himself suffered the judgment and punishment for the sins of all the wrongdoers and “hurters of others” in the person of his Son Jesus Christ. Then he forgave.

When my heart has become like God’s heart, I will be more a forgiver and less a judge.

Prayer:

Father, Please help me to remember that you love the sinner and the saint, the wrongdoer and the one who has been wronged. Help me not to get caught up in the judgment game. I must remember that you never do a “sting operation,” that there is no divine “Gotcha!” May my heart become like your heart, a heart that only wants to see people turn from wickedness, to live and not die. Amen.

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