Say to them, As I live, said the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked…
Life and death are words pregnant with the highest meaning.
I. THE TERRIBLE EVENT. "The death of the wicked."
1. The wicked is that person, whatever he may be as regards externals, whose will is not in unison with the will of God.
2. The wicked, far down in the dark abyss of destruction, will ever remain conscious of his loss, his wretchedness, and the intolerable anger of an offended God. His death will be his loss of God's favour, and his own personal happiness.
3. Why is the wicked doomed to die?
(1) Because death is the inevitable tendency of the great principle that rules his soul. The wicked man is governed by selfishness — he is the slave and victim of sin. This principle is fatal to everything that is elevated, pure, and life-giving, in the spiritual world. It tends to destroy all peace of mind, to quench hope, to fetter the intellectual powers, to dissolve friendship, and to fit the soul for the gloomy regions of despair.
(2) Because death is the desert of sin.
(3) Because death is the effect of a Divine decree respecting disobedience.
II. THE CHEERING FACT. Can there be anything more consolatory to a sinner than this Divine affirmation? God takes no pleasure in the misery of His creatures.
1. It is contrary to His benevolent nature to do so. Nature, conscience, and scripture, testify that His delight is in making all beings happy.
2. The ruin of a soul gives no satisfaction to the Divine justice.
3. The design of God in all His dealings with sinners is to save them. All the powers of His infinite love, all the pathos of His infinite compassion, all the influences of His infinite Spirit, are employed to turn the wicked from his evil way, and to save his soul. It is not God's pleasure, brother, that you should die. Your destruction must be your own act. There may be written over the portals of hell, in large letters of fire, the inscription — SELF-DESTROYED.
III. THE STIRRING APPEAL.
1. It is an appeal addressed to man's higher nature. Think — give a reason for such mad conduct. This is God's method of dealing with men's souls: He appeals to their reason. He wants to know the cause of our determination to reject the offers of redeeming love. "Why will ye die?" There is nothing in the Divine purposes, nothing in the sacrifice of God's beloved Son, nothing in the agency of the Holy Spirit, yea, there is nothing in God's remedy for diseased souls, why any sinner should die.
2. It is an appeal which implies the necessity of immediate personal attention.
(1) The duty is important: God is most urgent in His appeal. It is a matter of life or death to the soul.
(2) The duty is personal — "O house of Israel, why will ye die?" The appeals of the Gospel are pointed, they aim at the heart, they are applied to the individual conscience.
(3) The duty requires immediate attention. We have no time to procrastinate.
3. It is an appeal which conveys the strongest motive for obedience. Have you any doubt about the reception of a penitent sinner? Think of the oath of God. Remember the encouraging words of Jesus, "He that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out."
(J. H. Hughes.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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?
WEB: Tell them, As I live, says the Lord Yahweh, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn, turn from your evil ways; for why will you die, house of Israel?