Turn! O Turn! Why Will You Die
TURN! O TURN! WHY WILL YOU DIE
he had no pleasure in the death of the wicked but that the wicked turned from their evil ways and lived, for why should the wicked die?
by Achille Blaize
[Achille Blaize is the pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Gurney Road, London E15 1SL (www.gbcsl.org). He preached at the Aberystwyth Conference of the Evangelical Movement of Wales on the Thursday night to a packed Great Hall of the University. There were almost 1400 people who heard the following message.]
Passing the buck and shifting responsibility are traits that everyone has inherited from Adam and Eve. In their Babylonian exile God sent Ezekiel to preach to the people of God. To live or to die? What could they do? They blamed God for their slavery and God sends his prophet to answer their accusation. How did they blame God? In verse 10 God addresses Israel who were saying, ‘If our transgressions lie upon us, and we fall away under them how then can we live? If what God says is true and the heavinesses of our sins are upon us – all by a judicial act of God – how can you, Ezekiel, say that we shall live?" God answered them in Ezekiel 33:11 to say that he had no pleasure in the death of the wicked but that the wicked turned from their evil ways and lived, for why should the wicked die?
In God’s answer there are three things:
1. IN WHAT GOD DOESN’T TAKE PLEASURE
God wants the people to understand clearly that he does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked. He registers his denial when he hears that the people were saying judgment and death was all his fault. He emphasises the fact that he does NOT take pleasure in their death; publicly and emphatically he takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. When God expresses this truth so clearly we must take note of the following. Every man and woman outside of Christ is defined as ‘wicked.’ God excludes none at all. Yet there is not one wicked man or woman in whose death God takes pleasure. To die in your sin and to perish is a horrible thing, and it gives God no pleasure. Rather it grieves him to see you continue in your sin. If you believe in Almighty God, and repudiate your sin and trust in Jesus Christ, God absolutely guarantees your deliverance from sin. So Ezekiel is told by God to show the people this truth. All who heard the prophet must come to a knowledge of it.
But God registers his delight in another way. He takes an oath for people to understand what he means: "As I live, says the Lord." Why is he swearing by himself? In a court we swear on the Bible. God takes an oath by himself because there is no one greater. As I live, says the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked. This is eternally true and I solemnly swear that I take no pleasure in anyone who perishes in their sin. So why should we not turn right around and trust in Christ? "Make sure the people believe this,’ says God to the prophet.
2. WHAT GOD DOES TAKE PLEASURE IN.
There is something in which God does take pleasure, that the wicked turn from his way and live. Instead of taking pleasure in their death let me tell you all that the thing that gives me, Almighty God, the greatest pleasure is that each one turns from his or her sins. The Lord Jesus revealed the mind of God and he tells us that there is joy in heaven over a sinner that repents.
So this teaches us God’s immense tenderness and compassion. We love our sin, and yet God is so full of compassion that instead of leaving us in our sin he has sent a Saviour to deliverer. Also God is uncompromising in what he says. He has no hang-ups in bringing a free gospel of grace to all men saying he has no pleasure in the judgment that comes upon sinners. His desire and delight is to see men and women turn from sin and live. To die in your sin is an eternal disaster. For you to continue as you are and think that because of your background you have earned your way to heaven – No! God says. Christ is the way and truth and life and is the only way to the Father. We have a confusion today in religion, but Christ is saying that there is no other route to God by Christ alone. Every other way leads to destruction. "Tell them, Ezekiel, that it gives me pleasure when they turn from their sin and live."
3. HOW GOD DISPLAYS HIS PLEASURE.
He is not an aloof God and here he expresses his pleasure in a way that surprises us all. He says, "Turn, turn from your evil ways for why should you die?" God unashamedly repeated his passion. Turn! In other words, Repent! And he repeats his sacred self in compassion and in passion for your salvation. He wants you to turn, and turn to live. The prophet had to use all the energy God could give him for the people to understand.
When it comes to the salvation of men and women God issues a universal invitation. It is a regal invitation from the throne of God. He is pleading with us. Here is a universal offer of mercy. It is also indiscriminate, however young or old you may be. Wherever you are or to whomsoever you belong, God says, Why will you die? Turn, and turn! He cries. He could have plunged us all into oblivion but he pleads with us to turn and live. There is no hesitation on his part. Don’t hesitate tonight. Now is the day of salvation. Do not harden your heart. Call upon him while he is near. He will abundantly pardon. God does not hesitate. But there is more.
There is a protestation. People protest with banners and chants. God protests very seriously and yet this melts a heart of stone. He humbles himself to ask us one very simple question. In verse 11 he asks, "for why should you die?" You are in a disaster zone, but God was pleased to bruise his Son from love. Why, why, why will you die? says God. Is there one good reason for you to go to hell? I know all about hell. I created it. Is that where you want to go? One good reason for that decision, please, can you give it? I am appealing to you, says God, why will you die when I offer you salvation in Jesus Christ. Do you love the devil more than God? Why?
I am pleading with you personally, and ask you why will you die? "Religion was rammed down my throat." But why will you die? "I live a better life than those who go to church," yes, but why are you going to die? An unconverted person is like some people who have migraine. Their heads give them great pain but they cannot live without them. You are on the border of eternity. Why do you want to commit suicide spiritually when I offer you mercy and kindness. Why? Why? Why? Sin is sweet, yes but temporary. It does not last. I am moved over you, says God. I ask you one simple question so very basically – why will you die in your sin? Why be separate from God and Christ and good men who love God for ever and ever? Why? It does not make sense. Why will you die when I graciously offer you escape and life through my Son Jesus Christ. He forgives sin and he is a friend of sinners. So much mercy, kindness and goodness is offered to you so plentifully and there is this vast mercy. God says here is my protest. You are disobeying my will and I protest with all my power. Is there one solid reason why you want to die separated from me. Why? What folly! If the firemen were pleading with you in a burning building to come out, and you were dancing in the flames the firemen would think you were the most foolish person they had ever seen. All kinds of blasphemy can be forgiven. Come now and let us reason together, says the Lord. The blood Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin.
Jesus looking back on his labours in Capernaum and Bethsaida where many of his mighty works were done cries for God’s judgment to come upon those communities – "Woe to you!" Then, immediately, "Come to me . . ." This same God who does not change is pleading with us now not to give ourselves rest until we make our peace with God. Forgiveness is offered so freely to us now. Leave your sin and fly to Jesus Christ for salvation tonight! Hide in the Rock of Ages!
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