Our Just and Merciful God

April 3, 2007 § Leave a comment

Ezekiel 18:22-13, 22 None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live. 23 Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord God, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live?

In Ezekiel chapter eighteen the people of Israel were accusing God of injustice.(Ezekiel 18:1-2) They were claiming their innocence of guilt and the injustice of God for punishing them for sins they did not commit. God rebukes them through the prophet, and declares the standard by which He judges men and the grounds of his mercy.

To summarize the chapter, God teaches Israel that each man stands alone before his law, that if he has keep the law and done righteously he will surely live and not die, but if he has transgressed the law and done wickedly he will suffer the penalty of the law and surely die.(Ezekiel 18:3-18 )

In verse 19, the people were complaining that even though they were innocent God was judging them for their father’s sins and was not accepting their repentance and righteousness. God rebukes them and declares that if they have indeed obeyed then they will surely live, and thus exposes their falsehood. He shows them clearly that his justice and mercy are both grounded in his good intentions toward his people.

I believe that we can infer from verses 22-23 that God gives his law to his people from his good intention that they reflect his holiness by the keeping of that law. The giving of this law is not out of pleasure for enacting the penalty, but rather out of his intention that his people reflect his holiness. The apostle Paul, in Romans 7:10, makes this statement:

10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.

Paul teaches us that the law was intended to bring life, but because of our sin it brought death. If the giving of the law to God’s people was intended to be for their good, i.e. so that they would by keeping the law reflect God’s holiness and goodness, then certainly God would provide mercy to the wicked man that repents of his wickedness and turns to God. If the giving of the law was intended to bring life, then certainly the death of the wicked can bring no pleasure to God. A God who intends the well being of his creatures by giving his law would certainly grant mercy to those who repent of their transgressions and desire to live. So we can see that both justice and mercy are grounded in God’s good pleasure and kind intention towards his creatures.

Blessings in Christ,

Terry W. West

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