“And you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, Thus have you said: ‘Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we rot away because of them. How then can we live?’ Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?
“And you, son of man, say to your people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him when he transgresses, and as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall by it when he turns from his wickedness, and the righteous shall not be able to live by his righteousness when he sins. Though I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, yet if he trusts in his righteousness and does injustice, none of his righteous deeds shall be remembered, but in his injustice that he has done he shall die. Again, though I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ yet if he turns from his sin and does what is just and right, if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has taken by robbery, and walks in the statutes of life, not doing injustice, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the sins that he has committed shall be remembered against him. He has done what is just and right; he shall surely live.” Ezekiel 33:10-16 ESV
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God. John 3:16-21 ESV
Jody Baxter lived with his mother and father in the backwoods of Florida, where they struggled to make a living as farmers and hunters. Jody wanted a pet very much, and he convinced his parents to let him bring home an orphaned fawn and keep it as a pet. The young deer, named Flag, grew up, and he eventually became a problem to the family. Flag was eating up all the corn they had planted that they were depending on for food for the winter. Jody had to make a terrible choice and shoot his pet to death so that his family would survive. He didn’t want to kill the deer he loved so much, and he was very sad and upset that it had to be done.
God feels the same sadness when he has to bring judgment on wicked people. He told Ezekiel that he took no pleasure in the death of the wicked, and that his great desire was that the wicked turn away from evil and turn to the Lord for a new life. God said these words to reassure people who felt that their sins were so terrible that they could never be forgiven. He also warned good people not to trust in the good things they did to stay in God’s favor. If they turned away from God’s ways and did things that were unkind and unjust, their good deeds wouldn’t do them any good. The Lord was saying that he is always ready and waiting for people to turn to him for forgiveness, and also that it is important to keep on walking in his ways.
We know that God loves us and everyone in the world very much, and that he doesn’t want anyone to fall under his judgment for sin. He sent Jesus, his only Son, into the world to pay for our sins at the cross, and anyone who believes in Jesus has life forever with God. We can always turn to God for forgiveness and for new life, and because of Jesus we know that our Heavenly Father will never turn us away. He sends us his Holy Spirit to bring us back to him every day, for forgiveness and to keep us walking in his ways, now and always.
Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive us all our sins and keep us walking with you every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Rawlings, Marjorie Kinnan The Yearling New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1938.