Personal Responsibility

KEY VERSE: “I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the LORD God; wherefore turn yourselves and live ye.” —Ezekiel 18:32

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Ezekiel 18:1-13, 25, 30

THIS part of Ezekiel’s prophecy gives several detailed examples of how God’s law of life will operate in the kingdom to come. Indicating that mankind will no longer be living under the Adamic sentence of death, he writes: “What mean ye that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge? As I live saith the Lord God, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel.”—vss. 2,3

Then he shows, during that time, life and death will be a matter between each individual and God. “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine; the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (vs. 4) This tells us that the prospect of everlasting life for each person is in the hands of the Creator, and that an unfeigned love for righteousness will be the deciding test.

The examples which follow show how this test will be applied, and indicate that it will be a matter of living obediently to God’s law, a law expressed similarly to that which Israel lived under. A person will be required to do that which is “lawful and right” (vs. 5), not idolatrous or immoral (vs. 6), does not oppress any, or spoil by violence, but is generous, giving his bread to the hungry and his garment to cover the naked. (vs. 7) Jesus used these same expressions in commendation of those who proved worthy of life in the parable of the sheep and the goats. In conclusion, this kingdom portrait is characterized in verses eight and nine thus: “He that hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true judgment between man and man, hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord God.”—vss. 8,9

The thousand-year kingdom of Christ is not primarily designed for the judgment and death of sinners, but rather for their reformation, to receive life. The prophecy states God’s purpose in these words: “If the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed they shall not be mentioned unto him, in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die, saith the Lord God, and not that he should return from his ways, and live?”—vss. 21-23

What a wonderful Heavenly Father the world has, who in longsuffering is not willing that any should perish.—II Pet. 3:9

God’s patient love for his people of earth, and his provisions for them, can be seen in a more wonderful light when we take into consideration the exercise of his foreknowledge. In Psalm 139:16 we read, “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” The great Creator is sympathetic to human needs, and will, through his unlimited agencies, care for them. The psalmist inquires, “He that planteth the ear, shall he not hear? He that formed the eye, shall he not see?”—Ps. 94:9

Our loving Heavenly Father watches over mankind’s every interest, and makes all the necessary provisions to ultimately deliver them from the death from which there will be no awakening. He provides just such experiences now as will best serve to accomplish his divine purpose. He will turn present, unfavorable circumstances into assets as mankind learns to appreciate the principles of righteousness which lead to life.

During the time of the permission of evil it has been amply demonstrated that sin brings no real pleasure in life, and ends in death. While our wise God has seen a necessity in allowing this as a learning experience, the death of his children has brought him no pleasure.

God’s feelings for mankind are often expressed through his holy angels. Jesus ended one of his parables with these words, “I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth!”—Luke 15:10

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