"As surely as I live," says the Sovereign Lord, "I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people. I only want them to turn from their wicked ways so they can live. Turn! Turn from your wickedness, O people of Israel! Why should you die?"
- Ezekiel 33:11
When the topic of God's judgment comes up, some people would say, "It's about time!" They have no problem whatsoever with seeing God's wrath fall upon a world that has rejected Him and His Word.
But as believers, this is not an attitude we should have. In fact, it is why God rebuked Jonah. The Lord told him to go and preach to the Ninevites, who were renowned for their wickedness and cruelty. Jonah didn't want to go for two reasons: First, he was a patriotic Jew, and the Ninevites were enemies of Israel. Second, he feared that because God was so gracious and loving, He would pardon Nineveh. And Jonah preferred that Nineveh be destroyed.
So Jonah went in the opposite direction. But after some powerful persuasion, he eventually went and preached to the people of Nineveh, hoping that no one would listen. Then Jonah pulled up a ringside seat outside Nineveh, holding out hope that God's judgment would come.
Meanwhile, God caused a large plant to grow up that gave Jonah shade. But when a worm came along and ate the plant, Jonah got upset. Here is what God told him: "You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn't I feel sorry for such a great city?" (Jonah 4:10–11).
This reminds us that God takes no delight in the death of the wicked (see Ezekiel 33:11). Nor should we. We should not rejoice that people are going to be judged because, frankly, we all deserve to be judged. But God loves us. He wants us to know Him. And it is His nature to love and to forgive.
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