"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?" Ezekiel 33:11
I imagine when the Titanic was sinking there was somebody who turned to the captain and said, "I told you there were icebergs. I told you what would happen if you went 'full speed ahead.'"
When Custer was surrounded at the Little Big Horn, I think it quite likely one of his men shouted over the gunfire: "I told you there were a lot of Indians, didn't I? I told you what would happen if you kept yelling 'Charge!'"
When the Japanese began their bombing runs at Pearl Harbor, there had to be someone saying, "I knew we should have been more careful. Didn't I tell you what would happen if we ignored all those blips on the radar screen?"
Those examples and many others from our own experience say we humans are a pretty predictable lot.
Most of us get some serious satisfaction in coming up to someone and reminding them we were right and they were wrong. We want them to see that we had assessed the situation correctly, while their judgment had been incorrect. It's our way of saying, "Because you didn't listen to me, you're getting the punishment you deserve."
It should be noted that saying, "You're getting the punishment you deserve" is not a quality God shares with us.
Most certainly, there are times when the Lord is forced to say those words. The Old Testament records many times when the Lord warned His people about this sin or that transgression, and they ignored Him. It usually doesn't take too long before a punishment was forthcoming and the people, with repentant hearts, remembered, "God told us this would happen."
That being said, Scripture is pretty clear. On Judgment Day God isn't going to be smiling or feeling good when a bunch of unsaved sinners are sent to hell. He isn't going to smirk and say, "I told you what would happen if you broke My Commandments and wouldn't be brought to My Son for forgiveness. I told you that if you wanted to live your life without Me, you were making a decision to spend eternity in a place where that wish would be granted."
The truth is God wants to see every one of us be brought to faith so that the doors of heaven might be opened and everyone would be brought into an eternity of unending peace, joy and happiness. So God wouldn't have to punish us, He sent His Son into the world. Jesus Christ was born so that all who believe on Him would not perish but, instead, be given eternal life.
So we might be saved, Jesus lived His entire life surrounded by -- but untouched by -- sin. So God might give all of us the opportunity to be rescued and redeemed, Jesus was denied justice and condemned to a cross. So that everyone, including you and I, might be given incontrovertible evidence that our Heavenly Father wants us in heaven and not hell, the Savior rose from the dead.
And although the Lord will be sending unbelievers to hell on Judgment Day, there is little doubt He would rather hear Jesus say, "Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matthew 25:34).
THE PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, I am most grateful You get no pleasure in the death of the wicked. I rejoice that You have provided salvation in the Person Jesus, my Savior. In His Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries