The Pleasure of God

“Every thing which Jehovah was pleased to do, He did, in the heavens and in the earth, and in the seas and all deep places” (Psalm 135:6).

The tenacious adherents of pseudo-sovereignty posit a supposed “tension” (i.e., contradiction) between Psalm 135:6 and this portion of Ezekiel 18 (bold underlined emphasis mine):

“But the wicked, if he will turn from all his sins which he has done, and keep all My statutes, and do justice and righteousness, living he shall live; he shall not die. All his transgressions that he has done, they shall not be recalled to him in his righteousness which he has done; he shall live. Delighting, do I delight in the death of the wicked? declares the Lord Jehovah. Is it not that he should turn from his ways and live? But when the righteous turns from his righteousness and does injustice, according to all the abominations that the wicked do, he does, shall he live? All his righteousness that he has done shall not be remembered in his treason that he has betrayed, and in his sin that he has sinned, in them he shall die. Yet you say, The way of the Lord is not fair. Hear now, O house of Israel. Is My way not fair? Are your ways not unfair? When a righteous one turns from his righteousness and does injustice and dies in them, he shall die for his injustice which he has done. And when the wicked turns from his wickedness that he has done and does justice and righteousness, he shall keep his soul alive. Because he sees and turns from all his transgressions that he has done, living he shall live; he shall not die. But the house of Israel says, The way of the Lord is not fair. Are My ways not fair, O house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are not fair? I will judge you, each man by his ways, O house of Israel, declares the Lord Jehovah. Turn and be made to turn from all your transgressions, and iniquity shall not be a stumbling-block to you. Cast away all your transgressions from you by which you have transgressed in them, and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit; for why will you die, O house of Israel? For I do not have delight in the death of him who dies, declares the Lord Jehovah. So turn and live” (Ezekiel 18:21-32).

God does NOT have delight in fruit unto death.

“For when you were slaves of sin, you were free as to righteousness. Therefore what fruit did you have then in the things over which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death” (Romans 6:20-21).

“For when we were in the flesh, the passions of sin were working in our members through the Law for the bearing of fruit unto death” (Romans 7:5).

God DOES have delight in fruit unto God.

“So that, my brothers, you also were made dead to the Law through the body of Christ, for you to become Another’s, to the One raised from the dead, so that we may bear fruit to God” (Romans 7:4).

Ezekiel 18:21-32 juxtaposes turning and living with rebelling and dying.

“Delighting, do I delight in the death of the wicked? declares the Lord Jehovah. Is it not that he should turn from his ways and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23)

The “death of him who dies” is inseparably connected with this dying one’s impenitence. God does not delight in the death of him who dies because God does not delight in those wages that bring that death about. Implicit in Ezekiel 18:23’s “do I delight in the death of the wicked?” and “Is it not that he should turn from his ways and live?” is the sinful rebellion to which the wicked’s death is attached. God does not delight in the death of the wicked because God does not delight in the wicked’s refusal to turn and live. God says He does “not have delight in the death of him who dies” (Ezekiel 18:32). THEREFORE “turn and live” (Ezekiel 18:32).

In one sense God does NOT delight in rotten and rebellious fruit and the end thereof (which is death). This is why He says “turn and live.” But in another sense, He certainly DOES delight in the death of him who dies since He takes pleasure in destroying those who rebel against Him.

“And it shall be, as Jehovah rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you, so Jehovah shall rejoice over you to destroy you, and to lay you waste. And you shall be plucked from the land you are going to possess” (Deuteronomy 28:63).

“Because I called, and you refused; I stretch out a hand, and none inclines, but you have ignored all my counsel, and you did not desire my warning. I also will laugh in your calamity, I will mock when your dread comes” (Proverbs 1:24-26).

In one sense God does not delight in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18), and in another sense He does (Psalm 135:6–11 and Deuteronomy 28:63). Also consider how God was pleased with the death of His Son in one sense (e.g., “But Jehovah pleased to crush Him” (Isaiah 53:10), while displeased in another sense (e.g., “the Author of Life you killed” (Acts 3:15). The senses here are decree and precept. Another example is Pharaoh. God was displeased with Pharaoh’s stubborn refusal to let His people go (precept). And God was pleased to actively harden Pharaoh so that he could not let His people go (decree).

To conclude this post. Marc D. Carpenter made these insightful and relevant comments on 7/24/09:

There must be a distinction made between the pleasure that God always has at His decretive will being accomplished and the displeasure He has that does not have to do with His decretive will.

For example, is God displeased with sin? Of course He is. Yet He has decreed sin, and so He is pleased with it in terms of His decretive will being accomplished.

Look at the following passages regarding God’s pleasure that use the same Hebrew word as in Ezekiel:

Psalm 147:10-11 He takes no delight in the strength of the horse, nor any pleasure in the legs of a man. Jehovah takes pleasure in those who fear Him, those who hope in His mercy.

Isaiah 1:11 What good to Me are your many sacrifices, says Jehovah? I am sated with burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fattened cattle, and the blood of bulls; nor do I delight in the blood of lambs and he goats.

Isaiah 65:12 And I will number you to the sword; and you shall all bow down to the slaughter; because I called and you did not answer. I spoke, and you did not hear; and you did the evil in My eyes; and you chose that in which I had no pleasure.

Isaiah 66:4 I also will choose their vexations; and I will bring their fears to them; because I called, and no one answered; I spoke, and they did not hear. But they did the evil in My eyes, and chose that in which I had no pleasure.

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