Heaven, earth and any leftovers - Unearthing the Truth

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"You shall surely die."

Unearthing the Truth
Published by in Bible teaching · 6 September 2019
Tags: deatheverlasting_lifewarnings
Ezekiel 3.18: "If I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand." Is that what preachers today should be telling people today? To warn them that their wickedness will lead to death?
What did God mean by telling the wicked they would die? Everybody dies. He must have meant die early, by disease or murder or some form of accident. Should preachers today warn the wicked that they will die early then? If 'die' means to die early, they can say that only if God tells them to. ("IF I say to the wicked...") However if 'die' means die in old age, everyone expects that, and they are not going to turn from their wicked ways because of the threat that if they don't they will die, because they expect to die anyway and because they don't believe there is any alternative.
It seems to me that the gospel in the New Testament replaces the Old Testament threat of physical death as a result of wickedness by the promise of everlasting life as a result of righteousness. So instead of telling people, "If you are wicked you will die," we have to say, "If you turn to God to make you righteous you will live - for ever." Isn't that exactly what John 3.16 says? "If you believe in Jesus you will not perish but have everlasting life."
I don't see anything about hell in either case - in Ezekiel or John. Psalm 102.26f says that the earth and the heavens will perish, they will wear out like a garment, they will pass away, they will come to an end. So John 3.16 says that the alternative to everlasting life is to perish, to wear out, to pass away, to come to an end. It does not say to continue to live for ever in hell. Psalm 103 says that God will not keep his anger for ever, so how can he continue to torture people in hell for ever?
It is good news that we have to proclaim, that people can live for ever if they only put their trust in Jesus who himself conquered death! But they can do that only if they first turn from their wicked ways of unbelief and independence from God and ingratitude to him for his blessings and disobedience to his laws. Ezekiel is 100% correct in telling people that to live they must turn from their wicked ways, so long as we understand the word ‘live’ as 'live for ever’. His words that the wicked will perish and the righteous will live are totally true if he is talking about the final death or the everlasting life of our soul, which are the only two alternatives in the age to come. (John 3:16)
And what will happen to those of us who do believe in Jesus if we do not proclaim that good news? Will God require the blood of unbelievers at our hand??? Perhaps the warning part of Ezekiel’s message should be directed more at us who believe rather than at the wicked who do not believe!

1 comment
2019-09-15 08:15:23
Very good Arnold
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