Which Button Would You Push?

Bible Reading: Ezekiel 32; 33:1-20 - Listen to Ez. 32-33

I love the commercial where a big piano drops on some jerk when he walks out of his house! I probably shouldn't admit it, but there are certain people I wish God would just wipe off the face of the earth. When I hear about people abusing, raping, shooting and killing other human beings... when a friend shares the horrors of rape or incest, or the terror of domestic violence, or the pain of an unfaithful spouse... I want some heads to roll. If I were God, I would obliterate every wicked person on the planet.

God has some pretty good ideas himself for how those who "spread terror in the land of the living" should "go down to the pit" (32:18-32). Listen to what he plans to do to the evil king of Egypt: "I will throw you on the land and hurl you on the open field. I will let... all the beasts of the earth gorge themselves on you.... I will drench the land with your flowing blood... and the ravines will be filled with your flesh" (32:3-6).

When we read the sections of the Bible where God metes out justice, we often cringe at the wrath of God, and yet those people were so desperately evil that others were crying out for God to do something to even the scales of justice. He actually has the power the do the very thing we sometimes wish we could do if we were God. So why does God wait so long before he stamps out the wicked?

What if God were to put the object(s) of my disgust on a plank suspended between the dark pit of hell and the bright hope of heaven? If I were presented with the power to choose their fate, would I push the button that blows them up into a million pieces and drops every molecule permanently into the flaming pit of eternal darkness, or would I push the button that causes God's light to penetrate their dark souls and totally transforms them into the people God designed them to be?

Obviously, that choice is not mine to make. Each one on the plank is given the power to decide WHICH fate will be theirs before God decides WHEN to make their choice an eternal one. "As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die...?" (33:11). God will not deny the wicked the hope of restoration if they turn away from their sin; nor will he will spare the righteous from destructive consequences if they turn away from God (33:12-16). His hope for everyone is that they will turn to seek him. "The Lord... is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).

Is it unfair for such wicked people to escape eternal punishment? Is it wrong that they were ever allowed to wreak such havoc in the lives of others? Of those who say "The way of the Lord is not just," God says, "But it is their way that is not just.... I will judge each of you according to his own ways" (33:17,20). We accuse God of being unjust because we can only see a small picture of the world through the light of our own limited experiences, while God sees the whole picture through the light of eternity. We want to push the button to destroy the wicked because we want them to pay dearly for the pain they've caused and it seems that God just isn't paying attention. God says we're the ones who aren't being fair.

We can only choose which button we will reach out for in regard to our own lives. Let us reach out to Jesus and allow him to transform us into the people he created us to be. As for the scum who remain among the living, we can either harbor hatred or we can choose to demonstrate God's love to them and to pray that they, too, will reach out for his love and mercy. The strength to choose well comes from Jesus, who lived the words he taught us, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Mt. 5:44).