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Ezekiel 33:11

"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?" ESV. My emphasis.

Is "no pleasure" just to do with "no enjoyment/delight", or does it imply that God's will is involved?

Is "no pleasure" a reference to His wrath? This is mentioned in e.g.

John 3:36

"Whoever belives in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him". ESV. My emphasis.

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The OP asks, “Is 'no pleasure' just to do with 'no enjoyment/delight', or does it imply that God's will is involved?” I approach this question by examining the word חָפֵץ (chaphets, Strong’s H2654, meaning to delight in) to see whether it’s semantic range includes the idea of will/volition when used in reference to God.

Brown-Driver-Briggs - חָפֵץ

2 of God:

a. delight in, have pleasure in, with בְּ, persons Numbers 14:8 (J), 2 Samuel 15:26; 2 Samuel 22:20 = Psalm 18:20, 1 Kings 10:9 2Chronicles 9:8; Psalm 22:9; Psalm 41:12; Isaiah 62:4; not in the strength of a horse Psalm 147:10; in doing evil Malachi 2:17; in the death of the sinner Ezekiel 18:32; Ezekiel 33:11; but in mercy, justice, and righteousness Jeremiah 9:23; בחר באשׁר (לא) חפצתי Isaiah 56:4; Isaiah 65:12; Isaiah 66:4; not with (accusative) the blood of bullocks Isaiah 1:11; זבח (ים ׅ; Psalm 40:7; Psalm 51:18,21, or the death of the sinner Ezekiel 18:23 (twice in verse); but with חסד Hosea 6:6; Micah 7:18, אמת Psalm 51:8; with the way of a man Psalm 37:23; כל אשׁר חפץ Psalm 115:3; Psalm 135:6; Proverbs 21:1; אשׁר חפץ Isaiah 55:11; Jonah 1:14.

b. pleased to do a thing with infinitive Judges 13:23; 1 Samuel 2:25; Isaiah 53:10.

c. with imperfect subject (Ges§ 142 (3) c) חָפֵץ יגדיל תּורה ׳י Yahweh was pleased to magnify teaching Isaiah 42:21. — On Job 40:17 see חָפַץ.

According to BDAG, when used in reference to God, חָפֵץ means “delighting in” or “be pleased with.” However, in reviewing the verses in the above reference, I find the entries under 2b to be somewhat problematic. For instance, consider these two translations of 1 Samuel 2:25:

1 Samuel 2:25

If a man sin against a man, then hath God judged him; but if against Jehovah a man sin, who doth pray for him?' and they hearken not to the voice of their father, though Jehovah hath delighted (Strong’s H2654) to put them to death. – Young’s Literal Translation

If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the LORD, who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the LORD to put them to death. – English Standard Version

The idea of God being delighted to put sinners to death contradicts the message of Ezekiel 33:11. Arguably worse is the notion put forth by translations such as the ESV that it is God’s will to do so. To resolve this seeming contradiction, it may help to consider that the word חָפֵץ means literally “to bend down” (see full BDAG entry). The concrete usage of חָפֵץ implies a movement toward something; the idea can be applied figuratively to mean “to be inclined towards something.” What determines God’s inclination then depends on how He looks at our sins, whether through the lens of His love and mercy, as in Ez 33:11, or through that of His justice and wrath, as in 1 Sam 2:25.

Taken in this way, חָפֵץ does not necessarily imply delight/pleasure nor does it necessarily involve God’s sovereign will. Rather, I see it as evidence of God's remarkable self-restraint. In context Ez 33:11 is about the choice that each person is presented with, whether to choose good over evil. When viewed as an inclination, חָפֵץ leaves room for human choice and agency. In other words, Ez 33:11 may help us know God’s inclination, but it is left to each person whether or not to go the way that God is inclined.

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  • @C. Stroud A word that is similar in meaning to chaphets is ratsah (רָצָה Strong's H7521). Looking at the occurrences of ratsah that refer to God, it is used only in a positive context as far as I can tell. This makes ratsah more reliably consistent with the idea of delight/pleasure, I think. Perhaps it is not a coincidence then that ratsah is the root of ratson (רָצוֹן Strong's H7522), the word used in verses that specifically reference the will of God (Ezra 10:11; Psalm 40:9; Psalm 103:21; Psalm 143:10).
    – Nhi
    Nov 9, 2023 at 17:47
  • Thanks. I am starting to look at 7522 and see eg Psalm 103:21 "will" in ESV and "pleasure" in NKJV +10 other versions on Bible Hub. By the way you say Psalm 40:9 but I think you mean Ps 40:8 [?]
    – C. Stroud
    Nov 9, 2023 at 22:23
  • @C.Stroud With "ratson," the concept of will and pleasure are often interchangeable unlike with "chaphets," where sometimes neither idea is a good fit. About Ps 40, I copied the verse from BDAG's definition of ratson under 3a. I don't know why but the verse numbers there are a little off from that of the source on biblehub.
    – Nhi
    Nov 10, 2023 at 0:01
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First, "wrath" is never mentioned not even hinted at in Eze 33. The subject of the chapter is Judgement. In many respects, Eze 33 contains similar material to Eze 18. This is best summarized by the verse following that quoted by the OP -

Eze 33:12 - Therefore, son of man, say to your people: ‘The righteousness of the righteous man will not deliver him in the day of his transgression; neither will the wickedness of the wicked man cause him to stumble on the day he turns from his wickedness. Nor will the righteous man be able to survive by his righteousness on the day he sins.’

Back to V11.

Eze 33:11 states a simple fact, that God does not want to, nor does He intend, nor does He take any delight/pleasure in the death of the wicked! Contrary to the doctrine of some, God does NOT create some people just for the sake of condemning them!

Indeed, Jesus stated this in more positive terms:

  • Matt 5:44, 45 - But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
  • 1 Tim 2:3, 4, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
  • 1 Tim 2:6, “[Jesus Christ] gave Himself as a ransom for all people.”
  • 1 Tim 4:10, For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Saviour of all people, especially of those who believe.
  • Titus 2:11, “For the grace of God appeared bringing salvation to all people.”

Now we have a simple idea - God loves ALL people and want to save all of us!! If God loves all people, then obviously the death of the wicked (who refuse salvation by grace) must be very painful for a God who is love (1 John 4:8, 16). That is, the death of the wicked gives no pleasure to God.

Thus, God's destruction of the wicked is an act of love and administered as a direct consequence of the wickeds' decision:

Rev 6:16 - And they said to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.

[Contrast the situation with the righteous in Isa 25:9.]

Note the comments of Ellicott -

(11) I have no pleasure.—Comp. Ezekiel 18:28; Ezekiel 18:32. Ezekiel meets the despair of the people by the assurance, long before given in another connection, that the Creator and Father of all can have no pleasure in the death of any, and adds an earnest exhortation to repentance that they may be saved. Yet it was very important that there should be no misunderstanding in regard to the basis of acceptance with God, and the prophet therefore, in the following verses (12-20). briefly reiterates the teaching of Ezekiel 18 in regard to the individual responsibility of every one for himself before God.

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  • "God does NOT create some people just for the sake of condemning them!" - this sentence says it all! Nov 7, 2023 at 15:05
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"No pleasure" means the same as "no joy." God's attitude about such things is explained in Jer. 18:7-8

At one moment I may decree concerning a nation or kingdom that I will uproot and tear down and destroy it; but if that nation against whom I have decreed turns from its evil, then I will have a change of heart regarding the evil which I have decreed.

In the NT we read in 2 Peter 3:9

The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

God hopes for repentance, for even "the wicked" are his children. As a Parent, s/He takes no delight in anyone's death. As for wrath, it lasts only as long as a person does not repent, but God's love is everlasting:

Psalm 30:5

his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but joy cometh in the morning.

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‭‭Luke‬ ‭15:10‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

Christ made it known that heaven rejoices when a sinner repents from sin. How would you feel if after the sacrifice you have made for the success of your beloved son and he still failed?

Proverbs 24:17 ESV

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls.

Once you do not align with the patterns of God, you become his enemy. Do you then expect God to delight that he is losing those he has called by his name to the devil?

Look at David, the man after God's own heart, when Saul died, David grieved even though Saul was his enemy. God can not be competing with Satan for souls when he calls you his son and you end up in the hands of Satan.

A father who loses his son to disobedience will rather mourn; e.g. the prodigal son.

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  • Welcome to the site, Atidoglo, and thanks for your answer. On this Hermeneutics site, the text in question needs to be examined, so as you have examined other related texts, can you now link in the Ezekiel 33:11 one? Can you say a bit about the OPs query in light of what you've said about other verses, otherwise your points do not relate to the question. It's not a topic that's being asked about, but a particular OT verse. Hope this is helpful to you!
    – Anne
    Nov 10, 2023 at 14:10

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