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Does Deuteronomy 28:63 Contradict Ezekiel 18:23 and Ezekiel 33:11?

As I was reading through my Bible, I came across a verse; Deuteronomy 28:63. This verse says “Just as it pleased the Lord to make you prosper and increase in number, so it will please him to ruin and destroy you. You will be uprooted from the land you are entering to possess.”

This verse is in the context of Moses giving warnings of judgment upon the people of Israel in the event that they abandon Yahweh and worship other gods (and/or other heinous sins). This seems to contradict Ezekiel 18:23 which says “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” and Ezekiel 33:11 which says “Say to them, ‘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, people of Israel?’”

In Ezekiel 18:23 and 33:11 God says that He does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked. Indeed, in the latter verse, God is literally pleading with Israel to repent so that He doesn’t have to judge them. His preference is for people to turn from their wicked ways and live. God loves all people. That’s why 1 Timothy 2:4-6 says God wants all people saved and sent His Son to die as a ransom for all people. God loves the world as John 3:16 says, and it was this great love that prompted him to give His only Son so that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. Indeed, 2 Peter 3:9 says that God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” And as I have explained in my blog post “The Maximally Great Argument Against Calvinism”, God’s universal love and salvific will is a logical entailment of God being a Maximally Great Being. Yet, God is just (Deuteronomy 32:4, Psalm 7:11, Psalm 45:7, Job 8:3), so He must punish sin. Yet being love (1 John 4:8), God does not want to punish sin which is why He provided Jesus as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 Peter 3:18, 1 John 2:2). All we need to do is repent of our sins and believe in Him. It makes sense to think that God would take displeasure at the wicked perishing if he loved them enough to become incarnate and die on the cross on their behalf.

The contradiction here is only apparent. Does God take pleasure in destroying the wicked or not? You might think that it’s either/or. Either God takes pleasure or he takes displeasure. Displeasure is the opposite of pleasure, so God surely could not do both, right? Wrong. I think the answer to this apparent contradiction is simple; God has mixed feelings about judgment. On the one hand, God is pleased because justice is being served. Justice is a good thing. So a good God should be pleased when evil people get their just deserts. On the other hand, because God loves even those He condemns, He takes displeasure in it as well. On the one hand, God is like “Yay! Justice is being served! The wicked are getting what they deserved.” On the other hand, God is like “I really wish they had made better choices. I wish they had repented. I hate that I have to do this.”

Now we all have had mixed feelings about things at different points in our lives, right? I have mixed feelings when I get more hours at work. I’m like “Yay! More money!” but I’m like “Oh gosh. Retail takes such a toll on me mentally.” [1]Disclaimer: I do like working there. It can just be tiring at times. Who doesn’t feel this way about their job? A second example is the recent ending of the Pokemon anime. I was like “Yay! Ash finally became a Pokemon Master and he became the strongest trainer in the world!” but “Aw man, now Ash and Pikachu are leaving the show. I’m really sad about that. I’ve followed their journeys for 25 years. They were a part of my childhood, teen years, and adulthood.”

So, I really think it’s as simple as that. God has mixed feelings. He is pleased to see justice done, but he is displeased that He has to do justice. He wants people to live. He loves all people.

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1 Disclaimer: I do like working there. It can just be tiring at times. Who doesn’t feel this way about their job?

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