The wicked man cries out that God is not fair. The man tried. He really wanted to go to heaven, and he did his best. He thought he had done enough. But now God is telling him it’s not enough. God is not fair.
Ezekiel 33:12 ” Therefore you, O son of man, say to the children of your people: ‘The righteousness of the righteous man shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression; as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall because of it in the day that he turns from his wickedness; nor shall the righteous be able to live because of his righteousness in the day that he sins.’
13 “When I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, but he trusts in his own righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous works shall be remembered; but because of the iniquity that he has committed, he shall die.
14 “Again, when I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right,
15 “if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die.
16 “None of his sins which he has committed shall be remembered against him; he has done what is lawful and right; he shall surely live.
17 ” Yet the children of your people say, ‘The way of the LORD is not fair.’ But it is their way which is not fair!”
When a man does good works in order to gain some benefit from them, his motivation is essentially selfish. He has some benefit or goal in mind- wealth, pleasure, a good reputation. When we do what we do for some benefit like this, the time will inevitably come when we decide that we have done enough and now is the time to start benefiting from our hard work. Our essential selfishness comes out and our true nature is revealed. We fall from our “righteous” ways, and do wickedly.
When that day comes, the previous good works that we did will not save us. Our previous outward conformity to God’s law gains us no benefits. We die as the wicked men we are. We die in our sins, under God’s wrath.
But when we, as wicked men, realize that God’s righteousness is not a means to some end, that it is the goal and end, then we turn to it not out of a desire to gain some selfish blessing, but because we recognize- this is our home. This is our purpose. We were created to be righteous, and when I am righteous, I am perfect, happy, content. To be righteous is to dwell in perfect fellowship with God, and He is my exceeding great reward.
This is what it means to repent. It means to rethink our ways, to turn around. This is not about a better way to achieve our selfish goals. It means giving up on our selfish goals, and surrendering to God.
When a man does that, then his previous wickedness is not remembered. He has become a new man, and is embraced as such. All his sins are forgotten.
Ezekiel 33: 10 ” Therefore you, O son of man, say to the house of Israel: ‘Thus you say, “If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live?” ‘
11 “Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’
But the people have not changed. There is no closed door on God’s side. So why do they continue to follow their wicked ways? Why do they continue to pursue selfish gain, to turn to idols, to live immorally, even after they have witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem, prophesied to happen for this very reason?
The few Hebrews still left in Judah look at the destruction of Jerusalem as an opportunity to enrich themselves. Now they can possess the whole land. The Hebrews in Babylon finally acknowledge Ezekiel as a true prophet. He called it. He said Jerusalem would be destroyed. They doubted him. But he was right. So now he is a celebrity, like a rock star, and everyone wants to go hear him speak. They offer much love with their mouths. But their hearts remain hard, still pursuing selfish gain. They hear his words but they do not do them.
Their hearts are hard. They are like dead men. They cannot hear, will not hear, and therefore will die. God is in no way preventing them from changing. But they lack the ability.
Ezekiel 36:22 ” Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went.
23 “And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD,” says the Lord GOD, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes.
24 “For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land.
25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.
26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
27 “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
So God resolves to save the people Himself. If He waits for them to come to Him, it is clear He will be waiting until the end of time. Therefore He comes to them. By the power of His Spirit He transforms that hard heart, so that finally they will know the truth. Finally they will see that righteousness is not a means to gain some goal. Righteousness is the goal. Fellowship with God is not a way that I can get God to give me what I want. Fellowship with God is what I want. This is repentance, and the result is life.
There is nothing unfair about God’s ways. He is very clear and very fair. The wicked man who pursues his own selfish gain will be destroyed regardless of whatever halfhearted attempts he makes at buying God off. But he who desires life and righteousness with God will get it, and with it will get every blessing imaginable.
No man can ever change himself from the wicked man desiring his own gain to the righteous man desiring fellowship with God. The history of Israel and indeed of the whole world proves this. So God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to Earth, to clear the way for fellowship to be restored. Because of what Jesus did while He was on earth, the Spirit of God is granted to God’s people, to take that heart of stone out of our flesh and give us a heart of flesh, to heal us and save us, to do for us what we could never do for ourselves.
The closed door has never been on God’s side. It is, and always has been, on our side. Thank God He did not accept that situation, broke that door down and took us captive, so that we could live and not die.
What could be unfair about that?