What is the proper response to the death of the wicked by Pastor Don Moore
This is a transcript of a Sunday Sermon for closed captioning. Pastor Don taught on this during our weekly Discipleship classes and Bible studies. It is an important subject for believers to consider, given the recent events. I am putting it up out of order so it is closer to the events in the news.
What is in [brackets] is what the congregation says.
Heavenly Father, Thou art our God, been our God in times past and present, and we know that you’ll continue to be so. Help us to keep the Covenant. Let’s keep our eyes on you. Help us to speak the Word and Truth. Help it to be understood, in Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen [amen]
America’s at a difficult place and a difficult time and that’s because the world is in a difficult place and a difficult time. But we’re to be in the world, but not [of the world] of the world. What I want to say to you now doesn’t make me any less American or any less patriotic. But there was something that happened last week that disturbed me…
As you know, in order to stay well informed, I listen to a lot of, and watch a lot of different news sources. I don’t just rely on CNN or FOX. I look globally at the news and I saw something happen as a result of the death of Osama bin Laden, that bothered me. For a minute it took my peace away.
Being a person that watches the international news, when something happens in the Middle East, and the Middle Eastern people wreak vengeance or violence upon an Israeli or an American, they take to the streets. And when they get to the streets there is a spirit of jubilation. Some years ago, they took an Israeli soldier, they killed him, they threw him from a third story window and the people went to the streets to express jubilance that this man had died. On the day, or the night of the jets exploding into the Twin Towers, the Arab world went into a spasm of jubilance. The fact that so many Americans were taken out in one shot.
What bothered me was that, when I turned on the television two weeks ago, when Osama got hit, I saw the same jubilance being expressed by Americans that this man was gone. I’m not here to judge him. I believe God has already judged him for his part in the murders and the evil that he did. I’m not here, right now, to console those who lost friends or family… I feel that there should be, properly, a sense of justice. That justice was done and carried out.
But I asked myself, as I watched this, what would be the proper response of a person of God to this circumstance? Would jubilance be the right word and describing the right emotion? I’m not saying with these words that I’m expressing here, that there was anything of great value about the man. I’m sure his children loved him and his wives loved him, and so forth and so on. I’m not concerned with that. I’m concerned with the heart of America and how we should express. Should we look like them when something bad happens to our enemy?
What would God do? Remember the WWJD? I kind of went to that. I says, if Jesus was sitting next to me watching this, what would He say about it? And so, just right now, I want to ask you to let yourself answer the question from Scripture. As you know me, I’m a Scripture guy. [amen] You know. I believe that if I have a great revelation, I should find it in Scripture. [amen] So, let’s look for this revelation in Scripture. What does God say about His emotional response, listen to me carefully, when wickedness dies. [hmmmm] Or when an evil person dies? What does God do? What does God say is the parameters of His emotional response to it?
Now some of you were at Discipleship or at Bible Study when I discussed this, so, you’ve had time to think about it. To think if I’m leading you to look in the right place. But my job is to have you not look like the world. [yes] My job is to say you need to look like God.[yes, amen] You need to be God to your friends, your family, your neighbors. You need to be God to the people around you. [amen]
And so, I asked God and Ezekiel is the place that we found the answer. … In the eighteenth chapter of the book of Ezekiel God is talking about how He feels about people and iniquity. He’s talking about people that have sinned, wickedness and wicked people and how He feels about them. And so, He says in verse 21. “But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die.”
In other words, death is decreed, and He’s talking about not just physical death, He’s talking about spiritual death. Spiritual death is living the rest of your eternity separated from God. Physical death is the cessation of life.
So in verse 22 He goes, “None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him;…”
In other words, God remembers the things that we have done that were transgressions that we did against God. God remembers them. And therefore, it tells us that He is a judge.
And He says, “…because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live.”
In other words, the evil that you’ve done, unless God eradicates it, it’ll live on beyond the cessation of your physical life. Lord have mercy, I’m trying to preach here now. You getting this? [amen] You have the cessation of your physical life, [that’s right] but, God’s memory, watch this now, God’s memory is a memory of the eternal. [that’s right] Not the momentary. And He says, your transgressions can then live on in the memory of God, since God is eternal, unless they are what? Confessed and eradicated. But if they are not, they will be remembered by God. And God is an eternal God. Amen? [amen]
We get the answer to our dilemma in the next verse, in verse 23. “Do I have any pleasure at all… Do I have any pleasure at all…”
In other words, God, He’s asking the question, He says, “Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? says the Lord GOD,…” …
Well then, you have to ask the question. Well, God, if you don’t get pleasure when the wicked die, what are you concerned about? He tells us right there. “...that he should turn from his ways and live?”
Hallelujah. [amen] God’s not going to get any pleasure from the fact that a wicked person has died. [amen] God’s not happy about that. He is saying, what makes Me happy is that before the wicked person dies, he changes his ways. [right, come on! yeah!] He gets, he gets an understanding of the evil life that he has lived, and before he dies, … Now why would God be concerned about that? If there is no Heaven to be gained and no hell to be shunned, why would He care?
But it just so happens that the eternal memory of God is gonna remember our wickedness and therefore he is going to judge us and hold us accountable for it, and if it isn’t eradicated, then we’re gonna have to reap the just punishment of a wicked, unholy life. And He is saying, I’d much rather see ya live and turn from your wicked way, before you die, cause if you have to die in your wickedness, I’m gonna have to remember it and hold you accountable for it. [amen] …
Now, I thought to myself, are there any other verses here. We got verse 23, but it says, out of the Word of God, it says, let every word be established from two or three places. [right] Is there another, or any other sentiment that tells us that the way we do is not the way that God would do?
Verse 25 tells us, that the way we do is not the way God would do. “Yet you say, “The way of the Lord is not fair.” Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way which is fair,..”
In other words, the way that God does things is fair, and then He says, “…and your ways which are not fair?”
In other words, when I’m watching television, and someone in the Middle East has killed someone, and they have jubilation, stay with me now. They are jubilant about the fact that this person is dead, but my spirit doesn’t have a sense that that jubilation is what God feels. [right] Come on, somebody. Anybody here? [amen]
You know, don’t be so political that you can’t hear what’s spiritual. Ah, Lord have mercy. I don’t know who that was for Nick, but I put it out there. But don’t be so political that you can’t hear what’s spiritual. What’s spiritual is, God kills a lot of people that need to be dead. God lets ’em die or He takes them out. But guess what? We don’t have any Scripture where it says after God takes ’em out there’s jubilance. We don’t have any Scripture, that when Goliath dies, up in Heaven, God declared a holiday and everybody’s jumping up, so happy, that an evil Goliath died. Anybody with me? [yes]
That’s gonna get complicated if you don’t keep it simple. Keep it simple. [amen] I’m talkin’ about what does God do when wicked people die. That’s what I’m talking about. I’m talking about what is the emotional response from Heaven when wicked people die. So far, we see that God gets excited and pleased when people turn from their wickedness, so that He, God does not have to remember them. [amen]
Not being able to remember something is a spiritual gift. [yes, hallelujah] because you fleshy, you’re human, [yes]. You tell people, well, I’ll forgive you, [ha] and then you’ll go, and I’ll forget it. Well, the reality is, you can forgive ’em but you won’t be able to forget it. Why? Because you’re fleshy. [yes] You can only, watch this now, I’m helping somebody. You can only re-define the experience. … [well, come on Pastor, right, praise Jesus] Sister Joy got that because she’s a counselor. You can’t help them forget it, but you can help them re-define it.
See, some of you are still suffering from events in your life that happened ten, twenty, thirty, forty years ago. Some of you all look old, so I’ll say fifty years ago, too. [laughter] So I said, God’s ways are not quite our ways. [all right now] God’s ways are not quite our ways. And I want to help you with that. Because we’ve heard that so long that we’ve taken it out of its setting and its context. So, hold your place here, and let’s see if we can find that in Isaiah 55. …
Now, for all you Baptist people watching by television, I want to apologize to you beforehand. Cause I’m about to butcher one of your sacred cows. [oh, my, Isaiah what?] Isaiah 55 [amen] … Isaiah 55. Cause I grew up in, you know, Deacon Jones’d get up and do the morning prayers. “Father God, I want to thank you Lord, for our ways are not Your ways.” [laughter] “And Your ways our not our ways. And I’m on my way to get my way, but I need to be doing it Your way. Cause Your way’s the right way, and from now on, I’m eating pizza with the pepperoni.” [laughter] … And he’d be spittin’ and sweatin’, you know.
You know, when a guy comes to the altar with a towel, [laughter] you know what he plans to do. You might as well go to the bathroom and come back because he’ll still be doing what he’s gonna do, cause he’s got a towel. You know. Somebody asked me, why has he got that towel? I says, cause he’s plannin’, he’s plannin’ to sweat and talk a long time. [laughter] He’s got his prop all ready. I said, leave him alone.
See, now I’m concerned about what happens between your ears and between your rib cages. I’m concerned about your heart. [amen] You know, so I’m old enough now that I don’t have to perform, unless I go, unless I go somewhere that the only way I’m gonna reach these people is emotions. I gotta turn, you know, the emotional thing. You know what I’m saying? [yes] Does anybody know what I’m talking about? [yes] Yeah, and then you have to get people emotionally worked up, then you can get them to hear the message. But I ain’t into that no more. Darrell, you hear what I’m saying? [yes] You’re young enough that you’re gonna have to learn that. You’ll have to sense what the Spirit is saying when you walk in, are these people, I have to quote a lot of Scripture and huff and puff, to get them worked up emotionally? You know. And then, you have to be concerned about that. All right?
And, in the Baptist Church, this passage of Scripture is used all the time. “Your thoughts are not my thoughts, and my thoughts are not your thoughts, says the Lord.” Whatever, whatever. And I always thought, is that true? So, I’m reading this passage and I said, verse 8. Verse 8. Verse 8. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
So I said, well, who is God talking to here? [come on pastor]. I go, who’s God talking to that He says that? Look at verse 3, I’m sorry, verse 2, I’m sorry, verse 1. [laughter] “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you--“…
Now, who’s He talking to? He’s talking to people that will enter into a lasting Covenant with God. Is that right? [yes] Is that right? [yes] He’s saying, all you all that want a lasting Covenant, what kind of Covenant? “The sure mercies of David.” So he wants all you that are listening, enter into a Covenant with Me according to the mercy I showed David. I’ll enter into the same Covenant with you that I entered in with David. [amen] Everybody got that? [yes]
“Indeed I have given him as a witness to the people, a leader and commander for the people.”
Say, “I’m a leader.” [I’m a leader.] “I’m a commander.” [I’m a commander.]
He says, “Surely you shall call a nation you do not know, and nations who do not know you shall run to you,…”
Say it, “Nations run to me.” [nations run to me] You say, well Pastor, what nations run to me? Well what do you mean? On your block there’s an Irish guy from Ireland. On your block there’s an Italian guy from Italy. On your block there’s a Puerto Rican guy from Puerto Rico. On your block is a Jamaican guy from Jamaica. And guess what? If they don’t know the Gospel, who are they gonna come to? [you]
What if they don’t know what to do? Whole bunch of people praying in Oklahoma that never prayed before. Whole bunch of people in Arkansas praying that never prayed before. [yes] Whole bunch of people in Alabama that never prayed before, they’re praying before. Been in church all their lives, but never put themselves on the floor and reached up to a Heavenly God and said, “What am I going to do now? My house is gone, my car is gone. I have nothing. What do I have?” And they’ll hear the voice of the Shepherd saying, “You have Me, son.” [yes, yes Lord] … “You have Me. And since you called on Me, guess what? I’ll give you another house. I’ll give you another car. But this time, when you go to church, be sincere about it, cause it matters.” [amen] God’ll let everything be taken away from you till you realize the source from whence it all came. [amen] Give Him glory, honor, and praise and then give Him His portion of it and then He’ll take care of you. [amen]
Was down there at Katrina, you all don’t remember, you all sent me down there. I went down after Katrina, and the waitress was waiting on our table. I learned something. The people are the story. [yes] The people are the story. And I said, “Excuse me, baby.” I said, “Tell me your story.” She said, “What do you mean?” I said, “Tell me your story, your Katrina story. Everybody’s got a story. Tell me your story.” She looked around to see if her boss was watching, she says, “I’m going to go get your water and your bread, and I’ll be back.” She went and got the water and the bread and came back. And she says, “My story is a story of how God looks out for His children.” [hallelujah] She says, “I almost feel guilty about it.” I said, “Why, what do you mean?” She said, “Everybody lost their house in my block but me.” [hallelujah] What are you talking about? Our God is God. [Amen.] We need to serve Him. [yes, amen] I said, we need to serve Him. [yes]
The bell hop, the bell hop is a 45 year old man, is taking our bags upstairs. I said, “Tell me your story.” He looked down the hallway, nobody was here, he backed in and closed the door. He says, he says, “You all Christian?” I said, “Yeah, we’re Christian, we believe in the Lord.” He said, “My story is amazing. He says, I left work here, the day of Katrina.” He said, “It took extra long time to go home. By the time I got home, the thing had broke and the place was flooded. The place was flooded and going crazy.” He says, “But, I figured I’d better go back, go to work, go back to the Sheridan.” He went back to the Sheridan and they sent everybody home. He looked in the lobby and there was a little Jewish couple standing in the lobby. He said, “Why are you all standing in the lobby?” “We live in Chicago. They cancelled our flights, they cancelled our bus, the hotel is closing and everybody’s got to leave. We got nowhere to go.”
He said, “Come with me. Get in my car. You come home with me.” He took that little Jewish couple home with him. Right. They’re in there. They’ve got nothing but candlelight. And he can hear, he can hear the thugs and the hoodlums breaking into every house. And robbing and stealing from the people. He said, “I know you guys are Jewish, I’m a Christian, whatever.” He says, “I’m going to put a candle in the light and I’m going to pray. And the Lord’s going to protect us and protect my house.” [amen] That’s pretty good for a bell hop. [amen] Pretty good for a bell hop. Him and those Jewish people got down on their knees and prayed to God. The flood waters came and receded. Nothing came in his house. The mob came by and bashed in the windows and the doors and robbed every house in his block but his house. [all right! amen] And he took those Jewish people and drove them to Alabama, and put ’em on a bus headed for Chicago, safe and sound. [whew, amen, applause]
What I want to say to you is, this passage of Scripture does not apply to you, oh Child of God. [hallelujah]
God is speaking, in verse 5, He is speaking and He says, “…because of the LORD your God, and the Holy One of Israel; For He has glorified you.” In other words, God’s plan, because you entered into a Covenant, the Covenant of David, God plans to glorify you. [amen] That means He plans to show you favor. He plans, in the moment of difficulty in time, to come to your rescue so that He can get some praise and honor from it, and then you can go from glory to glory. You can go from adventure to adventure. You can go from victory to greater victory. You can go from safety to peace. You can go through conquering and after that conquer some more. Because why? God has chosen you. He has picked you. He has favored you in the same way that a mother loves her child, the Father loves you that way and more. And He’s going to bring glory to your house.
You’ve gotta start believing it. You’ve gotta start knowing it. You’ve gotta start telling people around you, I may not be perfect, but I’m a child of God. And He’s looking out for me. [cheering] He’s looking out for me. [applause] And they’ll say, “What do you mean?” And he’ll say, “Oh, everything’s going down, but guess what? I’m going up.” [cheering] Glory to His Holy Name. [applause]
Look what it says in verse 6. “Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.”
Then in verse 7 He’s going to change the conversation. You all ready? [yes] He tells us something. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower,..”
Lord have mercy, I’m sowing some seed right now. “…and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
Then He changes His conversation, now. Gets back to us. And He says, “For you shall go out with joy,…” Oh, my Lord. [come on] “You shall go out with joy,…”
Who’s He talking to? The wicked? No. He just changed from talking about the wicked, He’s talking about the righteous. And He shall “…be led out with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree; and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
I like to add there at that point, says the Lord. [yes] I like to add, says the Lord. Well, what’s He saying? He’s saying, guess what? The righteous think like me. [amen] The unrighteous, they don’t think like me.
And I thought, I studied that thing, I said, why Lord? And He says, because, when you have, when you come to the Lord Jesus Christ, and you have the Spirit of the Lord dwelling in you, you have My Word dwelling in you. And when I speak on the inside of you, guess what? My thoughts are your thoughts. Your thoughts are my thoughts. [yea] Somebody praise Him in here. [applause] Glory to God. …
(blows nose into handkerchief) This ain’t a prop. You want to come up here and see? [laughter] … Don’t worry, I’m gonna grow up some day. [amen] [don’t grow up] Don’t grow up, right, stay a kid, right? No, no, I have to grow up, and become old and boring like the rest of the people my age. But I’m thinking of not doing it, though.
It says, “Seek the Lord while He may be found,…” verse six, in verse 7, “Let the wicked forsake his way,”… the unrighteous man forsake his thoughts. Well, why does God want the unrighteous man to forsake his thoughts? Because he’s wicked, and his thoughts are wicked. He wants you to get born again, filled with the Spirit, so that you get some God ideas going.
Your problem is you need some discernment to know when God, when you’re thinking God’s thought and when you’re thinking flesh thoughts. You need some discernment to know when your ego is talking and your pride is talking. To know when the Holy Spirit is talking. When the Holy Spirit says, call so and so, and you go, I ain’t calling them, guess what? That probably was a Jesus moment. [amen] And you missed it.
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