Ezekiel 18:32—Does God rejoice over the sinner’s doom?

Problem: According to this verse, God declares, “I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies [in his sins].” Yet in Proverbs 1:26, God declares to the sinner, “I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes.” But, these seem to be contrary attitudes toward the doom of the sinner.

Solution: The answer lies in the fact that the passages are speaking about two different types of people. God does not rejoice in the death of an ultimately unrepentant sinner, since He knows “it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). However, God does “laugh” (is satisfied) when the unwise learn the consequence of their imprudence in this life (cf. Prov. 1:31). “Laugh” is a figure of His indignation at their spurning the path of wisdom for foolishness. God is rightly indignant over the foolhardy and the ways of those who do not fear Him (v. 29) and who bring disaster on themselves. But, in no way does He rejoice in those who go to their ultimate doom without Him, for He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.