Ezekiel brings forth the message of the Lord, telling us that the Lord does not delight when a wicked man stays in his wickedness and earns punishment, but rather the Lord delights when the wicked man turns from his evil ways and changes of heart. We have so many in our world today who turn their backs on both the laws of God and the laws of man, who want to stay on the evil path and who do not want to hear the voice of the Lord calling out to them. Some may make the excuse that the laws of God and the laws of man are unfair, but what about the way that we break those laws, that we give into temptation and give into our evil ways?
I remember when a prisoners was once lamenting his prison sentence to me, stating that God was punishing him unjustly, that it was all God’s fault that he was in prison. I knew that this young man had been in a gang, had been involved in alcohol and drugs. I told him that he needed to take responsibility for what he had done, that he was paying for the crimes he had committed, that he couldn’t blame God for this. He was very angry with me and just walked away, not wanting to hear this, not wanting to take responsibility. Not wanting to take responsibility and not wanting to do the work we have to do to change our hearts – perhaps that is why so many won’t turn from their wicked ways.
We hear this message during the first week of Lent, because Lent is all about changing our ways and turning back to God. It is hard to break old habits and to reform our lives. It is hard to break out of the chains of addictions, out of our laziness and complacency. But that is what the Lord is calling us to do. And he will rejoice when we are able to do so.