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Now there are instructions for those who have been taken to Babylon, and Ezekiel now turns and speaks to them.
The word of the LORD came unto me, saying, What mean ye, that you use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge? ( Ezekiel 18:1-2 )
Now, it is interesting that Ezekiel was in Babylon, and this proverb was at that time being spoken in Babylon. They're going around saying, "Well, our fathers ate sour grapes, and our teeth are set on edge." In other words, "We are bearing the results of our fathers' sins. We're suffering because of what our fathers did."
Now Jeremiah makes mention of the fact that this same proverb was being spoken back in Jerusalem. Those people in the siege were saying, "Our fathers have eaten sour grapes, and our teeth are set on edge." It's interesting how that we just don't like to take the blame for what we have done. We always like to blame someone else. So, if you're some kind of a neurotic nut, you go to a psychologist and they'll tell you, "Well, it's not you, it's your father, you see. That's your problem, your father ate the sour grapes. Now you're a neurotic mess, you know." Hey, you are what you are, and you might as well take responsibility for yourself. Quit trying to blame someone else for all of your ills or all of your problems.
That whole business of trying to blame someone else goes back to the beginning. God said, "Adam, what have you done?" "Oh, the woman that You gave me to be my wife, she did tempt me and I did eat." Rather than accept the responsibility for what a person has done, we always like to throw it over onto someone else. We're quite irresponsible in this manner.
But God is saying, "What is this proverb that these people are saying? 'Our fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge.'"
As I live, saith the Lord GOD ( Ezekiel 18:3 ),
God's going to explode this proverb now.
ye shall not have an occasion to use this proverb any more in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: and the soul that sinneth, it shall die ( Ezekiel 18:3-4 ).
Every man is gonna be responsible to God for himself. When I stand before God, I'm gonna have to answer for only one person--me. I'm not gonna have to answer for my children or my wife, as close as we are. The only one I answer to God for is me. The only one God is gonna talk to me about is me. When you stand before God, you're only gonna be responsible for you. But you will be responsible for you. You're gonna have to answer to God for yourself. And you can't say, "Well, my dad was... " or, "My mom was... " You can't throw it off. You're gonna... the soul that sinneth, it shall die. And God isn't gonna punish your parents for what you are, nor is He going to punish you for what your parents were. Nor is He gonna reward you for what your parents were, or reward your parents for what you are, as the case may be. Each man stands before God as an individual and answers for himself. And it's time that you face up to that reality and you begin to be responsible before God, knowing that we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account for the things that we have done while we've been living in these bodies. Whether they be good or evil. Might as well prepare yourself.
But if a man is just, and does that which is lawful and right, And has not eaten upon the mountains [that is, these abominable feasts to these pagan gods], or lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled his neighbor's wife, neither has come near a menstruous woman, And hath not oppressed any, but hath restored to the debtor his pledge ( Ezekiel 18:5-7 ),
When someone would give you a pledge for a debt, a lot of times they would just keep the pledge.
and has spoiled none by violence, and has given his bread to the hungry, and has covered the naked with a garment; He that hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, and hath executed true judgment between man and man, Hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; his is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord GOD ( Ezekiel 18:7-9 ).
Now those are the things, if you want to live by the law, that you'll have to do. Now God has a better way of righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ.
If he beget a son that is a robber, or a shedder of blood, and that does the like to any of these things, And that does not any of those duties, but has eaten upon the mountains, and defiled his neighbor's wife, oppressed the poor and needy, has spoiled by violence, has not restored the pledge, and has lifted up his eyes to idols, and committed abomination, and has given forth upon usury [loaned with usurious interest rates], and hath taken increase: shall he then live? he shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him. Now, lo, if he beget a son, that sees all of his father's sins which he has done, and considers, and does not such like, That he has not eaten upon the mountains, neither has lifted up his eyes to the idols to the house of Israel, nor defiled his neighbor's wife, Neither has oppressed any, nor withheld the pledge, [and so forth]. That he hath taken of his hand for the poor, and he hath not received usury nor increase, and has executed my judgments, has walked in my statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live ( Ezekiel 18:10-17 ).
Every man answers for himself.
As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, spoiled his brother by violence, and did that which is not good among his people, and lo, he shall die in his iniquity. Yet you say, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live. The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. But if the wicked will turn from all of his sins that he has committed ( Ezekiel 18:18-21 ),
God's grace, God's mercy, if the wicked will turn.
and keep my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he will not die. And all his transgressions that he has committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his way, and live? ( Ezekiel 18:21-23 )
God is so maligned in the minds of people. As people look upon God as some kind of a vengeful character who is just waiting to cast people into hell. Not so. God is so patient, so long-suffering. He'll do anything to keep a person out of hell. He has done everything to keep a person out. He even sent His only begotten Son to bear all of our sins to make it so easy to get into heaven. And to get into hell, you have to go against the grace of God, the love of God. You have to despise His Son Jesus Christ, turn your back upon the provisions of God and really, you have to in a sense, cross over the body of Jesus Christ to get into hell. Because He stands in your way to block you. And you've got to shove Him aside. It's not easy to get to hell. You've got to fight God every step, conviction of God's Holy Spirit. But if you're stubborn enough and hang in there, you can make it.
But when the righteous turns away from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, [and listen carefully] and does according to all of the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All of his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in the trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die. Yet ye say, The way of the Lord isn't equal. [That isn't fair. God said,] Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal? When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, and dies in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die. Again, when the wicked man turns away from his wickedness that he has committed, and does that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. Because he is considered and turned away from all of his transgressions that he hath committed, and he shall surely live, he shall not die. Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal? Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ( Ezekiel 18:24-32 ).
So God's cry unto Israel. "Look, turn from your transgressions. Turn to Me and live. I don't have any pleasure in the death of the wicked. Turn and live." God's pleading with them. You say, "But what does that mean if the righteous turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity and dies in his iniquity his righteousness will not be remembered?" Well, that's for you to figure out. I think it means what it says. "
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Ezekiel 18". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany