Ezekiel is such a “precise” writer!
And chapter 18 so beautifully arranged!
In it God is proving false a certain “saying” that had developed among the people of Israel.
The word of the LORD came unto me again, saying, What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying … “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge?” The first two of the chapter’s 32 verses.
God seems to be upset at such propagation of falsehood among the Israelites, likely (specifically) among the Jews already in captivity. In Babylon with the Prophet Ezekiel, by the river Chebar. “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”
What does it mean?
The children are being “punished” (at least “miserably affected”) by something their fathers have done! (The children are paying, being whipped, for their fathers’ sins!)
Many Jews were using this “line,” essentially saying … “We have done no wrong! This “captivity” is not our fault! Our PARENTS sinned and God is judging US!”
“Wrong,” says the Lord!
Each son (or daughter) will be judged for HIS OWN or HER OWN sins!
God wants this proverb stopped! “As I live, saith the Lord GOD, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel.” Ezekiel 18:3, where the noun “proverb” is “mashal,” meaning “a rule to live by,” to use as a “standard of conduct!” A guide, a governor!
Individual responsibility, that’s the Message of Ezekiel 18.
Then the Lord gives 3 examples, proving His Thesis.
One … if a Daddy in Israel is justified, lives a godly life (as a result of being “right” with God) … “He shall surely live, saith the Lord GOD.” Verse 9, the first example, the man is being judged by over a dozen precepts of the Law of Moses.
Want them listed?
Verses 6-14 … “And hath not eaten upon the mountains (worshipped false gods and goddesses), neither hath lifted up his eyes (prayed) to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled his neighbour’s wife (adultery), neither hath come near to a menstruous woman (sanitary reasons), and hath not oppressed any (financially), but hath restored to the debtor his pledge (restored a man back his collateral on a recently paid loan), hath spoiled none by violence (no physical brutality), hath given his bread to the hungry (generous, not stingy), and hath covered the naked with a garment (relieved suffering, poverty). He that hath not given forth upon usury (excessive interest on loans), neither hath taken any increase (unfair exorbitant profit), that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity (separated from sin), hath executed true judgment between man and man (fair, impartial), hath walked in my statutes (obedient in his general behavior), and hath kept my judgments (a student of Scripture), to deal truly (not a liar); HE is just, HE shall surely live, saith the Lord GOD … “ Wow, God certainly knows how we live!
Now, example two … if that Daddy has a son! Read it carefully: “If he beget a son that is a robber, a shedder of blood (is wicked), and that doeth the like to any one of these things, and that doeth not any of those duties, but even hath eaten upon the mountains (goddess worship, licentious behavior), and defiled his neighbour’s wife (adultery), hath oppressed the poor and needy, hath spoiled by violence, hath not restored the pledge, and hath lifted up his eyes to the idols, hath committed abomination (homosexuality, bestiality), hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase (crooked with his money) … shall he then live? HE SHALL NOT LIVE: he hath done all these abominations; HE shall surely die; but HIS BLOOD SHALL BE UPON HIM.” The boy will die for HIS OWN sins! He will not escape punishment because he had a godly father! Ezekiel 18:10-13, again … “individual responsibility!”
Then scenario three … this being the son’s son, a grandson. (The wicked son’s boy!) “Now, lo, if he beget a son, that seeth (ponders) all his father’s sins which he hath done, and considereth, and doeth not such like, that hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, hath not defiled his neighbour’s wife, neither hath oppressed any, hath not withholden the pledge, neither hath spoiled by violence, but hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment, that hath taken off his hand from the poor, that hath not received usury nor increase, hath executed my judgments, hath walked in my statutes; HE SHALL NOT DIE FOR THE INIQUITY OF HIS FATHER … HE SHALL SURELY LIVE.” verses 14-17, carefully watch the capitalized statements.
So, in reality, the children DO NOT suffer specifically for their father’s and their mother’s wrongs, iniquities!
Well, not quite!
Ezekiel, near the end of the chapter, quotes these backslidden people again: “Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal.” God is not “fair,” in other words. His “judgments” are skewed! (Blasphemy, by the way, verse 25.)
But God comes back: “Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not YOUR WAYS unequal?” You are the wrong ones, erring Israel, stubborn people!
God does not delight in the death of the wicked! “For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” Verse 32, chapter’s end.
God, righteous altogether! (As in this Bible line: “The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.” Psalm 19:9)
God, never wrong!
Praise His Name!
— Dr. Mike Bagwell
Watch this too! It is exciting. In Revelation 14:13 it is implied that God takes pleasure in the death of a godly man! (After all, he is going to Heaven!) “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.”
But NOT in the death of an ungodly man! (He is going to hell, forever!) “Thus saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” Ezekiel 33:11
What a (loving) God we serve!