Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ezekiel 18:20

The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

This exhortation, given by the Lord God, came to Israel during a time when they were proliferating a proverb amongst themselves that said: 
     ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
     And the children’s teeth are set on edge’ vs 2
Now the proverb was attempt on their part to accuse God of dealing unjustly with them. Of His bringing to bear their fathers sins upon them; and thus in response to how they thought God was dealing with them, they thought it only fair that God should not repay them for their sins, but rather He should repay their descendants (see Ezekiel 18:19-32).  
Therefore the Lord God through His prophet Ezekiel refutes their misunderstandings of His dealings with them (and all people, Ezk.18:4). Thus through Ezekiel God makes it clear that it is not the sins that ones parents have done that ultimately brings His judgment on oneself, rather it is what we have done, or not done, that brings God's judgment on us when it is nessecary. And thus God says if a son (or daughter) sees the sins which their father (or mother) commits and instead of following them turns away from the sins of their parents, and thus chooses to do what is right in the sight of God, that person shall live, they shall have God's favor. For that person is doing what is just and right in the sight of God why then should they be punished? Now regarding this principal consider King Hezekiah who was by all accounts one of the most Godly of all of Judah's kings, though a man who came from an ungodly home. Nonetheless as Hezekiah grew and he saw all the evil that his father had committed when he reigned (see 2 Kings 16:1-4), instead of following it, Hezekiah forsook his fathers ways, and instead choose God's way (see 2 Kings 18:1-8; 2 Chr. 29:1-31:21). Therefore God made Hezekiah to prosper greatly during his own reign (see 2 Kings 18:6-7), even when God's imminent judgment was looming over the entire nation for their disobedience towards Him.
Now this principal also applies to ones children; for just as God does not punish children for the sins of their parents, so to God does not punish parents for the sins of their offspring. Thus God says through Ezekiel if a person has a child that is a thief, a robber, an adulterer, or one who sheds innocent blood, or mistreats the poor etc. God's wrath rests on that child/person who commits whatever sins they commit, not on their parent/s. "For the soul who sins shall die."
God then takes it a step further and says, if a person is living just and right in His sight, but then turns away from doing what is just and right, and instead sins, then that person is guilty in His sight, they have sinned, and thus God says they shall die (Ezk. 18:20; also see Ezekiel 3:16-21 as this parallels the principals here). Now these exhortations are given in light of Israel's relationship to God through the Old Covenant. A Covenant that clearly has strict punitive measures attached to it if one fails in it. Nonetheless the Scriptural and unchanging principal remains: "the soul who sins shall die". For on one hand there is the Scriptural warnings (in both the Old and New Testaments) of God's wrath and judgment finding everyone who sins (consider Rom 2:4-16). Yet their is also His New Covenant Promise of new and everlasting life to everyone who repents and believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. For just as each person will ultimately suffer God's judgment for their own sins, so also each person will live or die eternally, based on their own faith in, or rejection of, Jesus Christ as Lord of all.
Now the Israelites in one sense were being punished for the sins of their fathers (that is those sins that their fathers committed, and which they themselves were continuing on in, and thus they were being punished for those things in their present tense. But only because the Israelites were unmoved out of them. They like all people everywhere have the option to turn from their sins, turn to God, and be healed of them as Jesus commands us all to do. For in reading the O.T. one can clearly see how many times God sent His prophets to warn them, and testify against them, to turn them back from their sins to Himself so that their own iniquities would not be their ruin (Ezekiel 18:30-31). For God has no delight in the death of anyone (Ezekiel 18:32). But rather that they would listen to Him (Jer 7:1-27). And thus we read of Jerusalem's horrible plight in the Book of Lamentations as Jeremiah the prophet mourns the punishment of God's people for their and their fathers sins (Lam 5:7).

Now I don't no where your at in your faith journey, but know this that above all else, that God loves you! Unconditionally and absolutely God loves you! Not because what you have done, or not done, or even can do. God simply loves you because He is love, and He made you in His image to both love Him and know Him. Therefore He wants you to be in a loving relationship with Himself, so you can personally and powerfully know Him as well. For God knows absolutely everything there is to know about you (all the good, as well as all the bad) and still He loves you. That is paramount. Yet as with O.T. Israel there is a barrier to our being in a relationship with God and experiencing His love and that is our sins. For it is both our sin nature (which we inherited from Adam) as well as the sins we have committed and continue to commit as free will individuals that keep us separated from God. And thus we cannot know God personally until our sins are dealt with. Now in order to deal with all our sins once and for all, God sent His Son the Lord Jesus Christ to suffer and die a horrible crucifixion death in our place so that God could look on Jesus' suffering and death as fulling His justice and judgment on our sins, and so Jesus is not only our Savior He is our Substitute having died in our place for us. That is why in the Old Covenant a sacrificial lamb was offered and put to death in place of the offender, so that God could look on it's shed blood and be satisified with His justice having been served. For Scripture says that without the sheeding of blood their is no remission of sins (Heb 9:22). Therefore the Lord Jesus Christ willingly died in our place, so that whoever looks to Him, trusting His death on the cross for them, will have remission of all their sins and eternal life.
That is God's Promise in God's Word to all people everywhere (John 3:15-16). For again God has no delight in the death of anyone. But rather wants all people to come to know Him through His Son. Therefore I implore be reconciled to God! For God sent His only begotten Son Jesus Christ to suffer and die for us all, to take God's punishment for all our sins on Himself, by His being crucified for them so that we by faith in Him can have new and everlasting life! For that is how God now deals with all of humanity through His New Covenant ushered by the Lord Jesus Christ. If you believe and would like to seal your decision for the Lord Jesus Christ and receive His life, why not pray a simple prayer in faith asking Jesus Christ  to come into your heart and life to be your Lord and Savior, for once that is done, trust me everything else in this life is a bonus!

Therefore simply pray this a prayer, a prayer based on what Billy Graham commonly uses:  Dear Lord Jesus I know that I have sinned and I need Your forgiveness. I believe You were crucified for my sins so I could be forgiven and reconciled back to God. Therefore I now invite You into my heart and life, to be my Lord and Savior, both now and forever amen.

Scripture Quotations
The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982

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