Week 6 – Lessons from the Prophets Cont’d
Day 1 – Individual Responsibility, Ezekiel 18:12,17
Ezekiel chapter eighteen is a very important chapter. While much of the material in the books of prophecy is dealing with the sins of Israel, Judah or many other nations as a whole, this chapter deals with the sins of individuals. Israel’s concept of things was summed up in a proverb that they enjoyed using, “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” (vs. 2) In other words, Daddy sinned and the kids pay for it. God’s response to this was to assure them that they would no longer need this proverb, and He turns the attention to the individual soul:
“Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die. But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right, And hath not … he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord God.” Ezekiel 18:4-9
In the place of the ellipsis (…) is a long list of things that this man should or should not do if he wishes to live. Not oppressing any, giving his bread to the hungry and covering the naked with a garment are among these things. In the next section of verses we are told that if this man has a son that is the exact opposite of his father, the son’s blood will be upon the son, not anyone else. Among the sins of the son we find oppression of the poor and needy. Then the progression continues, if that son has a son and he sees his father’s sins and decides not to follow after him, and chooses to do none of the things that his father did, including oppressing the poor, but instead has given his bread to the hungry and covered the naked with a garment; he will not die for the iniquity of his father, he will live.
God’s whole point is reiterated in verse twenty, “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.”
We all bear personal responsibility before God. Just because our parents were Christians, that does not make us a Christian. Just because our friends are following the Lord, does not mean that we are following the Lord. As it pertains to this study, just because others around us, in our church or community, have the right or wrong relationship to the poor, the needy, widows, strangers or the fatherless, does not mean that we are right there with them. We need to individually examine our lives before God. First, in the matter of salvation.
Where do you stand with God? Do you have a sin-debt that you cannot pay? Only the work of Jesus Christ on the cross can pay that debt. Salvation is not by works, as we have said over and over, it is by God’s grace through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Where do you stand with God in your walk with Him as a Christian? Being in a good church and being friends with people who are serving the Lord whole-heartedly does not make you right with God. Are you serving Him with all of your heart? Do you love Him with all of your heart, all of your strength, all of you mind and all of your might? Is your life fully His?
Where do you stand with God in your relationship to the fatherless, the poor and needy, the stranger and the widow? There is a great need for churches to take these ministries on as a body, but it must start with the individual.
Are you eating sour grapes and expecting others’ teeth to be set on edge for you? It doesn’t work. Try it. I can pretty much guarantee that if you eat a handful of sour grapes your kids aren’t going to grab a hold of their mouths and say, “Wow, that makes my teeth hurt!” At the same time, if we keep eating sour grapes and avoiding the commands that God has given us, there may be some children who will die without Christ because we never stepped out in obedience and told them of their personal responsibility before Him.
Up Next: Week 6: Day 2 -A Man for the Gap
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Also Check out Rachel Miller’s Book: The King’s Daughter: A Story of Redemption