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FRAMEWORKS: Ezekiel

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FRAMEWORKS: Ezekiel 18: Teaching: The one who sins will die

 

[Preliminary Comment: Arguably this is the clearest chapter in the Bible of the subject of sin, guilt, repentance, and salvation. It starts from a misunderstanding [v.2,3] which the Lord is correcting and there are two vital principles declared:

•  Only the person who sins will die – guilt is not passed down generations. [v.4,20]

•  God takes no delight in death but desires repentance and life. [v.23,32]

To emphasize all of this, five scenarios are offered:

•  The one who lives righteously will live [v.5-9]

•  The unrighteous son will die [v.10-13]

•  The son who sees his father's sin and rejects it will live [v.14-18]

•  Where there is repentance there is aways salvation [v.21,22, 27-29]

•  Where a righteous man turns to unrighteousness he dies [v.24-26]

With all this in mind, Israel are called to repentance [v.30,31]

 

 

v.1-4 An Old Saying Rejected; A Principle Declared [1]

 

v.1  The word of the Lord came to me:

v.2  ‘What do you people mean by quoting this proverb about the land of Israel:

‘“The parents eat sour grapes,
    and the children's teeth are set on edge”?

v.3  ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel.

v.4  For everyone belongs to me, the parent as well as the child – both alike belong to me. The one who sins is the one who will die.

 

[Notes: The people had accepted the idea that one generation suffered for the sins of the previous generation, possibly because they misunderstood Ex 34:7 – “ he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation,” to which the Amplified version adds, calling the children to account for the sins of their fathers.” That meant that subsequent generations were to face up to the failures of their fathers and reject those failures and live righteously. The Lord now re-emphasizes that each generation is responsible for their own sins – and only they are.]

    

    

v.5-9 Scenario 1: The one who lives righteously will live

 

v.5  ‘Suppose there is a righteous man
    who does what is just and right.
v.6  He does not eat at the mountain shrines
    or look to the idols of Israel.
He does not defile his neighbour's wife
    or have sexual relations with a woman during her period.
v.7  He does not oppress anyone,
    but returns what he took in pledge for a loan.
He does not commit robbery,
    but gives his food to the hungry
    and provides clothing for the naked.
v.8  He does not lend to them at interest
    or take a profit from them.
He withholds his hand from doing wrong
    and judges fairly between two parties.
v.9  He follows my decrees
    and faithfully keeps my laws.
That man is righteous;
    he will surely live,
declares the Sovereign Lord.

 

[Notes: The general background principle is explained: the righteous will always live.]

 

 

v.10-13 Scenario 2: The unrighteous son will die

 

v.10  ‘Suppose he has a violent son, who sheds blood or does any of these other things

v.11  (though the father has done none of them):

‘He eats at the mountain shrines.
He defiles his neighbour's wife.
v.12  He oppresses the poor and needy.
He commits robbery.
He does not return what he took in pledge.
He looks to the idols.
He does detestable things.
v.13  He lends at interest and takes a profit.

Will such a man live? He will not! Because he has done all these detestable things, he is to be put to death; his blood will be on his own head.

 

[Notes: The next generation will perhaps not follow in the righteous father's footsteps and so will be held guilty for their own sin.]

 

 

v.14-18 Scenario 3: The son who sees his father's sin and rejects it will live

 

v.14  ‘But suppose this son has a son who sees all the sins his father commits, and though he sees them, he does not do such things:

v.15  ‘He does not eat at the mountain shrines
    or look to the idols of Israel.
He does not defile his neighbour's wife.
v.16  He does not oppress anyone
    or require a pledge for a loan.
He does not commit robbery,
    but gives his food to the hungry
    and provides clothing for the naked.
v.17  He withholds his hand from ill-treating the poor
    and takes no interest or profit from them.
He keeps my laws and follows my decrees.

He will not die for his father's sin; he will surely live.

v.18  But his father will die for his own sin, because he practised extortion, robbed his brother and did what was wrong among his people.

 

[Notes: However, the next righteous generation, the righteous son, will NOT die for the sins of his father.]

 

 

v.19,20 A Principle Declared [2]: Each generation bears ONLY their own guilt

 

v.19  ‘Yet you ask, “Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?” Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees, he will surely live.

v.20   The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.

 

[Notes: The overriding principle seen in v.4 is stated again – only the individual is held guilty for their own sin, not subsequent generations.]

 

 

v.21,22 Scenario 4: Where there is repentance there is aways salvation

 

v.21  ‘But if a wicked person turns away from all the sins they have committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, that person will surely live; they will not die.

v.22 None of the offences they have committed will be remembered against them. Because of the righteous things they have done, they will live.

 

[Notes: The principle of repentance is clearly declared. Repentance ALWAYS opens the door for God's forgiveness.]

 

 

v.23 A Principle Declared [3]

 

v.23  Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?

 

[Notes: This vital declaration is repeated in v.32 and also in 33:11 This is what is behind all of these principles.]

 

 

v.24-26 Scenario 5: Where a righteous man turns to unrighteousness he dies

 

v.24  ‘But if a righteous person turns from their righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked person does, will they live? None of the righteous things that person has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness they are guilty of and because of the sins they have committed, they will die.

v.25  ‘Yet you say, “The way of the Lord is not just.” Hear, you Israelites: is my way unjust? Is it not your ways that are unjust?

v.26  If a righteous person turns from their righteousness and commits sin, they will die for it; because of the sin they have committed they will die.

 

[Notes: Previous righteousness is wiped away by subsequent unrighteousness [where there is no repentance following] and life is thus forfeited.]

 

 

v.27-29 Scenario 4 repeated: repentance saves a life

 

v.27  But if a wicked person turns away from the wickedness they have committed and does what is just and right, they will save their life.

v.28  Because they consider all the offences they have committed and turn away from them, that person will surely live; they will not die.

v.29  Yet the Israelites say, “The way of the Lord is not just.” Are my ways unjust, people of Israel? Is it not your ways that are unjust?

 

[Notes: The principle of repentance is reiterated.]

 

 

v.30,31 Conclusion: A call to Israel to Repent

 

v.30  ‘Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offences; then sin will not be your downfall.

v.31  Rid yourselves of all the offences you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel?

 

[Notes: The final point that Ezekiel now makes is that Israel [Judah] need to repent otherwise they will die.]

 

 

v.32 A Principle Declared [4]

 

v.32  For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!

 

[Notes: The key principle of v.23 is reiterated and repeated in 33:11.

 

[Concluding Note: Because this is such a significant and important chapter, the reader is encouraged to check the Introductory notes again and especially ensure they understand the Lord's heart declared in verses 23 & 32, as a filter perhaps through which the rest of the Bible should be read and understood.]

   

    

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