Weekly Bulletin Articles
How often do we want to blame what happens to us on someone else? It isn’t our fault that this happened! Growing up in the United States this was called “passing the buck”; we wanted to blame someone – or something – for our predicament. It surely couldn’t be us!
This seems to have been going on since God created humans. Even Adam in the garden blamed Eve, who in turn blamed the serpent when they sinned. But it isn’t a matter of assigning blame; it is about what we do and changing our lives. The Israelites at the time of Ezekiel had the same problem.
“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?” (Ezekiel 18:1-2 KJV.)
In other words, the problems they were facing in being in exile wasn’t their fault – it was what their ancestors had done. They were the ones who had sinned and as a result the people ended up in exile – or so they reasoned. God through Ezekiel dealt with this type of reasoning decisively.
First there was a man who is righteous: he lived a good life, refrained from doing what was wrong, and obeyed God. This man was righteous and as a result would live; God wouldn’t punish him.
But he had a son. The son was not a good man but did everything he could that was wrong including worshipping idols. “ Hath given forth upon usury, 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.”(Ezekiel 18:13). Just because his father was a good, righteous man that did not mean that the son would be accepted by God no matter what he did. Because of the way he lived – what he did – he would be responsible for his rejection by God.
This man in turn had a son. He observed his father’s life and decided that he did not want to live this way. Perhaps he also observed his grandfather’s life and was impressed by what he saw. He decided to live a righteous life, doing what was right, and following God. He would not be held accountable for his father’s sins. Because he lived a faithful life he would surely live.
Notice as well that the wicked father would not be spared because he had a righteous son. “As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, spoiled his brother by violence, and did that which is not good among his people, lo, even he shall die in his iniquity” (Ezekiel 18:18).
What is the point in all of this? We are each responsible before God for what we do. We can’t “pass the buck”. God put it this way:
“ 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” (Ezekiel 18:20).
But there is hope for the wicked person. If he were to change his life, turn away from the sin he was involved in, become obedient to God, then he could change the outcome: “But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die” (Ezekiel 18:21).
Of course the opposite is true as well. If the righteous man turns to sin, he will be held accountable for the sins he is now involved in. It is about what we do, how we live our lives.
“”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 ye” (Ezekiel 18:30-32) .