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Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Blame Game (Ezekiel 18:20)

 "The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him."

Hurt happens. As adults we are responsible for the choices that we make and one of those choices has to do with forgiving those who've hurt us. Harboring unforgiveness towards another, regardless of the offense, affects us physiologically and doctor's offices are filled with people seeking relief from past hurts. Sadly, we often cling to hurt we've experienced out of fear that if we let it go then the perpetrator will get away "scot free". They don't!

God promises that the soul who sins is the one who will die. God doesn't hold me responsible for the sins that others commit. I am responsible for the choices that I make (to forgive or not forgive). Yes, others may bear the consequences of my wrong actions but God holds me responsible for the evil (refusing to forgive another is sin) that I do.

Judah couldn't blame their captivity on the sin of their forefathers. They themselves were guilty of idol worship and rebellion. Had they repented of their evil ways God would have forgiven them and just maybe prevented their captivity. Through the prophet Ezekiel, God refutes the notion that their captivity is merely the punishment due to their forefathers. He assures them that their captivity is due to their actions, not those of past generations.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:

Ezekiel 17:1-19:14; 20:1-29
(The first eagle is Babylon and the second eagle, Egypt) As background read Deut. 28:36-37, 49-50, 63-68 and make note of the consequences to prolonged disobedience. Pay attention to the analogy of the eagle.
  • What has God promised He will do if His people rebel against Him and walk in continual disobedience?
  • Who do the cedar, tall tree and low tree represent? (See Psalm 138:6)
Ezekiel 18 (The entire chapter deals with the question "Why does God punish us--those who are in exile--for the sins of our fathers?")
  • Who do the people blame for their captivity?
  • Is the righteous man punished for the wickedness of his son? Why not?
  • Will a righteous son bear the judgment due to a wicked father? Why not?
  • What happens to the wicked man who turns from his wicked ways? Will he pay for his sins?
  • What happens to the righteous man who turns from righteousness to wickedness?
  • Why does the house of Israel accuse God of being unjust?
  • What is God's message to the wicked? What does this tell you about God?
Ezekiel 19
  • Who does the first lion represent and what happens to the first lion?
  • Who does the second lion represent?
  • What happens to the fruitful vine?
(Think about the analogy of the unfaithful woman (Israel) who committed adultery (spiritually) with all of the nations around her from yesterday's reading from Ezekiel 16)
  • What is the vine fit for after it is plucked up?
  • What is the purpose of using these particular analogies in relation to Israel?
(A lament: a formal expression of sorrow or mourning. God feels sorrow and grieves over the sin of His people.)
Ezekiel 20
  • Why does God refuse to answer the elder's inquiry?
  • What did the Israel bring with them when they came up out of Egypt?
  • Why did God have pity on Israel by not destroying them in the desert?
  • What were the people consistently guilty of throughout their history?
  • What is God's goal in His consistently sparing Israel?
Turning truth into prayer
Thank the Lord for His longsuffering with His people. Pray that, we as the church, we will see the seriousness of sin and would repent of the sins that have caused personal and corporate captivity.