In The Word
Read: Ezekiel 18-19
God Deals Justly with Individuals
18 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “What do you mean by using this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying,
‘The fathers eat the sour grapes,
But the children’s teeth are set on edge’?
3 As I live,” declares the Lord God, “you are surely not going to use this proverb in Israel anymore. 4 Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die.
5 “But if a man is righteous and practices justice and righteousness, 6 and does not eat at the mountain shrines or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, or defile his neighbor’s wife or approach a woman during her menstrual period— 7 if a man does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, does not commit robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with clothing, 8 if he does not lend money on interest or take increase, if he keeps his hand from iniquity and executes true justice between man and man, 9 if he walks in My statutes and My ordinances so as to deal faithfully—he is righteous and will surely live,” declares the Lord God.
10 “Then he may have a violent son who sheds blood and who does any of these things to a brother 11 (though he himself did not do any of these things), that is, he even eats at the mountain shrines, and defiles his neighbor’s wife, 12 oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore a pledge, but lifts up his eyes to the idols and commits abomination, 13 he lends money on interest and takes increase; will he live? He will not live! He has committed all these abominations, he will surely be put to death; his blood will be on his own head.
14 “Now behold, he has a son who has observed all his father’s sins which he committed, and observing does not do likewise. 15 He does not eat at the mountain shrines or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, or defile his neighbor’s wife, 16 or oppress anyone, or retain a pledge, or commit robbery, but he gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with clothing, 17 he keeps his hand from the poor, does not take interest or increase, but executes My ordinances, and walks in My statutes; he will not die for his father’s iniquity, he will surely live. 18 As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother and did what was not good among his people, behold, he will die for his iniquity.
19 “Yet you say, ‘Why should the son not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity?’ When the son has practiced justice and righteousness and has observed all My statutes and done them, he shall surely live. 20 The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.
21 “But if the wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed and observes all My statutes and practices justice and righteousness, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 22 All his transgressions which he has committed will not be remembered against him; because of his righteousness which he has practiced, he will live. 23 Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord God, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?
24 “But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity and does according to all the abominations that a wicked man does, will he live? All his righteous deeds which he has done will not be remembered for his treachery which he has committed and his sin which he has committed; for them he will die. 25 Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not right.’ Hear now, O house of Israel! Is My way not right? Is it not your ways that are not right? 26 When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity and dies because of it, for his iniquity which he has committed he will die. 27 Again, when a wicked man turns away from his wickedness which he has committed and practices justice and righteousness, he will save his life. 28 Because he considered and turned away from all his transgressions which he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 29 But the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not right.’ Are My ways not right, O house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are not right?
30 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, each according to his conduct,” declares the Lord God. “Repent and turn away from all your transgressions, so that iniquity may not become a stumbling block to you. 31 Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord God. “Therefore, repent and live.”
Lament for the Princes of Israel
19 “As for you, take up a lamentation for the princes of Israel 2 and say,
‘What was your mother?
A lioness among lions!
She lay down among young lions,
She reared her cubs.
3 ‘When she brought up one of her cubs,
He became a lion,
And he learned to tear his prey;
He devoured men.
4 ‘Then nations heard about him;
He was captured in their pit,
And they brought him with hooks
To the land of Egypt.
5 ‘When she saw, as she waited,
That her hope was lost,
She took another of her cubs
And made him a young lion.
6 ‘And he walked about among the lions;
He became a young lion,
He learned to tear his prey;
He devoured men.
7 ‘He destroyed their fortified towers
And laid waste their cities;
And the land and its fullness were appalled
Because of the sound of his roaring.
8 ‘Then nations set against him
On every side from their provinces,
And they spread their net over him;
He was captured in their pit.
9 ‘They put him in a cage with hooks
And brought him to the king of Babylon;
They brought him in hunting nets
So that his voice would be heard no more
On the mountains of Israel.
10 ‘Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard,
Planted by the waters;
It was fruitful and full of branches
Because of abundant waters.
11 ‘And it had strong branches fit for scepters of rulers,
And its height was raised above the clouds
So that it was seen in its height with the mass of its branches.
12 ‘But it was plucked up in fury;
It was cast down to the ground;
And the east wind dried up its fruit.
Its strong branch was torn off
So that it withered;
The fire consumed it.
13 ‘And now it is planted in the wilderness,
In a dry and thirsty land.
14 ‘And fire has gone out from its branch;
It has consumed its shoots and fruit,
So that there is not in it a strong branch,
A scepter to rule.’”
This is a lamentation, and has become a lamentation.
New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Walking In The Word
Ezekiel consistently referred to the two polar events in Hebrew history: the exodus from Egypt and the exile into Babylon. Exodus was about salvation, deliverance from Egyptian slavery to a life of freedom. When celebrated, there was singing and dancing. Exile was about judgment, immense suffering where God’s people were made slaves in Babylon. It was a terrible time of devastation and lament. The two events depicted the wide range of the Hebrew experience. On one side, there was the joyous exaltation that accompanied salvation. On the other was the suffering which was associated with judgment; Israel was vacillating between the two events.
Ezekiel 19:1 instructed the prophet to “take up a lamentation for the princes of Israel.” A lament is a chant or song of sorrow expressing grief related to mourning. Laments are written out of an “exile experience.” David orders his people be taught how to lament (2 Samuel 1:18). This is not instruction on whining and complaining. According to Philip Yancey, “We whine about things we have little control over; we lament what we believe ought to be changed.” Job-like, the psalmists and prophets clung to a belief in God’s ultimate goodness, no matter how things appeared at the present, and cried out for justice. They lamented that God’s will was not being done on earth as it was in heaven. A lament is proof of God entering our suffering with us and counseling us through the experience.
Write a lament; use Psalm 57 for a pattern. Check out what really happened (1 Samuel 24).