Today’s readings are Ezekiel 18-20
Rabbit Trails
We begin chapter 18 with YHWH giving Ezekiel a very particular message for Israel regarding a common saying in their day. In fact, this was SUCH a common saying that it was even referenced (or rather, refuted) in Jeremiah 31:29-30 and Lamentations 5:7.
‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’ from Ezekiel 18:2
The saying essentially meant that each generation had to pay for the sins of their fathers. It was said in complaint and used often to blame their ancestors for their own lot in life. In having this attitude, it allowed folks to live with a mindset of thinking it didn’t matter if they obeyed or not because regardless they would be punished based on their father’s behavior so they might as well just live how they choose. It also put them in a place of accusing YHWH of being unjust.
Sidenote: YHWH is a God of justice. Period. 
Chapter 18 goes on to paint illustrations of just how this actually works according to the Father. Note that, once again, the Father’s actual ways contradict what the world says His ways are. Here we have YHWH giving people first hand information about Him so that they can choose who they will believe, yet again. Remember, YHWH’s word is our straight edge to which all else must line up.
“If a man is righteous and does what is just and right— if he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife or approach a woman in her time of menstrual impurity, does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, commits no robbery, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, does not lend at interest or take any profit, withholds his hand from injustice, executes true justice between man and man, walks in my statutes, and keeps my rules by acting faithfully—he is righteous; he shall surely live, declares the Lord God. Ezekiel 18:5-9
Righteous man does what is right – YHWH will bless Him.
10 “If he fathers a son who is violent, a shedder of blood, who does any of these things 11 (though he himself did none of these things), who even eats upon the mountains, defiles his neighbor’s wife, 12 oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore the pledge, lifts up his eyes to the idols, commits abomination, 13 lends at interest, and takes profit; shall he then live? He shall not live. He has done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon himself. Ezekiel 18:10-13
A man chooses to do evil, he brings curses upon himself.
14 “Now suppose this man fathers a son who sees all the sins that his father has done; he sees, and does not do likewise: 15 he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife, 16 does not oppress anyone, exacts no pledge, commits no robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, 17 withholds his hand from iniquity, takes no interest or profit, obeys my rules, and walks in my statutes; he shall not die for his father’s iniquity; he shall surely live. 18 As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother, and did what is not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his iniquity. Ezekiel 18:14-18
However, if a man is evil and his son sees that and decides not to walk in those same ways – the son will be blessed for his ways and not pay the price for his father’s sins. Each generation has the choice to walk in the curses of their fathers or break them by walking in the way of the Father.  I’ve seen generations of family members walking in curses, passing these ways down to their children and grandchildren, and then someone chose stand in the midst of that and take the narrow path. Generations to come reaped the blessings of that one action.
This principle of YHWH is summed up at the end of Ezekiel 18:20
The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. Ezekiel 18:20
See also: Deut 24:16, Jeremiah 31:30.
We also see another side to this in Exodus 20:5 but I do not see this as the least bit contradictory. Below are some of my notes from Exodus 33-35 to explain why: 

Notes from Exodus 33-35 : Okay so let us talk about these 3-4 generations and how they are being punished for the sins of their parents (YHWH, in His wisdom deems it so and we are not questioning His judgement, just examining the effects). If you think about it, back then families lived together with a few generations under one roof. 3-4 generations would have simply been great grandpa, grandpa, father, and son. Basically, if someone sinned against God, the result of that sin would have naturally been felt by the entire household. Just a thought.

One example to bring this to our own time is how an alcoholic and abusive father affects his household. His drinking and abuse would cause agony in the lives of every family member. They might be more likely to react abusively in other situations and studies show they would be more prone to alcoholism. This is just one of the ways curses can be passed down. Today we refer to them as “cycles of abuse”. I personally know families with generations of this behavior in them. It’s taught, passed down.

These are generational curses and more often than not they consist of new generations repeating the pattern set forth by previous generations.

In this way we either bless or we curse our children by how we live our own lives.

Very important note: It has always been possible to get out from under a generational curse- or the consequences of the sins of a previous generation-by repenting and turning to YHWH. There are many verses about this, here are two to get you started. Leviticus 26:39-42, Malachi 3:6-7

We will see, time and again in our reading, that though a civilization or people may condemn themselves through their behavior, YHWH always has a path for individuals in that group to repent. 

Remember this extremely important point. 

YHWH has always shown Grace to those who would turn away from that and back to Him.

I do want to point something out in Ezekiel 18:10 where the narrative of the sinful son of a righteous father begins. At first, it may look like YHWH is saying that the father will die for his son’s sins but if you keep on reading you see that is not the case. Pay attention to Ezekiel 18:13 where it mentions that “he has done all these things” to reinforce that this is reference to the son. It is one of those passages that is written in such a way that it could be seen as opposite of what it is actually saying when taken out of context. (We will see a LOT of this with Paul’s writings. People love love love to pull out some Paul and pretzel twist it a bit). What YHWH says in Ezekiel 18:20 clarifies this just in case there is any doubt.
The Father uses this as an opportunity to teach us, once more, as He has done time and time again, about His character.

“Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” Ezekiel 18:23

He takes no pleasure in this. His hope and pleasure is when His people repent and return to Him.

24 But when a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice and does the same abominations that the wicked person does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, for them he shall die.25 “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? Ezekiel 18:24-25

This is yet another passage where popular doctrines contradict what YHWH says, in this case it is the “once saved always saved” doctrine proven wrong yet again. We’ve read this being refuted a couple of times before in previous books so this is no surprise to us. The Father is defending Himself against those who say He is unjust by declaring, plainly, how just He actually is.

Something to think on: Who would declare that YHWH is unjust- one who seeks to repent or one who does not want to repent?

Chapter 20 shows the Father taking the time to, AGAIN, remind Israel of what all He has done for them and how many times He has asked them to turn from their ways. (Remember our conversation about being so worried about not getting the mark of the beast that we aren’t even thinking about whether or not we have the mark of the Father? One of those marks, or signs, of the Father is mentioned here.) This entire chapter goes into great detail and should be read carefully. Here is just one small portion of it for reference here:
18 “And I said to their children in the wilderness, ‘Do not walk in the statutes of your fathers, nor keep their rules, nor defile yourselves with their idols. 19 I am the Lord your God; walk in my statutes, and be careful to obey my rules, 20 and keep my Sabbaths holy that they may be a sign between me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God.’ 21 But the children rebelled against me. They did not walk in my statutes and were not careful to obey my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live; they profaned my Sabbaths. Ezekiel 20:18-21
I am reminded of myself as a parent when the kids were little and how sometimes I’d have to say the same thing over and over again. Sometimes I’d get frustrated and think “How many times am I going to have to say this?”
Through the course of living, I came to realize that a parent’s love usually leads us to the answer of “One more time.” Of course, being a good parent, eventually you’ll stop with the warnings and let them learn it for themselves.
That is what I see happening now in our time. We’ve pushed Him out. We’ve told Him we don’t need Him. We’ve set up our worship according to our ways and told Him that our way of doing things is better. We’ve decided we don’t need to read the Bible and it’s better to just read books about the Bible instead.
He has warned us time and again and given us the complete book of instructions for our time here on this earth – but we choose to go our way. So when His warnings and signs go unheeded, like a good parent, He lets us have our way so we can see where that gets us.
I want to end my notes today by backtracking a little to chapter 18 again.

“But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him…” Ezekiel 18:21-22

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again whenever I have a chance for the rest of my days:

He has always been a God of Grace.

Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21

We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!

May YHWH bless the reading of His Word!

Print This Post Print This Post

Christy Jordan
Latest posts by Christy Jordan (see all)