Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32 - The Word of the LORD came to me: "What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, 'The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge'? As I live, declares the Lord GOD, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die. ... "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? When a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it; for the injustice that he has done he shall die. Again, when a wicked person turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he shall save his life. Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions that he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. Yet the house of Israel says, 'The way of the Lord is not just.' O house of Israel, are My ways not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? "Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord GOD. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live."
Ancient Israel's prophets had their hands full. If Israel wasn't chasing after false gods and practicing paganism, it was finding other ways to rationalize away its profuse sins. In this case, Israel was blaming its ongoing sinfulness on the transgressions of its ancestors. "The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge."
Trotting out this old, worn proverb, Israel wanted to get off the hook of God's punishment—one that was bearing down on them via the scourge of Babylon. Their wordplay was also an attempt to shirk God's call to be holy. Nothing doing. Israel's marching orders were crystal clear from the days of Moses. "You shall be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine" (Leviticus 20:26).
It was the same in New Testament times. Peter writes, "As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy'" (1 Peter 1:14-16).
But how can we be holy? How can we be sinless before God? Well, we can't ... on our own. But there is One who has gone before us, shedding His blood, giving His life for the world, and then in Easter victory, rising from the grave to conquer sin, death, and the devil, forevermore.
His Name is Jesus. In Him there is holiness of life for all who trust their lives to Him in faith (see John 3:16).
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, make our lives holy through the gift of faith in Your Son Jesus. In His Name we pray. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Paul Schreiber.
1. What are some things your ancestors have passed down to you?
2. Have you heard the proverb Ezekiel refers to before? What does it mean to you?
3. Do you feel you're received any negative traits from your parents or grandparents? Have you had to work in life to undo certain perspectives or habit patterns?
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