“The word of the LORD came to me:” (Ezekiel 18:1)
You know may know the prophet Ezekiel, beloved reader, from his prophesying to the dead bones that came to life, and not only life but with living breath – spirit. It was a wonderful metaphor of the nation of Israel coming back to life. But alas, human life does pass into death no matter how many times it is re-animated. But the prophet Ezekiel’s testimony was and is life-giving.
“What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, “The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge”? As I live, says the Lord GOD, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Know that all lives are mine; the life of the parent as well as the life of the child is mine: it is only the person who sins that shall die.” (Verses 3 – 4)
The Israelites, depressed and oppressed, had a gloomy outlook on life. They felt because their ancestors (or perhaps they themselves) has sinned such that the wages of that sin passed on the next generation. The Divine says, “NO!” – that each person stands on their own as to their life and the sins that are committed are only counted against the one who commits them. The God-honoring and faithful have nothing to fear. When I first read these verses, I could imagine the Divine getting quite upset and hurt – if you will – that the God-self could be thought to be so cruel, visiting the sins of one generation on the next. The Israelites at this time were a mournful lot.
Later in the passage the gloomy forecast continues.
“Yet you say, “The way of the Lord is unfair.” Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair? When the righteous turn away from their righteousness and commit iniquity, they shall die for it; for the iniquity that they have committed they shall die. Again, when the wicked turn away from the wickedness they have committed and do what is lawful and right, they shall save their life. Because they considered and turned away from all the transgressions that they had committed, they shall surely live; they shall not die.” (Verses 25 – 28)
Maybe “mournful” and “gloomy” are not as accurate words as vindictive towards themselves and other. Judgmental and spiteful, and they consider Yahweh as having the same traits. Now, it is true that other prophets both major and minor speak “the word of the Lord” as the Divine judging harshly called and chosen people. The point the prophet Ezekiel is making that the Lord God is not unfair. Is that the same, do you think beloved reader, as not being harsh?
“Yet the house of Israel says, “The way of the Lord is unfair.” O house of Israel, are my ways unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair? Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, all of you according to your ways, says the Lord GOD. Repent and turn from all your transgressions; otherwise iniquity will be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against me, and get 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, says the Lord GOD. Turn, then, and live.” (Verses 28 – 32)
Beloved reader, are the laws of humanity harsh? It is okay to say “yes” or “no”, or even “yes” and “no”. It depends on which member of the human race is judging . . . . well, which member of the human race. The laws of creation are harsh, yet they are fair because nature does not judge according to any other basis than survival. That is, creation does not judge according to any other criteria than basic survival and continuation. So, are the laws of the Divine harsh? Or unfair?
I could tell you what I my answer would be. But my answer, just like yours beloved reader, is colored and swayed by my experience of life and of the Lord God. You see, the laws of humanity and the laws of creation inter-swirl and inter-weave to make our existence in this earth. The Divine set creation in motion, and set humanity into creation. Then stepped back. Not, mind you, taking on the attribute of disdain or disinterest. The Divine interweaves the God-self into our existence as well, but at our invitation. You know, that raises a whole lot of questions in my thinking concerning Jesus the Christ coming to earth. Maybe to yours as well. That is a stream of thinking, however, that would take us miles and miles down winding theological roads. And this might not be the time; in other words, I digress.
Are your teeth set on edge, beloved reader? I pray that the Divine brings sweetness to your life, and that the judgment of the Lord God would turn your life around and allow you to live to the fullest! Shalom & Selah!