The Jews were spreading a “Proverb” among the people, it may have been something they picked up along their worldly ways; the Lord asks them:
Ezekiel 18:2 (NKJV) “What do you mean when you use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying: ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge?’”
In this Proverb they were accusing God of being unfair, by saying they were being punished for the sins of their parents. It’s as if the parents had eaten a ton of candy, and the children were getting cavities as a result.
God responds by simply saying, it’s not true! Every person is accountable for their own lives and will be judged or rewarded accordingly
Ezekiel 18:4b (NKJV) “The soul who sins shall die.”
Ezekiel 18:9 (NKJV) “ If he has walked in My statutes— and kept My judgments faithfully— He is just; he shall surely live!” says the Lord GOD.”
Ezekiel goes on to get very practical. If a saved man has an unrepentant sinful son – that sinful son shall not live (Ezekiel 18:13). But if that sinful son, has a child, and that child sees the sins which his father has committed and chooses NOT to go that route, but instead he walks according to God’s Word (Ezekiel 18:17), “he shall not die for the iniquity of his father; he shall surely live!”
God is fair. The fruit of our life proves the root of our life; behavior reflects belief.
Something else Ezekiel elaborates on, which is also very practical, is what happens if a wicked man turns from his wicked ways and begins to live according to God’s Word? Good news, “he shall surely live; he shall not die.” (Ezekiel 18:21)
But what happens if a righteous man turns away from God? Again, Ezekiel makes it completely clear – that man shall die (and this is not just physical death).
Ezekiel 18:24 (NKJV) “But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die.”
One thing is certain, Ezekiel did not believe in once-saved-always-saved; he was not a Calvinist! Ezekiel knows the truth and loves the people, so he warns and woos.
When a righteous man turns away from God, he will die.
When a wicked man turns away from his wickedness and turns TO God, he will live.
It’s pretty simple. God is fair.
God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, He even died to make us righteous, if only we’d follow Him!
Ezekiel 18:31–32 (NKJV) “‘Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,’ says the Lord GOD. ‘Therefore turn and live!’”
In Ezekiel 19 we discover that Jeremiah wasn’t the only one to write a lamentation, Ezekiel does as well. This was actually written 5 years before it happened, before Jerusalem fell.
The Egyptians came and carried away King Jehoahaz (2 Chronicles 36:2-4) he’s the first “lion” Ezekiel wrote about (Ezekiel 19:1-4). But the Babylonians would come and carry away King Zedekiah (Jeremiah 39) he’s the second lion Ezekiel wrote about (Ezekiel 19:5-9).
Imagine being put in a cage and carried away!
After the lion illustration, Ezekiel uses the vine. Ezekiel speaks to King Zedekiah reminding him of the glory years when Israel dominated the region with royal kings, enjoying her pinnacle at the top for 80 years under the reigns of David and Solomon, they were like a fruitful vine. But now they had sunk so low, they were like a dried up vine and barren, about to be burned.
A sad and tragic condition for this nation, for a people with such awesome potential unrealized; these are God’s covenant people!
A suitable lamentation, by the prophet Ezekiel!
Hebrews 9:1-5 describes the furniture found in the Holy Place, and Most Holy Place in the Old Testament Tabernacle. Every detail and every piece of furniture has Spiritual significance – sermons could be preached on each of them, but the writer to the Hebrews doesn’t have time to elaborate – instead he focuses on Jesus’ sacrifice and contrasts it with the sacrifices the Jewish priests offered.
Under the Old Covenant the descendants of Levi were able to minister in the Holy Place daily, but only the High Priest (who was to be a descendant of Aaron) was able to enter the Most Holy Place – and he was only allowed to enter in once a year, on the Day of Atonement. The Most Holy Place had the Ark of the Covenant which symbolized the throne of God, it symbolized the very presence of God.
This indicates that there wasn’t a way for every believer to enter in to the presence of God. This meant that all the laws, ordinances, sacrifices, and offerings couldn’t truly cleanse the people from their sin, it only provided a temporary covering.
Hebrews 9:8 (NLT) “By these regulations the Holy Spirit revealed that the entrance to the Most Holy Place was not freely open as long as the Tabernacle and the system it represented were still in use.”
It sounds like really bad news, unable to enter in to God’s presence; but the good news is, it doesn’t end there…the rest of the chapter explains how Jesus has made a way for all of us, any day…to enter in before the very presence of God!
In looking back over the history of Israel, there were many, many failures. Like us, Israel struggled with the fallen flesh, the influences of the wicked world, and even the forces of darkness (demons).
The congregation of Israel constantly complained against Moses, which led him to losing his temper, misrepresenting God, and closed those doors for him to enter the Promised-Land.
Once in the land, Israel refused to rid themselves of the sin and sinful influences – they mingled with non-believers (it seemed harmless, perhaps they thought they were strong enough) until the day came when they were doing the unthinkable.
Psalm 106:37 (NKJV) “They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons.”
As Solomon said, in all reality there is nothing new under the son, they were killing babies even back then; the equivalent of modern-day abortion (125,000 babies are offered down every day).
Apparently at the time of the writing of this Psalm, the people of Israel were in bondage, scattered throughout the world; it was God’s discipline upon the nation – – but even there, God was merciful, preserving them, and even favoring them at times.
The Psalmist records his confession of sin, and asks God to gather the people back into the land. God has done this numerous times with Israel, most recently on May 14, 1948 when they became a nation again, fulfilling Ezekiel 36 and 37 (reborn in one day – Isaiah 66:8).
Never underestimate the importance of confession and repentance, and never underestimate the power of prayer, and praise. That’s what this Psalm is – a prayer answered – the restoration of a nation.
Proverbs 27:10 (NKJV) “Do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend, nor go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity; better is a neighbor nearby than a brother far away.”
I believe the context here speaks of friends in our neighborhood, or vicinity; take advantage of that blessing, don’t abandon them, hold on to your friends.
That bond may not be as thick as blood, but it’s a blessing to have friends who are close, if your family is far.
One commentary put it this way, “This proverb is designed more to exalt long-term friendship than to denigrate family ties. Normally in times of adversity, a brother (relative) is helpful (17:17). But if the brother lives a great distance away, a neighbor may be far more helpful (cf. 18:24).” – Bible Knowledge Commentary
Something else that might be good to mention here, I thought it was interesting the way he speaks of “your father’s friend.” Maybe our father’s friend became like an adopted uncle, or someone special to us, we should care for him, because of his relationship with your parent.
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.