Ezekiel 18:2–4: “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’? / “As I live,” says the Lord God, “you shall no longer use this proverb 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.”

June 10th, 2018 by Pastor Ed in devotional

This was a proverb, or well-known saying, in Ezekiel’s day; much like the quotes of American-humorist Mark Twain or the witty one-liners of Winston Churchill might be to us today. However, God was making it clear that He did not like this saying, which implied that the people of Ezekiel’s day were paying for the sins of their fathers, as if they themselves had done nothing wrong. This saying was inaccurate, and in fact, maligned the character of Father God, attacking the concept of divine justice and undermining the natural sense of personal responsibility. If this saying were true, then humanity would be the victims of an unavoidable fate, being held responsible for something outside their control. God challenges this saying here because He wants us to understand that He is both just and merciful.

God responds by saying each man is responsible for his own acts and he will be judged by his acts. It is true that if a person refuses God’s gift of life all of their days and dies, then “the soul who sins shall die” (18:4). But if “a man is just and does what is lawful and right . . . He shall surely live” (18:5,9). God’s people didn’t want to repent or be held accountable for their sin. They wanted to blame God and accuse Him of not being fair. As humans, we often think “revenge is sweet,” but God’s motives are always pure. He said, “I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies” (18:31). God takes no pleasure in retribution or revenge. He was calling out to these stiff-necked children, and He calls out to us today, “turn and live!” (18:32).

As the king of England, Richard the Lion-heart, made his way home after the crusades in 1193, the king of Austria, Leopold V, captured him and held him for ransom. The price for his release was 150,000 marks or 6000 pounds of silver, an enormous sum. In order to raise the money, taxes were raised, gold from churches was sold, donations were taken; any way money could be found they found it. The term “a king’s ransom” was later coined to describe this type of expense. Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, paid the most expensive ransom ever paid in history for us, so that public justice (just punishment, just consequence for the law being broken) could be upheld. The Divine Soul, who did not sin, who did what was right and lawful, died for us; and when we turn to Him, His righteousness covers us, and we live.

“LORD, we are and shall remain eternally grateful for Your sacrifice on our behalf.”