Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 months ago

A Proverb Gone Wrong

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Ezekial 18

Ezekiel eighteen, they pick up this book again after a little way, little time away from it. It begins with a proverb, a proverb about things being passed on to children from one generation to another. It's a proverb that is being applied wrongly, and the Lord is going to correct that. So let's give our attention to God's word. Now, is ekiel chapter eighteen. 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 Sun, is mine. The soul who sins shall die. If a man is righteous and does what is just and right, if he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his head to the idols of the House of Israel, does not defile his neighbor's wife or rep or approach a woman in her time of menstrual impurity does not oppress anyone, but it restores to the debt or 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. If he fathers a son who is violent, a shudder of blood, who does any of these things, though he himself did none of these things, who even eats upon the mountains, defiles his neighbor's wife, oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore the pledge, lifts up his eyes to the idols, commits abomination, lends an 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. Now suppose this man father's a son who sees all the sins that his father has done. He sees and does not do likewise. 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, does not oppress anyone, exacts no pledge, commits no robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, with holds 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. As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother and did what is not good among his people, behold, he shall die from his iniquity. Yet you say, why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the Father? When the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. 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. For the righteousness that...

...he has done, he shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live. But when a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice and does the same bombinations 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. Yet you say the way of the Lord is not just. Here 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 a 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 committed. He shall surely live, he shall not die. Yet the house of Israel says the way of the Lord is not just. Oh House of Israel, are my ways not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? Therefore, I will judge you, Oh House of Israel. Every one according to his ways, declares the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgrestions, 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. Sinds a reading of God's word, may He bless it to us. Want to begin by turning to proverbs twenty six nine, and just read this proverb to you. It's a reminder that proverbs are great as long as they are applied well. Proverbs Twenty six nine says that'salms. There we go. Some of you have already beaten all right, trouber's twenty six nine, like a thorn that goes into the hand of a Drunkard, is a proverb in the mouth of fools. Right, a thorn that goes into the hand of a drunkard is like a proverb in the mouth of fools. It doesn't do them any good. It's perhaps even irritating in a way, and it's a mark of their own foolishness. I'm to have a proverb doesn't really do you any good if you are not wise to deal with it, and something like that is going on here. There is, of course, a truth in the proverb that we find in Ezekiel, which is the US. I'll read it in verse two. The fathers have eaten sour grape and the children's teeth are set on edge. Right, dad chumps into something sour and then the children go. There's this this thing that passes from the father to the children. Is the the idea of the proverb. There's something that passes from one generation to the next, and of course we know that's true in all kinds of ways. Biologically it's true. Habits, patterns, areas in which we live all kinds of things, some good, some bad, some neutral. These are this is something we know to be true. But the people of Israel...

...are applying this in a very bad way, and the way they're applying it is this they are remember is equel is speaking to those who are exiled in Babylon and he speaks to them and they have this view in their mindset that we are here, we are suffering, our teeth are set on edge because of what the previous generation did right. They are there in this sort of like, well, what can we do about it? Sort of attitude. This we are faded to be here, this is just, I guess what is. It is what it is and it's and it's all their fall now. This is what they say, but we get a sense that it's a little bit deeper than this. It's not just a throwing up their hands in the air, it's not just a giving up or a blaming of the past. There's also a blaming of God. There isn't there, and we hear particularly in the Lord's questions. Are My ways not just? He says it twice and and it comes out in other ways throughout this passage, ways in which you get the sense very clearly that they are upset, they are feeling that this is not fair, that what has come before is what is affecting them now and that this is not right, that God is not good, that God is not fair. What have we done? Why are we in trouble for what is going on here? Well, in this passage and these accusations in the midst of their suffering, that God is not fair, that God is not good, God takes his children, through his prophet, and he sits them down and he says, let's talk about this proverb that I hear you saying all the time. We find it, by the way, in other places and other forms are not always in a form of a proverb, but this idea. In other places, throughout the prophets, the people of Israel were complaining and God says, let's talk about this. He says, as I live, declares the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. What God is going to show us in this passage is his goodness and his fairness, and in due time, in the Scriptures and through the prophets, he will also show us His grace that comes to us in Jesus. Let's begin with the basic point that God makes here in Ezek late teen, and that's that a man suffers for his own sins and is rewarded for his own righteousness. He is fair in this way and he illustrates this by telling us three stories. You could think of them as kind of a genealogy. You could imagine a three people in your head, a grant, a grandfather, a son and a grandson, and he talks about each of these individuals, what they do, their relationship to God and their relationship to one another. He begins with the first man in verse five. Will call him the grandfather. He says, if a man is righteous and does what is Justin Right, if he does not eat upon the mountains or lift is up to the idols of the House of Israel, and he goes on. They're describing all kinds of things that this man does. Let's consider them. At first it is summarized as one who does what is just and right. Then he gives some specifications. He does not eat upon the mountains. This is not a prohibition against eating upon mountains. This is a and is is a note about idolatry, places that were often called the high places. A lot of times Israel would look to the hills for their help. But where does their help really come from? Say The psalms from the Lord, the God Almighty. But Israel would not look to him. Often they would look up to the mountains, but this man, he does...

...not do that. He does not take his sacrifices up to the mountaintops and sacrifice to the gods. He doesn't do that. Also, in his relationship with others, he does well. He does not defile his neighbor's wife or approach a woman in her time of menstrual impurity. This is one of the purity laws that is mentioned in Leviticus eighteen. He is concerned, in other words, both about his his the way he treats his neighbor, but he's also concerned about ritual cleanliness. He's also concerned that even in areas of impurity and temple and cleanliness, that he remains pure. This is his desire to be in the presence of the Lord, and so he does not defile his neighbor's wife or approach a woman in her time of menstruation, according to the impurity laws in the viticus eighteen. He goes on in verse seven. He does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debt or his pledge. This is a reminder that sometimes when people would go into debt, they would give some sort of article, a cloak or something else. As I say, I'll pay you back. Right, and then when you get paid back, you're supposed to give back that item, give back of the pledge, and there was even requirements to give this back quickly. Right, if you were very poor and you just gave away your cloak and now it's night time in your cold, it's the right thing to do to give that pledge back to this person, perhaps even if they're in debt to still so that they might not be cold for the night. This kind of sense of honor and justice, of love for neighbor is continues on. He says he commits no robbery. Not only does he not oppress those whom he perhaps might be able to, he doesn't rob them either either. Ezekiel goes on. Not only does he not rob but he is generous, the opposite. He gives his bread to the hungry, he covers the naked with a garment. In financial matters, he is right and upright as well. He does not lend it interest or take any profit on this is. These are this is not an argument against profit, but excessive, excessive profit. We might call it predatory lending. Today, he goes on and says he withholds his hand from his injustice. He executes True Justice. US between man and man, and this relationship with men there's always tied up with our relationship with the Lord. And so he says in verse nine, he walks in my statutes, he keeps my rules by acting faithfully. He is righteous. This descriptions. We read it. I don't know if you felt this as well, but when you read a description of this kind of hero, this moral hero, there's something that's satisfying about it in a way like yeah, that's a good person. I want to be with that person, I want to be near that person, I want to be that person. When we hear these stories and biographies of Heroes, of the saints or whomever, this kind of these high levels of morality, they're inspiring in a similar way. But the flip side of this, when we hear the villain described at this man's son in verses ten through thirteen, rightly creates an us a kind of like this person is terrible, this is awful. The flip side of that we have is this person, this sun, who is violent, a shatter of blood, does the opposite of all of these things that we just went he eats upon the mountains, he defiles his neighbor's wife, he oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery and so on and so forth. In the same way that we esteem and we honor and love the one, we hate and despise the other. We...

...fear the person who would do these things to us, where we would want to draw nearer to the person who does well and his righteous that natural reaction within us, that conscience of our speaking, that echoing with the good and hating the evil. That's a that's a good thing. And the Lord at the but what is the Lord's point about these two as he describes each with the one? With the first one, the grandfather were calling him. He is righteous and he shall surely live. He's done well and he will live well. But the son does not automatically get to live well off of the father's righteousness. The son is responsible for his own deeds, and so if he is violent, a shudder of blood, a robber and so on and so forth, shall he live? Verse Thirteen says, and then answers he shall not live. He has done all these abominations. He shall surely die. His blood shall be upon himself. It's not dad's fault or the grandfather, it's it's a son here, and then he gives a third a third son here in verse fourteen. Now suppose this man, the son, now fathers a son. So this is the grandson. Now who sees all the sins of his father. The question, based on the proverb, is based on the violence and terrible nature of this man. Will the sun now inherit this man's death and this man's sins? So here's the answer. Suppose a man father's a son who sees all the sins that his father has done. He sees and does not do likewise. He does not eat upon the mountains are, lift up his eyes to the idols, etc. Another ones. He does what GRANDPA did. It lives in that way. And what is the answer? Well, we read in verse eighteen or verse just at the enniverse. Seventeen, he shall surely live. 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 iniquity. And so the basic principle is really plain. Man Lives and dies in the basis of his own actions, and this is illustrated by these three different generations. A perfect answer to this proverb that has been wrongly applied. The point in all of this is that God is good and fair. He is holding people responsible for their own sins. He is rewarding them for their own righteousness. But we have to keep one thing in mind, is just little bit of a Sidebar, but a very important one, that when we're thinking about these individual people, we are ultimately thinking about a corporate person. In other words, these three people are standing in for Israel as a man, Israel as a body. Remember, it's the corporate body that is making this complaint. It's not just one guy saying I'm suffering from my father's deeds, it's a generation of people, a whole corporate body, saying we together are suffering because of the one who came before us. So Israel, under the Covenant with God, has failed. There have been people, is equels a great example, who have not failed, who have done well, who have lived rightly, but nevertheless is in exile. Why? Because God is dealing with his people here as a corporate body. They together have failed to uphold the covenant, they have failed...

...to keep it. And according to the Covenant, if you do not do the things according to the law, you will die, you'll be exiled, you'll be cast out, you will be cast away from God's presence, and that is exactly what has happened here. Israel, as a body, as a people, as a corporate nation, is suffering a an exile. They're suffering in a way from the presence of God. They're suffering in their bodies and in other ways as well. But they're asking, as a body, why are we suffering? This is our father's fault, and God says here, well, it it is based on each person, or we can say generations, their own sins, and that leads us to a question. Then, these are one of two things. That's true. Either one Israel is right and God is not fair, or to Israel needs to take a harder look, and maybe they're not as free of guilt as they say they are. And that is in fact what's going on here. They're complaining and they're saying, why are you so hard on us? And the answer is because you're doing the things your father did. The answer is because you are sinful. And what we will fear as we go on into Ezekiel Twenty and, as we've heard in other places, in the founding of Jerusalem, and is we'll see even in places like Stephens speech and acts, that almost the whole history of Israel's this history of failure. Sure, there were bright spots and great and holy people. We have a chapter of them in Hebrews, twelve great things to remember and be inspired by. But on the whole, Israel failed. She failed to keep the cove that she failed to do the things that she was called to do. The prophets like Ezekiel came over and over and over again and she continued to disobey. There was always blame shifting and pointing at other directions and pointing at God, as they do here, saying that God is not just, that God is not fair. What God calls them to do here, and has proven in other parts of Ezekiel and will prove later, is that they're not sinless, that they're here because of their own actions, because of their own impenitence, because of their own lack of repentance. We know God's desire to save repent and people. We see it in all kinds of examples throughout throughout the Bible. One of the great ones is when Jonah goes to preach to Nineveh, like barely gets the sermon out of his mouth, it seems, and everyone's like, yeah, you're right, we're really sorry, and let's praise the God and let's give ourselves over to him and ask that God might save us. They humbly say that the king might save us from destruction. And God does a repentance in these foreign people that should call to Israel's heart a sense of a sorrow to observe their own hardness of heart. God calls people to repentance all the time and he is so ready to forgive. The problem with Israel is that they don't want it. They don't want to turn from their unrighteousness. They need a new spirit, they need a new heart, but to keep going after the old ways, going after the old man, the old heart. So this is God. One of the aspects of God's grace in this chapter that he takes this whiny, fatalistic, maybe even treacherous, complaint against their great king and...

...he turns it into a wakeup call. He says, I've been hearing this talk, I've been hearing this proverb enough. I am fair, I am just, and if you are suffering in this way, you need to take a good, hard look at yourselves Israel in their failed righteousness project. It's a bad way to put it, but if you know what I mean, they were doomed from the very beginning. God even anticipates this in Deuteronomy itself. At the end of Deuteronomy it says, and when you have failed to do all of these things. And then he tells them what he will do for them, how he will call them to himself, how he will give them a new prophet greater than Moses, how he will restore to them. They need a new heart. And what we learn in is Ekiel, here in eighteen and throughout the Old Testament, really the whole Bible, is that that heart of repentance, that heart of righteousness, does not come by the power of the law. Just doesn't. The law is good, the laws holy. When we hear we're like, yeah, I want to be like that. Yeah, that's the kind of person I want by my right hand. It's the kind of person I want to walk with, I want to be with. It's the kind of person that God has called us to be. And yet, as good as it is, it is incapable of producing in us the righteousness that we need. Something needs to happen. A miracle needs to happen to give us a new heart, a new spirit. What we need is someone to come and be this corporate man for us, to come and be the Israel that Israel is failing to be, and to do it perfectly for all of us. Ian Do good, a commentator whom I've really enjoyed reading and have been blessed by in studying and preaching through, is Ezekiel. He points out, and I think, based on some other folks work, that this this pattern of these three generations is is probably not an accidental three, but refers to the last three kings that that existed and ruled over Israel before she was cast into exile. It follows the pattern of the kings and it's right in the middle of these two chapters on either side of it that is focused on the royal line. If all of that's right, and I think that it is, it helps to sharpen the point even more of our need. Ezekiel eighteen is pointing us to our need of someone to come, of a king to come who leads us in this righteousness, who allows us to stand in him. And of course this is what Jesus does for us. This is what God gives to us. We come to an end in ourselves and we say, I can't be righteous. I hear the law, I know the law, I say yes, sir, to the law and then I disobey the law. I need something, I need to be saved, even from myself, and that's what God provides for us. He gives to us his own son to be righteous, to do and fulfill the righteous requirements of the law, for us to be the true Israel, to be that second atom, fulfilling the Law on our behalf. And he...

...does that. When we read passages like this or Psalm fifteen, which is similar in some ways, ask this question, who shall stand on God's Holy Hill? The one who is righteous, the one who does what is right? When we think of Jesus, we can say there's the man, that's the one who answers the question. And because I am in him, not through the requirement, the righteous requirement of the law, but through faith, receiving that which God gives to me, I too stand in Zion. I too am pure, I too can rest forever on God's Holy Hill. Jesus comes and gives us the righteousness that we need. He does more than that. He takes on the penalty that we deserve. Jesus comes and he says for the one who has done all of those wicked things, he says, I will pay the penalty for it, and that we see that God is both just and the justifier of men. God doesn't sweep our sins under the rug. He doesn't say well, you not so bad. He looks at them, he looks at us and he says, yes, you are sinful, and so I will place the burden of your sin, the wages of those sin, on my son on the cross. He will die for you, he will pay the penalty for your sins and he will give you his own righteousness. That's why we call it amazing grace. That's why we talk about how wonderful it is, how good it is to know that we will not die because of our sins, but not because God is injust because he is just, but also because he's gracious, and he has given that justice through his own son's death on the cross. So when we hear Ezekul eighteen and we hear the the whining and the complaining and all of this nonsense that goes on not only in their hearts, but in our hearts as well when we relate ourselves to the law. Let's just stop, stop and thank God for his law, thank God for his goodness, thank God for his Justice and thank God for Christ so that we might not be condemned by it but have everlasting life. Let's pray our heavenly.

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