Family Bible Study lesson for Sept. 8: God is Just
August 23 2002 by John Tagliarini , Ezekiel 18:1-3, 19-20, 23-32

Family Bible Study lesson for Sept. 8: God is Just | Friday, Aug. 23, 2002

Friday, Aug. 23, 2002

Family Bible Study lesson for Sept. 8: God is Just

By John Tagliarini Ezekiel 18:1-3, 19-20, 23-32

Ezekiel performed one of the most difficult ministries imaginable. He preached judgment to a people already partially exiled because of sin. God's word came not as a curt, "told you so," but as a clear exhortation to repent and receive His tender mercies. Chapter 18 explains the judgment of God. The message is simple: the Lord is just in His dealings with man, wherein every individual is accountable to God.

An irresponsible attitude (Ezekiel 18:1-3) Verses 1-3 certainly show the irresponsible response of a hurting people. I prefer to include verse 4 in the focal passage because it brings the attention back to God. God called for His people to stop using this proverb to shift blame from themselves. In verse 4, God affirms the center of all spiritual realities. We belong to God. "The soul of the father is mine, the soul of the son is mine." All souls belong to God.

We will quit pronouncing pithy sayings in puerile protests of self-defense as soon as we realize the inescapable truth that we will each one deal directly with God.

A child's environment, no matter how desperate, never excuses his or her shortcomings before God. How much less does our sad history excuse our present rebellion?

Individual accountability (Ezekiel 18:19-20) The proverb sidestepped an honest self-assessment of the people's responsibility. As God called their attention back to Himself, He explained the depth and breadth of their sin in the background verses. Stated both positively and negatively, the seriousness with which God treats sin is obvious. These are matters of life or death. Idolatry, adultery, oppression of the poor, robbery, usury, lack of benevolence, faithlessness and violence delineate the soul who sins from the man who is righteous and practices justice.

The argument prompts a supposed question from the people. "Why should the son not bear the punishment for the father's iniquity?" (v. 19). The answer is sobering, "When the son has practiced justice and righteousness he shall surely live. The person who sins will die." (v. 20). No escape clause since Adam blamed Eve, who blamed the serpent, opens any loophole for our exit.

A just God (Ezekiel 18:23-29) Verses 25 and 29 cite protests from the Israelites claiming God is not right. The ensuing argument against Israel turns upon the justice of God's dealings with mankind. When a person repents unto righteousness, life results. If a person persists in or turns to wickedness, the result is death. In light of, and because of our tendency toward sin, we respond to this by blaming anyone but ourselves. Ultimately, we convince ourselves that God Himself is not just to hold us accountable. We think we deserve better.

The greatest clue to God's justice comes in verse 23. God has pleasure in our repentance, righteousness and life. He takes no "pleasure in the death of the wicked." This is a just God! We gain understanding of the depth of God's compassion as we embrace the cross of Jesus, but the passionate desires of a just God were made clear to the Israelites as well.

A call to repent (Ezekiel 18:30-32) The phrases, "repent," "turn away," and "cast away," are brought into balance by "make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!"

Again God affirms His displeasure in the death of the wicked. Again God lays before us the path of life. A person who repents will find freedom from his or her stumbling over sin. That person will receive a new heart and a new spirit.

Salvation has always been an internal matter, an issue of the heart. Old Testament, even some New Testament, writings might be misread to suggest a legalistic obeisance as the way of the Christian life. Legalism approaches God from the wrong direction. God looks for a changed life, which comes from the deepest reaches of our souls. He looks for our will to decide to trust and follow Him completely.

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8/23/2002 12:00:00 AM by John Tagliarini , Ezekiel 18:1-3, 19-20, 23-32 | with 0 comments
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