In the middle of today’s reading, in chapter 18, the LORD asks through Ezekiel: "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'? It is the perfect excuse: if our fathers sinned, why are we being judged for it?
We’ve heard this complaint before in Jeremiah 31, and here the LORD uses a multi-generational illustration to chop it down. If a man is righteous and does what is just and right…he will live. If he fathers a son who is violent, a shedder of blood…oppresses the poor and needy…[and] lifts up his eyes to idols… shall he then live? But there’s more: “Now suppose this man fathers a son who sees all the sins that his father has done; he sees and does not do likewise… he shall not die for his father’s iniquity; he shall surely live.”
Consider the implications of this. You’ll remember that Jerusalem’s downfall was promised during the reign of Manasseh – over 50 years ago. It seemed that this fate was sealed. However, we saw multiple times in Jeremiah that the LORD promised to give the righteous their lives as a prize of war. What does justice look like, as God exercises it?
Now before you head into the reading: chapter 16 is a graphic representation of how the LORD perceives Judah, based on the metaphor of a jilted husband. While most of today’s reading deals with Judah’s treachery and its coming judgment, chapter 16 is a proficiently crafted accusation laden with pure, raw emotion. It will not be an easy read.
But lest we are tempted to disregard it, pay attention to the preface: Again the word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations, and say, Thus says the Lord GOD to Jerusalem…” If at other time we allow The Word of the LORD to inform our understanding of God’s character, then Ezekiel chapter 16 deserves to be included.
Our verse for this week is 2 Peter 3:9: The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
Ezekiel 16 through 20. Now let’s read it!
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.