In Ezekiel 18:1-4, God was dealing with a mistaken notion that the exile from Judah in Babylon had. They were probably reacting to the messages of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Hence, there was a slur being spread among them. It was essentially a complaint. The smear found in Ezekiel 18:1 says, “The fathers eat the sour grapes, But the children’s teeth are set on edge.” This slight implied that God was unjust. They were insinuating that God was punishing them for the sins of the previous generation.
God was appalled by such absurd thinking and then set out to show them the truth. Where did they get this idea? How could they think that God would punish them for the sins of the previous generation? Undeniably, their fathers had sinned, but they themselves were not without guilt. They too had their fair share of waywardness and sins.
Hence in verses 2-4, God asserted that everything they experienced would reveal the truth. His judgment would prove His fairness. After they had gone through their punishment, this slur would be fully refuted. It would prove God’s justice once and for all and this foolish saying could not be used as an excuse to justify their failure anymore.
Isn’t it true that when one’s sin is exposed, that person would seek to find ways to excuse his or her sin? We all have blind spots when it comes to our flaws. When we are experiencing a bad patch, one common predictable reaction would be “I don’t know what I did wrong to warrant this?” This reaction unwittingly implies that it is unfair for “me” to have such an experience. Such a reaction is inevitably an indication of self-denial because of a lack of self-reflection. It is good for us to pray this prayer at the end of each day:
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.
If we are to progress in our spiritual walk, there is a need for us to set aside time daily to do a personal examen. At the end of each day, our continual walk with God can be greatly enhanced by asking ourselves these three questions:
1. Is the Lord well pleased?
2. Is His words well-used?
3. Is my life well-lived?
Monday – Psalm 14:2
The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men
To see if there are any who understand,
Who seek after God.
Tuesday – 2 Chronicles 16:9a
For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.
Wednesday – 1 Corinthians 2:10
For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.
Thursday – Psalm 11:4
The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.
Friday – 1 Chronicles 28:9
As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.
Saturday – Psalm 34:15
The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous And His ears are open to their cry.
Sunday – Proverbs 5:21
For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord, And He watches all his paths.
All Scriptures are quoted from the New American Standard Bible 1995.
By Pastor Clarence Goh