These four chapters deal with a theme that many of us are not very comfortable talking about. The theme is responsibility. Here’s some background that might help you understand the phrase from the beginning of chapter 18 “The fathers eat sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”
Basically, God is asking why the people of Israel in exile in Babylon were blaming their ancestors for their current predicament. That is what the proverb was spoken to mean. In response to that thought, God uses Ezekiel to explain to the people that God judges each person for their own sin and not for someone else’s. That is chapter 18 in a nutshell.
Chapter 19 talks about the foolish decisions of the Jewish leaders and that they were responsible for their own foolishness.
Chapter 20 points out the long history of irresponsibility of the nation itself.
Chapter 21 is where Ezekiel reminds the people that the Lord Jehovah had a responsibility to be faithful to Himself and His covenant with the Jews, and this was why He had chastened them (paraphrasing Warren Wiersbe here).
The people failed to recognize that the privilege of being God’s chosen people comes with a deep responsibility.
Here is what Warren Wiersbe has to say: “They had the greatest law ever given to a nation, bu they disobeyed it. The Lord gave them a wonderful land for their home, but they defiled it with idolatry. They violated the terms of the divine covenant and then were shocked when the Lord obeyed the covenant and chastened them.”
So many in our day and age want to shift responsibility away from themselves and onto the shoulders of someone or something else. God, fate, fortune, luck, a neighbour, they all become the burden bearers for our responsibility. If you think that I’m off my rocker here are three examples of what I mean. First, when was the last time you heard of a student failing a grade? In fact, if you talk to teachers you will learn that it is pretty much impossible to fail a student. They are not taught to be responsible for their learning. Second take a look at the employment situation in our day and age. It is nearly impossible to fire someone from a job. They can be a poor worker, disrespectful to leadership, lazy, foul-mouthed and there is almost nothing an employer can do about it. Or how about the inability of property owners to evict renters, even after the renters have caused damage or failed to pay their rent.
Responsibility is not harmful, it makes us mature, it makes us wise, it makes us grow into better people with better character.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Ezekiel 22-23