Today, I am reading and commenting on Ezekiel 17-19.
Once more Ezekiel uses a metaphor to communicate his message. The message here is pretty obvious and much the same as the one which Jeremiah gave for the same situation. King Zedekiah was put on the throne of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar, who demanded, and received, an oath of fealty from Zedekiah. Later, Zedekiah turned to the Pharaoh of Egypt for support in breaking that oath of fealty. Both Jeremiah and Ezekiel condemned him for this and warned him that it would lead to the destruction of Jerusalem. In this passage, Ezekiel laws some of the blame for Zedekiah’s faithlessness at the feet of the people of Jerusalem. As I read the biblical record, Zedekiah was under significant political pressure to obtain independence from Babylon. Zedekiah and the people of Jerusalem made the mistake of putting their faith in the Pharaoh, who was merely human, while themselves being faithless.
Chapter 18 contains a message from God which is at the heart of understanding God’s will for us all. Ezekiel begins the chapter by challenging the belief that children are destined to suffer because of their parents’ failures and sins. We have tendency to hold people accountable for the actions of their parents and their grandparents, sometimes even of the people they live among. And there is a reason why we do this. Someone who was abused as a child is more likely to abuse their own children. Someone whose parent (father or mother) abused alcohol or drugs is more likely to do the same. The same is true of many other sins and behaviors, both good and bad. However, God declares that it does not have to be this way. We can choose to turn from the sins we learned from our parents and to live righteously. If we do, God will not punish us because our parents were sinners. God will judge each and every one of us according to our actions. The same is true of those who had good parents. If they do not follow in their parents’ footsteps of living righteously, they will suffer for their wickedness. It is God’s wish that each and every person live righteously. He takes no pleasure in the suffering we bring upon ourselves.