November - Reading 6

Discussion in 'Bible Reading Plan 2016' started by Clint Kritzer, Nov 6, 2002.

  1. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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  2. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Good evening -

    While there is much on which one could focus in the reading of Ezekiel today, I think that perhaps the most significant passage of our reading was chapter 18. The "sins of the father" concept was embraced strongly by the Israelites and they based it upon passages such as Exodus 20:5 and 34:7. We, as modern believers, look at this passage and think how misinformed the Israelite people were.
    Are we, however, any different? We still pass blame at any opportunity. Modern psychology has given us the ultimate "out." It is an innate characteristic of humans to try to pass the blame onto someone else. We even see it in the story of the Fall of man. Jeremiah addressed this same issue in Jeremiah 31:29. If we had that little control over our own personal natures, we woulfd be no better off than the animals. Chapter 18 concludes with the central message of Ezekiel and the Gospel as a whole: Repent and Live!

    In our reading of John Christ is very directly confronting the Jews who "believed Him." This phrase is quite interesting in context to the passaage that follows. These must have been thos who had made a formal proffession but did not accept His message. The Jamieson - Fausset - Brown commentary offers this:
    In 2Peter, the author points out and corrects two incorrect thoughts by the doubters of that time. (1) God has intervened since the beginning of creation as is demonstrated by the flood. (2) The seeming delay in Christ's return is a human measurement of time. God stands outside of time and will return on His schedule, not our's.

    May God bless you

    - Clint
     
  3. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Sunday School lesson 2/26/05

    Ezekiel 18

    Ezekiel 18 presents for the student a challenge and a necessity for Biblical interpretation and understanding. We have seen through the prophets that man was involved in the composition of the Scriptures in an intimate way. God did not dictate words to men but rather He inspired them to write the message necessary (2Peter 1:19-21). We begin to see in the prophets an evolution of theological thought that builds upon and reinterprets the Law written so many centuries before. This evolution terminates in the teachings of Christ Who did not nullify the Law but took it back to its original intent.

    The Israelites had been repeatedly reminded that the Sinaitic Covenant was the key to their ultimate success or failure. Obedience to God would bring reward. Disobedience would bring punishment. After many, many years of disobedience, God’s judgment was meted out in Ezekiel’s day by the exile of his nation. His generation now looked upon their situation as the result of the sin of their forefathers, an interpretation of events based partially on Passages of the Law as early as Exodus 34:7 and carried through to their present in Lamentations 5:7. The ancient Hebrews viewed sin as a corporate act that accumulated and affected the nation as a whole. With such a view they had developed a popular proverb: The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge. The Hebrew of Ezekiel’s day wished to pass the blame. They felt that they were suffering through no fault of their own. In their spiritual darkness they were calling the judgment of a just God into question.

    Ezekiel 18 is an answer, inspired by God and spoken by a man, to this attitude towards sin. While the Torah was sufficient instruction for the early Israelites, God would now use Ezekiel to further His instructions to them and to us about the nature of salvation. This Passage is nothing short of revolutionary in theological thought for the ancient Jews. Sin would now be moved from a corporate act involving family, acquaintances, and those within one’s proximity to an individual act for which one bore personal responsibility. For the modern Christian, we almost take this fact for granted. For Ezekiel’s audience, this was a new way of approaching life’s consequences brought on by sin.

    Even for the revolutionary nature and inspiration of this Passage, the lesson will not be completed until Christ comes. Ezekiel approaches the solution to the quandary with a legalistic Judaism that will be modified by Jesus. We will study today a list of moral statutes that the prophet interprets as a means to salvation, not a reflection of it. Nonetheless, these words spoken six centuries before the coming of Christ do indeed stand as a light in the darkness and a benchmark towards man’s ultimate understanding of the nature of his Creator.

    Ezekiel 18:1-4 Retribution for Sin Falls upon the Sinner

    To begin his argument, the prophet clearly sets forth the premise on which the concept of individual sin is based. Opposing the traditional view of the sins of the fathers being visited upon the children, he states, “All souls are mine (referring to God)” and, “the soul that sins shall die.” In Old Testament thought, the “soul” does not refer to some nebulous facet of man. In the Old Testament, man is a soul and we should best define soul as “person.” Also, “death” in this instance does not refer to spiritual death as the New Testament writers imply but to actual physical death, based on the belief that sin shortened one’s life.

    Since all souls (persons) are the possession of God, His judgment upon each soul is what carries finality. The soul, unique individual, who sins will die. He will not die for another’s sins but for his own. Thus God declares that there can be no transferal of guilt or righteousness.

    Now as a method for setting forth this new idea Ezekiel uses an illustration of three generations in a single family. The first generation is a righteous man, the second a wicked man, and the third a righteous man.

    Ezekiel 18:5-9 The First Generation

    In Ezekiel’s view, the righteous man is defined as one who keeps the statutes of the Law. To keep the Law and observe it is to be righteous. Once again, the modern Christian will remember that the Law never saved anyone. Else there would have been no need for Christ (Galatians 2:16). Nonetheless, the righteous man, one whose life reflects his salvation through the keeping of a solid moral code, will live. Many of these statutes were affirmed by Christ such as fidelity to God, refraining from sexual immorality and adultery, the feeding and clothing of the needy, and honest business dealings. Ezekiel’s point is well made. Righteousness is not displayed through a half-hearted observance of God’s commandments but through a full commitment.

    Ezekiel 18:10-13 The Second Generation

    Next, the prophet presents the hypothetical figure of the righteous man’s son. This son does not keep the statutes of the Law and is therefore not righteous. The question arises, “Can the righteousness of the father be imputed to such a man?”

    The son is guilty of all of the offenses from which the father abstained. He is, in fact, as wicked as the father is righteous. He is a robber, not just a thief but one who takes illegal gain through the use of violence. He oppresses the poor and needy. He is an idolater and a profiteer. The answer to the question of whether he will inherit the father’s righteousness is a resounding, “No!” He will die. They key to his fate, however, is in the wording, “his blood will be upon himself.” He must pay the penalty for the life course he chose. His life condition was not created by his father but by himself.

    Ezekiel 18:14-20 The Third Generation

    Ezekiel presents us with the third hypothetical character: the son of the wicked man, the grandson of the righteous man. He now enters the crux of his argument. By Hebrew thought, this man should be punished for the sins of his father. Perhaps this fellow found his father’s life course distasteful and he found a better example in his grandfather. He therefore observes the Law and keeps the statutes set forth in it. Through his keeping of the Law he avoids sin and thus he lives (again, not eternal life as in New Testament thought but longevity).

    Ezekiel has worked out the concept of individual responsibility through legalistic lines. The third generation son will live because he observes the Law. The second generation son will die because he does not. Each of the three generations will be judged according to his own actions.

    It should be noted that there is no universality in Ezekiel’s message. Salvation as presented here is through the Law and thus for Israel alone.

    Ezekiel 18:21-32 The Principle of Individual Redemption

    Now the principle of non-negotiability is taken from whole generations and applied to the span of an individual’s life. There may be periods of righteousness and wickedness within any person’s (soul’s) life. How will God judge such an individual? The logic of the previous verses is applied to this situation as well.

    Ezekiel contends that the wicked man who repents and embraces righteousness will have none of his previous transgressions remembered. Likewise, should a righteous man fall away and turn wicked none of his righteous deeds will be remembered. The reason for the righteous acts having no effect is because the man who turns to wickedness is guilty of treachery.

    There is complete justice in the position taken. The individual is judged according to his inherent position. For Ezekiel, true religion equates morality. This morality is displayed in a moral code encompassed by the Law. Keeping its ordinances displays righteousness and departure from these ordinances equates treachery. Following the Law provided the basis for an intimate relationship with God.

    Also, the new heart and the new spirit that provided the foundation for that relationship come after repentance and a return to the Law. Even so, Ezekiel subsequently delivers another surprising revelation: It requires both God’s Grace and man’s earnest endeavors to effect the lasting condition of the renewed covenant. We may feel that in verse 31 Ezekiel was making an unreasonable demand on his audience. Certainly we know that man does not have the power to save himself, to completely repent and lead a moral life on his own. Perhaps Ezekiel’s implication is that man must face himself and acknowledge that he lacks the capacity to affect this change on his own before he can truly repent. The key to repentance is that humility one attains when one finds that is only through God that he can attain a new heart and a new spirit (Luke 18:13-14).

    God has no desire to see anyone punished. Therefore the call to repentance is made. The judgment that the Jews of Ezekiel’s time suffered had come because of rebellion against the Law. Only a return to the Law could save their lives.
     
  4. Clint Kritzer

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    Job

    Sunday School 6/11/06 (con't)

    Job 6:1-7 Job’s Reply to Eliphaz

    Job begins his response to Eliphaz by reminding him of the severity of his problems. The calamities involving his health, belongings and children coupled with the mourning they produced weigh heavily on him. Yes, he spoke rashly in his lament, but he had good reason to do so. He describes his distress as being heavier than all the sand in the sea. Job contends that the cries of animals have cause and so, too, do his. It is unclear in verse 7 as to whether the metaphorical food he refuses to touch is what God has put before him or Eliphaz’s arguments. In either case, the man’s suffering has not been aided by his friend’s theological diatribe.
     
  5. Clint Kritzer

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