Ezekiel 18:1–18 (NKJV)

18:1 The word of the Lord came to me again, saying, “What do you mean when you use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying:

‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes,

And the children’s teeth are set on edge’?

“As I live,” says the Lord God, “you shall no longer use this proverb in Israel.

4 “Behold, all souls are Mine;

The soul of the father

As well as the soul of the son is Mine;

The soul who sins shall die.

5 But if a man is just

And does what is lawful and right;

6 If he has not eaten on the mountains,

Nor lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel,

Nor defiled his neighbor’s wife,

Nor approached a woman during her impurity;

7 If he has not oppressed anyone,

But has restored to the debtor his pledge;

Has robbed no one by violence,

But has given his bread to the hungry

And covered the naked with clothing;

8 If he has not exacted usury

Nor taken any increase,

But has withdrawn his hand from iniquity

And executed true judgment between man and man;

9 If he has walked in My statutes—

And kept My judgments faithfully—

He is just;

He shall surely live!”

Says the Lord God.

The Lord here lists the things a man can avoid and be a just man.  Many of them are outlined in the law of Israel, and others are matters of justice and mercy.  But to avoid these brings life to a man and his family and his nation.

10 “If he begets a son who is a robber

Or a shedder of blood,

Who does any of these things

11 And does none of those duties,

But has eaten on the mountains

Or defiled his neighbor’s wife;

12 If he has oppressed the poor and needy,

Robbed by violence,

Not restored the pledge,

Lifted his eyes to the idols,

Or committed abomination;

13 If he has exacted usury

Or taken increase—

Shall he then live?

He shall not live!

If he has done any of these abominations,

He shall surely die;

His blood shall be upon him.

The opposite situation, though, brings the opposite result.  If a man commits these sins, then he will be responsible for his sins and he will surely die.  His blood will be upon his own hands!

14 “If, however, he begets a son

Who sees all the sins which his father has done,

And considers but does not do likewise;

15 Who has not eaten on the mountains,

Nor lifted his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel,

Nor defiled his neighbor’s wife;

16 Has not oppressed anyone,

Nor withheld a pledge,

Nor robbed by violence,

But has given his bread to the hungry

And covered the naked with clothing;

17 Who has withdrawn his hand from the poor

And not received usury or increase,

But has executed My judgments

And walked in My statutes

He shall not die for the iniquity of his father;

He shall surely live!

The concept of generational curses is in play in this passage.  Many times a child takes up the bad habits of his father.  In verse 2, the sour grapes reference seems to allude to the sins of the father being visited on the children as well.  However, here the Lord says that if a son lives righteously, in spite of his father’s sins, he will live and not be judged for his father’s evil.  

18 “As for his father,

Because he cruelly oppressed,

Robbed his brother by violence,

And did what is not good among his people,

Behold, he shall die for his iniquity.

The father, though, will still reap the whirlwind of his sin, and die for his own iniquity.  This passage gives hope to the child of the sinful.  Even though Dad and/or Mom live in iniquity, a son or daughter can rise above their upbringing and their heritage to be a man or woman of God.  If someone has told you that you will never amount to anything because of your family of origin’s lifestyle and habits, you need to know that you are not bound to that evil lifestyle.  God has the power to overcome genetics and environment.  He can overcome your proclivities and your examples.  God can make you holy, no matter how profane or unholy your family background.  Break the chains of your sinful heritage and live holy and LIVE!

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