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Ezekiel;- The righteous live and the unrighteous die

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posted on Mar, 16 2018 @ 06:02 PM
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Ezekiel is the prophet of the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians.
In the first chapters of the book, his main purpose was to impress upon his people the fact that the siege and exile would be coming, and the city would be destroyed.
Another part of his function is to explain God’s reasons for what is happening, and to show them that God is not working capriciously. He is acting in the interests of righteousness.

“What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel; ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’?
As I live, says the Lord God, this proverb shall no longer be used by you in Israel”- Ezekiel ch18 vv2-3

On the day when the Lord allowed Moses an oblique view of himself, he was proclaiming himself as “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children’s children”.
At first glance, it might appear that Ezekiel’s declaration is correcting the words heard by Moses. However, there is no real conflict between the two statements.
The meaning of the original proclamation is that the children will be punished as well as the fathers. If the fathers experience devastation, or if they are sent into exile, the later generations will still be feeling the effects of these events.
Whereas the proverb cited above (and quoted also in Jeremiah ch31 v29) claims that the children are punished instead of the fathers.
It’s expressing a popular fatalism, the conviction of “there’s no justice”.
It may be the grievance of a current generation who think themselves better than their ancestors, and believe themselves to be suffering for the faults of their ancestors.

But the proverb is mistaken.
For future reference, all souls belong to God individually, and he will (also) punish them individually.
Whether father or son, “the souls that sins will die”.

The point is then spelled out in more detail.
Righteousness is defined by behaviour in line with God’s will. The righteous man will refrain from idolatry. He will refrain from pollution of marriage; he “does not defile his neighbour’s wife or approach a woman in her time of impurity”. He refrains from robbery and acting oppressively, lends without demanding interest and restores the pledge to a debtor, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment.
The unrighteous man does the exact opposite, in every way.

If a man is righteous, and does what is lawful and right, then he will live.
If he has a son, on the other hand, who does abominable things, then the son “shall surely die, his blood will be on himself” (vv5-13).
Conversely, if the son of that son “sees all the sins which his father has done, and fears, and does not do likewise… he shall surely live” (vv14-18).
“The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son;
The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself”.

Both verdicts are subject to amendment, if the man alters his behaviour.
If the righteous man gives up his righteousness and joins the wicked man in doing abominable things, then he shall die as a wicked man. None of his former righteous deeds will be remembered.
On the other hand, if the wicked man turns away from all the sins which he has been committing, and does what is lawful and right, then he will live. None of his former transgressions will be remembered.
This is the outcome which the Lord God himself would prefer;
“Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked… and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?”
That is the real reason for his extended patience before he takes action.

How, then, can the house of Israel say “The way of the Lord is not just?”
The wicked man or the man who turns to wickedness will die, and the righteous man or the man who turns to righteousness will live. What could be fairer than that?

Now obviously this question invites the kind of answer made by Job. He would have pointed out, quickly enough, that in practice it is not self-evident that righteous men live longer than unrighteous men.

And since everybody dies in the end, the statement that “the righteous shall live” could only have been true in a relative sense, in any case.
That is, if we are talking about ordinary physical life.
In order to be fulfilled, the promise that “the righteous shall live” really does require some sense in which the righteous do not die at all.
So this kind of promise foreshadows, by implication, more explicit statements of the possibility of eternal life, which would meet the expectations of the righteous.

The moral on which Ezekiel closes the chapter is a plea to the people to turn away from their transgressions, to “get yourself a new heart and a new spirit”.
Why must they insist on throwing themselves forward into death?
“I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord God; so turn and live”.

It is very easy for the modern reader, scanning this passage printed among the books of the Old Testament, to miss half the significance of what Ezekiel is saying.
The most important point about this explanation is the timing.
It comes at a moment when Jerusalem and the kingdom based upon Jerusalem are about to be destroyed, as Ezekiel has been proclaiming in all the previous chapters.
On the face of it, this appears to mean the end of the relationship between the people of the land and their God.
Yet here we see an careful explanation of how their God intends to conduct himself towards them in the future, rewarding their righteousness and dealing with their transgressions.
In other words, it is taken for granted that there will be a future.

Even as the prophecy of judgement reaches its climax, we see the first signs of the prophecy of restoration.







edit on 16-3-2018 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)




posted on Mar, 16 2018 @ 06:03 PM
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To forestall one possible line of argument, I will observe that Jesus gives exactly the same teaching.
E.g. “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke ch13 v5).
That is, the repentant shall live, and the unrepentant shall die.
The good news of the gospel is not about “the abolition of judgement”, but about our chances of being judged as righteous when the judgement comes.



posted on Mar, 16 2018 @ 06:42 PM
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posted on Mar, 16 2018 @ 07:00 PM
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But what about "only the good die young"?

That contradicts your theory.

I say good day sir! Good day.



posted on Mar, 16 2018 @ 07:10 PM
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a reply to: Jefferton
In the first place, "the good die young" is not a Biblical statement, so it doesn't have theological authority.
It seems to go back to Wordsworth;
"The good die first
And those whose hearts are dry as summer dust
Burn to the socket"- The Excursion. (Thank you, Everyman's Dictionary of Quotations and Proverbs)

In the second place, I tackled this question near the end of the OP;

Now obviously this question invites the kind of answer made by Job. He would have pointed out, quickly enough, that in practice it is not self-evident that righteous men live longer than unrighteous men.

And since everybody dies in the end, the statement that “the righteous shall live” could only have been true in a relative sense, in any case.
That is, if we are talking about ordinary physical life.
In order to be fulfilled, the promise that “the righteous shall live” really does require some sense in which the righteous do not die at all.
So this kind of promise foreshadows, by implication, more explicit statements of the possibility of eternal life, which would meet the expectations of the righteous.



posted on Mar, 17 2018 @ 01:34 AM
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Interesting how the OT teaches a Jew not to follow their heart but in Christ we are as Christians taught to follow our hearts

In Christ we Christians are supposed to have a new heart and a new spirit, I wonder how many "Christians" do have a new heart and spirit?
Live the fruit of the Spirit?



posted on Mar, 17 2018 @ 12:50 PM
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a reply to: Raggedyman
It may be a question of different idioms in language.
The N.T. has "believe in your heart", but you will know that "you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart" is a quotation from Deuteronomy.
The OT has statements like "Set your heart and soul to seek the Lord" (1 Chronicles ch22 v19), and the complaints in the prophets that the people have "hearts of stone".
Biblically speaking, the heart is the place where one makes decisions.



posted on Mar, 18 2018 @ 03:03 PM
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This thread is one of the sequels to
Seeing visions of God




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