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Ezekiel 17-18, Psalm 56

When Jesus told his disciples that a blind man was born without sight not because of this man’s sins or the sins of his parents, this challenged the disciples understanding of generational sin and punishment (see John 9:1-3). Hundreds of years before Jesus, God taught Ezekiel a similar truth. Ezekiel 18, in repetitious fashion makes clear that a person is ultimately accountable for their sins, and their sins alone. This does not diminish God’s promise to visit the sins of parents upon their children (see Deuteronomy 5:8-10). What it does is clarify that the way a parent’s sins are visited upon their children is through passing on sin patterns and the general repercussions of evil. If a parent is ruthless with their children, chances are, apart from God’s grace, that child will be harsh. If a mother is profligate with money, her child will be destitute. Both the consequences of sins and the patterns of sin can be handed down from one generation to the next. That doesn’t mean I am responsible for my grandfather’s adulterous ways. As Ezekiel 18 ends be declaring God’s justice, we see yet again that God’s justice is nuanced. God’s ways are not easily explained in 140 or 280 characters (the length of tweets for those unfamiliar with social media). For teaching purposes it is always good to simplify truth, but that doesn’t mean all truths are always so simple.

Jeremiah Vaught