Thought from Today's Old Testament Passage:
[Ezekiel 18:1-4] God asked Ezekiel about a proverb being circulated. This proverb—The fathers eat sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge—must have been well known in Israel because Jeremiah also quoted it (cf. Jer. 31:29-30). The proverb's point was that children were suffering because of their parents' sins. True, Jerusalem was suffering, but as stated in the proverb the people thought they were suffering not because of their sins but because of their parents' sins. So these people were blaming God for punishing them unjustly (cf. 18:25).
God saw that this false proverb had to be refuted. Yet, as with all false doctrines, a kernel of truth in the teaching made it seem plausible. In the Ten Commandments God indicated that He was "a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me" (Ex. 20:5; cf. Ex. 34:6-7; Deut. 5:9; Ezek. 16:15-29)…. But the point of these passages was that the effects of sin are serious and long-lasting, not that God capriciously punishes the innocent for their ancestors' evil ways.
Blaming others for their misfortunes, the people were denying their own guilt. This was wrong, because every individual is personally responsible to God…. Those who are guilty will receive their own deserved punishment…. The people of Israel could not rightly charge God with injustice.
John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck, eds., The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), p. 1260.
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