September 1 (Daily reading: Ezekiel 18-20) Ezekiel 18 presents a new way of thinking for God’s people. The old way was portrayed in a proverb: “The fathers eat the sour grapes, but the children’s teeth are set on edge” (18:2). This was based on Exodus 20:5, where it is stated that punishment for the sins of the fathers would be “on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me.” This new principle of individual responsibility is described: “Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die” (18:4). It is a characteristic of the promised covenant from Ezekiel 16: “I will establish an everlasting covenant with you … and you shall know that I am the LORD” (vv. 60, 62). This is in harmony with Jeremiah 31:29-31, where the covenant is presented as “a new covenant.” God spoke clearly: “Everyone will die for his own iniquity; each man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth will be set on edge” (Jer. 31:30).
The relationship of the new covenant as set forth in Jeremiah 31:33 is repeated by Ezekiel: “My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people” (Ezek. 37:27). We must teach our children this principle of individual responsibility. The faith of the fathers is not sufficient for the children. Each generation must come to Christ, who is “the mediator of a new covenant” (Heb. 8:15). He shed His own blood to establish this new covenant, and the result is seen in God’s promise: “I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jer. 31:34; Heb. 10:17). We see God’s heart of grace: “‘For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,’ declares the Lord GOD. ‘Therefore, repent and live’” (18:32).
– Al Gary