God will judge us on our own deeds, not on those of our parents.

Saturday, 8/18/12

The reading from Ezekiel lets us know that some things in the Old Testament were there without God intending it.

In the list of the Ten Commandments in Chapter Twenty of Exodus the First Commandment states, “I am the Lord your God. You shall not have other gods besides me.”

That much is fine, but the text goes on to describe the punishment attached to breaking the commandment. “I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their fathers’ wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation; but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

The people had a saying to express the idea of children and grandchildren suffering for the sins of their parents. They would say, “Fathers have eaten sour grapes, thus the children’s teeth are set on edge.” The meaning of that saying is very clear if you have ever tried eating sour grapes. It makes your upper and lowers dance against each other.

Ezekiel, speaking for God, says get rid of that saying and of the idea it stands for. God says each of us will be punished or rewarded only for our own deeds, no matter how bad or good our parents were. 

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