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Bible Commentaries

Morgan's Exposition on the Whole Bible

Ezekiel 18

Verses 1-32

The next prophecy was directed against the false attitude of mind obtaining among the exiled people, which had expressed itself in a proverb, "The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge." By the use of this proverb they intended to lay the blame of their present suffering on their fathers. While recognizing all the evil which had befallen them as the result of sin, they maintained the attitude of injured innocence, declaring, in effect, that they were bearing the punishment of sins which they had not committed. This the prophet denied, first by setting forth illustrative principles which may thus be summarized. All souls have direct dealings with God, seeing that they are His. The righteous man lives. The wicked son of a righteous man dies. The righteous son of a wicked man lives. In unequivocal terms the prophet then deliberately declared that the son does not bear the iniquity of the father, nor the father that of the son. In this first line of argument in rebutting the false proverb, the prophet laid all his emphasis on personal responsibility. The argument is at once a revelation of the strict justice of God in dealing with men, and of man's opportunity and obligation of immediate dealing with God.

The prophet then proceeded to show how gracious this opportunity is. If the wicked man turns from wickedness to righteousness, his sins are to be forgiven and he is to live, because Jehovah has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. On the other hand, if the righteous man turn from his righteousness to sin, his past righteousness is of no avail and he is to die. Israel declared that the way of Jehovah was not equal. To this Ezekiel replied that the ways of Israel were unequal, and that what appeared to be unequal in the judgment of God was the result of the inequality of their attitude toward Him.

The prophet then appealed to the house of Israel to turn from transgression, and declared again that Jehovah had "no pleasure in the death of him that dieth." The responsibility and opportunity of a sinning people is set forth in the appeal to make for themselves a new heart and a new spirit, and in the declaration that by turning they would live.

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Bibliographical Information
Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on Ezekiel 18". "Morgan's Exposition on the Bible". 1857-84.