Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel the priest when the word of the LORD came to him while he was sitting among the captives in the land of the Chaldeans. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters seventeen through twenty of this Old Testament book. BEHOLD ALL SOULS ARE MINE! AS THE SOUL OF THE FATHER, SO ALSO THE SOUL OF THE SON IS MINE! THE SOUL THAT SINNETH, IT SHALL DIE! BUT IF A MAN BE JUST, AND DO THAT WHICH IS LAWFUFL AND RIGHT, AND HATH NOT EATEN UPON THE MOUNTAINS, NEITHER HATH LIFTED UP HIS EYES TO THE I TO THE IDOLS OF THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL, NEITHER HATH DEFILED HIS NEIGHBOUR’S WIFE, NEITHER HATH COME NEAR TO A MENSTROUS WOMAN, AND HATH NOT OPPRESSED ANY, BUT HATH RESTORED TO THE DEBTOR HIS PLEDGE, HATH SPOILED NONE BY VIOLENCE, HATH GIVEN HIS BREAD TO THE HUNGRY, AND HATH COVERED THE NAKED WITH A GARMENT; HE THAT HATH NOT GIVEN FORTH UPON USURY, NEITHER HATH TAKEN ANY INCREASE, THAT HATH WITHDRAWN HIS HAND FROM INIQUITY, HATH EXECUTED TRUE JUDGMENT BETWEEN MAN AND MAN, HATH WALKED IN MY STATUTES, AND HATH KEPT MY JUDGMENTS, TO DEAL TRULY; HE IS JUST, HE SHALL SURELY LIVE!
IF HE BEGET A SON THAT IS A ROBBER, A SHEDDER OF BLOOD, AND THAT DOETH THE LIKE TO ANY ONE OF THESE THINGS, AND THAT DOETH NOT ANY OF THOSE DUTIES, BUT EVEN HATH EATEN UPON THE MOUNTAINS, AND DEFILED HIS NEIGHBOUR’S WIFE, HATH OPPRESSED THE POOR AND NEEDY, HATH SPOILED BY VIOLENCE, HATH NOT RESTORED THE PLEDGE, AND HATH LIFTED UP HIS EYES TO THE IDOLS, HATH COMMITTED ABOMINATION, HATH GIVEN FORTH UPON USURY, AND HATH TAKEN INCREASE: SHALL HE THEN LIFE? HE SHALL NOT LIFE! HE HATH DONE ALL THESE ABOMINATIONS; HE SHALL SURELY DIE; HIS BLOOD SHALL BE UPON HIM!
NOW, LO, IF HE BEGET A SON, THAT SEETH ALL HIS FATHER’S SINS WHICH HE HATH DONE, AND CONSIDERETH, AND DOETH NOT SUCH LIKE, THAT HATH NOT EATEN UPON THE MOUNTAINS, NEITHER HATH LIFTED UP HIS EYES TO THE IDOLS OF THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL, HATH NOT DEFILED HIS NEIGHBOUR’S WIFE, NEITHER HATH OPPRESSED ANY, HATH NOT WITHHOLDEN THE PLEDGE, NEITHER HATH SPOILED BY VIOLENCE, BUT HATH GIVEN HIS BREAD TO THE HUNGRY, AND HATH COVERED THE NAKED WITH A GARMENT, THAT HATH TAKEN OFF HIS HAND FROM THE POOR, THAT HATH NOT RECEIVED USURUY NOR INCREASE, HATH EXECUTED MY JUDGMENTS, HATH WALKED IN MY STATUTES; HE SHALL NOT DIE FOR THE I NIQUITY OF HIS FATHER, HE SHALL SURELY LIFE! AS FOR HIS FATHER, BECAUSE HE CRUELLY OPPRESSED, SPOILED HIS BROTHER BY VIOLENCE, AND DID THAT WHICH IS NOT GOOD AMONG HIS PEOPLE, LO, EVEN HE SHALL DIE IN HIS INIQUITY!
YET SAY YE, WHY? DOTH NOT THE SON BEAR THE INIQUITY OF THE FATHER? WHEN THE SON HATH DONE THAT WHICH IS LAWFUL AND RIGHT, AND HATH KEPT ALL MY STATUTES, AND HATH DONE THEM, HE SHALL SURELY LIVE! THE SOUL THAT SINNETH, IT SHALL DIE! THE SON SHALL NOT BEAR THE INIQUITY OF THE FATHER, NEITHER SHALL THE FATHER BEAR THE INIQUITY OF THE SON! THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE RIGHTEOUS SHALL BE UPON HIM, AND THE WICKEDNESS OF THE WICKED SHALL BE UPON HIM!
IF THE WICKED WILL TURN FROM ALL HIS SINS THAT HE HATH COMMITTED, AND KEEP ALL MY STATUTES, AND DO THAT WHICH IS LAWFUL AND RIGHT, HE SHALL SURELY LIVE, HE SHALL NOT DIE! ALL HIS TRANSGRESSIONS THAT HE HATH COMMITTED, THEY SHALL NOT BE MENTIONED UNTO HIM! IN HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT HE HATH DONE HE SHALL LIVE! HAVE I ANY PLEASURE AT ALL THAT THE WICKED SHOULD DIE? AND NOT THAT HE SHOULD RETURN FROM HIS WAYS AND LIVE?
BUT WHEN THE RIGHTEOUS TURNETH AWAY FROM HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, AND COMMITTETH INIQUITY, AND DOETH ACCORDING TO ALL THE ABOMINATIONS THAT THE WICKED MAN DOETH, SHALL HE LIVE? ALL HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT HE HATH DONE SHALL NOT BE MENTIONED! IN HIS TESPASS THAT HE HATH TRESPASSED, AND IN HIS SIN THAT HE HATH SINNED, IN THEM SHALL HE DIE! WHEN A RIGHTEOUS MAN TURNETH AWAY FROM HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, AND COMMITTETH INIQUITY, AND DIETH IN THEM; FOR HIS INIQUITY THAT HE HATH DONE SHALL HE DIE! AGAIN, WHEN THE WICKED MAN TURNETH AWAY FROM HIS WICKEDNESS THAT HE HATH COMMITTED, AND DOETH THAT WHICH IS LAWFUL AND RIGHT, HE SHALL SAVE HIS SOUL ALIVE! BECAUSE HE CONSIDERETH, AND TURNETH AWAY FROM ALL HIS TRANSGRESSIONS THAT HE HATH COMMITTED, HE SHALL SURELY LIVE, HE SHALL NOT DIE!
YET YE SAY, THE WAY OF THE LORD IS NOT EQUAL! IS NOT MY WAY EQUAL? ARE NOT YOUR WAYS UNEQUAL? YET SAITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL, THE WAY OF THE LORD IS NOT EQUAL! O HOUSE OF ISRAEL, ARE NOT MY WAYS EQUAL? ARE NOT YOUR WAYS UNEQUAL?
THEREFORE I WILL JUDGE YOU, O HOUSE OF ISRAEL, EVERY ONE ACCORDING TO HIS WAYS, SAITH THE LORD GOD!
REPENT, AND TURN YOURSELVES FROM ALL YOUR TRANSGRESSIONS; SO INIQUITY SHALL NOT BE YOUR RUIN! CAST AWAY FROM YOU ALL YOUR TRANSGRESSIONS, WHEREBY YE HAVE TRANSGRESSED; AND MAKE YOU A NEW HEART AND A NEW SPIRIT! WHY WILL YE DIE, O. HOUSE OF ISRAEL! I HAVE NO PLEASURE IN THE DEATH OF HIM THAT DIETH, SAITH THE LORD GOD! TURN YOURSELVES AND LIVE!
THE NARRATIVE OF THE KINGS OF JUDAH! WHEN RIGHTEOUS KINGS BEGET WICKED KINGS! WHEN RIGHTEOUS MEN BEGET UNRIGHTEOUS SONS! WHEN WICKED KINGS BEGET RIGHTEOUS KINGS! WHEN WICKED MEN BEGET RIGHTEOUS SONS! WHEN RIGHTEOUS FATHERS BEGET WICKED SONS! WHEN WICKED FATHER BEGET RIGHTEOUS SONS! [THE EXAMPLE OF MANASSEH]
ARE YOU COME TO INQUIRE OF ME? AS I LIVE, SAITH THE L ORD GOD, I WILL NOT BE INQUIRED OF BY YOU! WILT THOU. JUDGE THEM, SON OF MAN, WILT THOU JUDGE THEM? CAUSE THEM TO KNOW THE ABOMINATIONS OF THEIR FATHERS! IN THE DAY WHEN I CHOSE ISRAEL, AND LIFTED UP MINE HAND UNTO THE SEED OF THE HOUSE OF JACOB, AND MADE MYSELF KNOWN UNTO THEM IN THE LAND OF EGYPT, WHEN I LIFTED UP MINE HAND UNTO THEM, SAYING, I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD! IN THE DAY THAT I LIFTED UP MINE HAND UNTO THEM, TO BRING THEM FORTH OF THE LAND OF EGYPT INTO A LAND THAT I HAD ESPIED FOR THEM, FLOWING WITH MILK AND HONEY, WHICH IS THE GLORY OF ALL LANDS: THEN SAID I UNTO THEM, CAST YE AWAY EVERY MAN THE ABOMINATIONS OF HIS EYES, AND DEFILE NOT YOURSELVES WITH THE IDOLS OF EGYPT! I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD!
When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will encounter two of these chapters containing illustrations and imagery which the word of the LORD would instruct Ezekiel to proclaim and declare unto the captives of Judah and Jerusalem that they might understand spiritual truths, as well as truths concerning themselves, and the leaders who ruled in the midst of the land of Judah. What’s more, is that when you come to this portion of Scripture you will find and discover in the eighteenth chapter perhaps one of the most powerful chapters concerning the equality and fairness of God when it comes to iniquity that is committed by sons and fathers—essentially sins which are committed among and within the generations. In the seventeenth and nineteenth chapters of this prophetic book you will find parables and imagery being revealed unto Ezekiel concerning the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, as well as concerning the king of Judah, while the eighteenth chapter contains a powerful truth concerning the equality of the LORD as it pertains to those souls which sin—particularly and especially as it pertains to one generation sinning against the LORD, while the next generation walked in obedience and faithfulness to the LORD. As you read the words which are found in the eighteenth chapter of this prophetic book you will find and encounter the awesome and incredible truth of how the LORD deals with and handles sin, iniquity and transgression which was committed by fathers and sons, and sons and fathers. Moreover the words which you find within the eighteenth chapter are such that not only describe the LORD’s judgment and dealing with sin, but also how that sin directly impacts that one who had actually committed it before and against the LORD of hosts. You cannot read the eighteenth chapter of this prophetic book without encountering and coming face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that is found at the very heart of it—namely, that “the soul that sins shall die.” If there is one thing you must realize and recognize when reading the words found in this chapter, it’s this undeniable truth concerning that soul which sins, and that soul which chooses to walk in obedience before and unto the LORD.
In all reality, as you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will encounter two distinct and awesome truths. The first truth is centered upon that soul which chooses to walk in righteousness, faithfulness and obedience before the LORD, and that soul which chooses to walk in disobedience, iniquity, transgression and sin before the LORD. There is an absolutely undeniable contrast between those souls which choose to walk in absolute obedience to the command of the Law of the LORD and that soul which deliberately and intentionally chooses to walk in blatant disregard for the Law of the LORD and chooses to walk in rebellion before the LORD. What’s more, is that within this passage of Scripture you will also find a contrast between that soul which is righteous before the LORD and at some point within their life they decide to turn their backs on that righteousness, abandon their faithfulness before and unto the LORD, and choose to walk in blatant rebellion before and against the LORD, and that soul which walked in rebellion and disobedience before and in the sight of the LORD and makes the conscious and deliberate decision to walk in righteousness, faithfulness and obedience before the LORD. Essentially, that which we find within this section of Scripture is a powerful contrast between those who choose to walk in faithfulness and obedience before and unto the LORD, and those who choose to walk in rebellion and unfaithfulness in His sight. It is absolutely important that we recognize and understand this, for at the very heart and center of this chapter are two distinct and undeniable truths concerning the heart and mind of the LORD. The first truth found and contained within this passage of Scripture is one that is absolutely impossible to miss and even more impossible to ignore—namely, that the soul which sins shall die in their sin, and shall die because of their sin. The second truth that is found within this passage of Scripture is that the LORD does not delight in, nor does He take pleasure in the death of the wicked. It is absolutely necessary that we understand that mercy, forgiveness, warning, caution, and the LORD’s attempt to draw and call people back to Him is His heart, however, judgment and wrath are His necessity as He is both holy and righteous.
As I sit here today I can’t help but encounter and come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that what we find within this passage of Scripture can be understood in an even greater light when reading and considering the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the New Testament epistle which was sent unto the saints which were at Rome. If you turn and direct your attention to the third and sixth chapter of this New Testament epistle you will find the apostle Paul speaking not only of sin, but also of the consequences and the repercussions of sin. You cannot read the words which are found within these two chapters and not encounter the tremendous truth which the apostle Paul wrote concerning sin—and not only sin, but also what the apostle Paul would speak of as the wages of sin, or the earnings and result of sin. There is not a doubt in my mind that we cannot truly hope to understand the words which are found within this passage of Scripture without giving some strong consideration to the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the third and sixth chapters of this epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome. What’s more, is I would dare say that we must also carefully consider words which are found in the first half of the eighth chapter of this same epistle, and even those words which are found in the seventh chapter. With this in mind, I invite you to consider the following words which the apostle Paul wrote unto these saints which were living in perhaps one of the most volatile cities at the time, as Rome was a powder keg of persecution and opposition against the people of God. Consider if you will the following words which are written and recorded within these specific chapters contained within this New Testament epistle written by Paul:
“What advantage then hath the Jew? Or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly because unto them were committed the oracles of God. For what if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but ever many a liar; as it is w rotten, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged. But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of GOd, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man) God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world? For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto His glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner? And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? Whose damnation is just. What then? Are we better than they? No, in no wise; for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no not one. Their throat is an open sepculchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that e very mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay: but by the law of faith>. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Romans 3:1-31).
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end of everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:1-23).
“Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the old ness of the letter. What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. May, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in my by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me, (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is not more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:125).
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritual minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, He is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up JEsus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:1-14).
Now you might be wondering why I would choose to include so much of the epistle written by the apostle unto the saints which were at Rome in this writing, and the truth of the matter is that it is within this epistle the apostle Paul clearly sets forth the contrast between continuing willfully and deliberately in sin in the sight of the living God, and actually making the adverse and opposite decision—namely, choosing to walk in obedience and faithfulness to the Law of the LORD. As you read the words which are found within these passages of Scripture you will clearly see and understand that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life. With that being said, there is this strong and powerful invitation given within this epistle—not only to walk in faithfulness and obedience in the sight of the living God, but also to make the conscious and deliberate decision to put to death those members of sin within our bodies. What’s more, is that as you read the words found within this passage of scripture you will encounter and come face to face with the awesome truth that we are to choose between yielding our members as instruments of righteousness unto God, or yielding our members as instruments of unrighteousness against God. You cannot read the words found within these chapters and not come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that we have been given, and are given a powerful choice to make—the choice whether or not we are going to continue to walk in sin, or whether we are going to choose to walk in obedience, faithfulness, righteousness and holiness before the LORD. As you read the words written in the epistle the apostle Paul wrote unto the Romans in light of the words which are found in the eighteenth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel you will quickly encounter and find yourself staring at the truth that not only are the wages of sin death, but so also will that soul that sins die. The word of the LORD made it very clear unto Ezekiel that the soul which sins shall die, and that that soul which dies in sin will die because of their sin. This is in all reality in direct alignment with what the apostle Paul wrote in unto the Romans when he emphatically declared in the sixth chapter that the wages of sin is death.
With this being said, it is also necessary to turn and direct our attention to this concept of the soul which sins dying, and how it directly relates to the words which the apostle Paul also wrote in the same New Testament epistle. If you turn and direct your attention to the fifth chapter of this epistle you will find the apostle Paul writing how through one man sin entered into the world—and not only sin, but also death as a direct result of sin. In the fifth chapter of this same epistle the apostle Paul would compare and contrast sin entering into the world through one man—and not only sin entering into the world, but also death entering into the world through that same man. I WONDER IF ADAM KNEW! DID ADAM HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT WOULD BE UNLEASHED WITHIN THE EARTH! DID ADAM HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT HIS TRANSGRESSION WOULD MEAN FOR THE COUNTLESS HUNDREDS—IF NOT THOUSANDS—OF GENERATIONS WHICH WOULD COME AFTER HIM! When Adam partook of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he did so with the knowledge that eating and partaking of the fruit would produce death and cause them to die, and yet when he partook of that fruit he would have absolutely no clue what it would do unto future generations and all those which would come after him. Interestingly enough that decision between good and evil, and that knowledge of good and evil would be at the very heart and center of our existence within and upon the earth, for each and every day we are forced to make a decision whether we are going to choose that which is good, or whether we will choose that which is evil. What’s more, is that we are faced with the decision each and every day whether or not we are going to chose life, or whether we are going to choose death. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and incredible reality, for when Adam partook of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he would not only introduce sin into the world, but as a direct of that sin, so also would death be introduced within and upon the earth.
As you read the fifth chapter of the New Testament epistle which was written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome you will encounter the awesome reality that through the sin of one man death would enter into the world, and would be present in the midst of the earth from that time on. Ever since that sin and transgression was committed in the garden of Eden all those millennia ago sin and death have been working side by side in harmony within and upon the earth. From the time Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil man has been forced to not only know the difference between these two realities, but also choose between the two. In all reality, this is what was at the very heart of the law of the LORD which was given unto Moses, for it would be through the Law the LORD would set forth His decrees and His statutes and His commands which were to be faithfully obeyed by His people. The Law of the LORD which was given unto Moses when he was atop the mountain in the wilderness would be the ultimate expression of the knowledge of good and evil—albeit, good and evil would be defined by the LORD of hosts alone. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this awesome reality, for each and every day we are faced with two decisions—either we are going to be the ones who choose what is good and evil within our own hearts, minds and souls, or we are going to allow the word of God and the Law of the LORD reveal what is good and what is evil. Part of the temptation of the serpent in the garden was that Adam and Eve would become like God—essentially becoming gods themselves—knowing the difference between good and evil. It is true that men would begin to possess this knowledge of good and evil, however, it is absolutely necessary that we understand this knowledge of good and evil must be determined—not by our own heart and by our own mind, but by the truth that is outlined and described in the word of God. When and as we think about the sin which was committed in the garden of Eden it is absolutely necessary that we understand that although the tree seemed to promise this knowledge of good and evil, we dare not, we cannot, and must be a law unto ourselves and decide for ourselves what is good apart from and without the truth outlined in the word of God.
The words which are found in the fifth chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome help to further reveal the awesome truth which the word of the LORD revealed unto Ezekiel as is recorded in the eighteenth chapter of this prophetic book. If and as you read the words found in the fifth chapter of the epistle written unto the saints at Rome you will find the apostle Paul writing how through one man both sin and death would enter into the world—sin and the sinful nature being passed on through the generations, and death as a direct of that sin. I do not for one minute believe that Adam and Eve knew the half of what would be produced and caused within the earth as a result of their decision to partake of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I do not believe that Adam knew that his sin and decision to partake of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would not only introduce sin into the earth, but would also introduce sin within the human race and all those generations which would come after him. What’s more, is I do not believe for one moment that Adam had any clue that through his sin, through his disobedience, and through his transgression death would come unto all those who would come after him. This death would be witnessed and manifested on two different occasions within the Old Testament book of Genesis as during the days of Noah the LORD would destroy all flesh and everything that had the breath of life within it save those eight which were upon the ark Noah built according to the word of the LORD. It would be during the days of Noah the LORD would destroy all flesh because of the iniquity, the transgression, the sin, and the wickedness that was upon the face of the earth. Moreover, it would be during the days of Lot the LORD would once more bring judgment and death upon sin as He would destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Twice within the Old Testament book of Genesis we find the LORD bringing judgment and wrath upon sin, as the LORD would bring it first on a global scale, and would secondly bring it on a more isolated scale with specific cities of the plain. It is with this in mind I invite you to now consider the words which are found in the fifth chapter of the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Rome:
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into his grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. For if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification. For if by one man’s offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one men’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:1-21).
The words and language we find within this passage of Scripture is absolutely remarkable and astounding when you take the time to think about and consider it, for it brings us face to face with the tremendous reality that through Adam’s transgression, and through Adam’s disobedience there in the garden of Eden—not only did sin enter into the world, but death as a direct result of that sin would also enter into the world. This would be at the very heart and foundation of the apostle Paul’s two main declarations in the third and sixth chapters of the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome—namely, that all have sinned, and that the wages of sin is death. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this awesome and incredible reality, for this truth is what is at the very heart of the word of the LORD which came unto Ezekiel in the sixth year of Jehoiachin’s captivity. The word of the LORD would come unto Ezekiel and would speak about the equality and the justice of God, in that the soul which sins shall die. That which is found in the eighteenth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel has at the very heart of it the truth which would later be revealed in the epistle which the apostle Paul would write unto the Romans—namely, that through Adam sin would enter into the world, and that sin entering into the world would also produce death. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and pay close attention to this, for it helps us to understand—not only the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Rome, but also the words which. Moses the servant of the LORD would speak unto the congregation of the children of Israel as they prepared to enter into the land of Canaan which their fathers had forfeited through their own disobedience and rebellion in the sight of the LORD. The words which you find in the final chapters of the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy present us with a powerful call and a powerful invitation to choose life versus and over death. When Moses was preparing to die and go the way of all the earth, he set before the children of Israel a choice and decision that would need to be made by them. What makes this all the more intriguing and captivating is when you think about the fact that the same choice and the same decision Moses the servant of the LORD would call and invite the children of Israel to make would also be found and expressed in the days of Joshua as he prepared to go the way of all the earth, as well as during the days of Elijah. Consider if you will the following invitations to not only choose between life and death, but also between worshipping and serving the one true and living God, and the false gods of this present age:
“See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear it, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: that thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them” (Deuteronomy 30:15-20).
“Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve Him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:14-15).
“And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, how long halt ye between two opinions? If the LORD be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word” (1 Kings 18:21).
As I sit here today thinking about the awesome truth found and contained within these three passages, I can’t help but be drawn into the awesome reality that from the time of Adam until now we have been called into a place of choice and decision. Much like the ancient Hebrew prophet who saw multitudes upon multitudes being brought into the Valley of Decision, so also are we being brought into a place of decision before us. During the days of Moses that decision was between life and death, and blessing and cursing. During the days of Joshua that decision was between the one true and living God or the gods of Egypt and the gods on the other side of the flood. During the days of Elijah that choice and that decision was between serving Baal or worshipping the one true and living God. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we understand this powerful truth, for in the garden the choice was to freely eat of the fruit of every tree in the garden save the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, or choose to eat of that which was forbidden and prohibited by the living God. It is necessary that we recognize and understand this truly powerful truth, for when you come to the eighteenth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel you will find the prophet being confronted with choices and decisions—decisions that were made concerning righteousness, concerning holiness and concerning obedience in the sight of the living God. That which is at the very heart of the eighteenth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel is a choice that was made—either to walk in obedience and faithfulness before and toward the living God, or to walk in disobedience and rebellion against His commands, His statutes, His laws, and His decrees. What’s more, is that there is a second realm where this choice and this decision is found—namely, in that choice the one who had previously committed wickedness and rebellion against the LORD willfully and deliberately choosing to forsake his wicked ways and obey and follow the LORD, and that one who previously walked in righteousness and faithfulness before the LORD and who made the conscious and deliberate decision to abandon and forsake that righteousness, turn from following and obeying God, and choosing instead to walk in rebellion, iniquity and transgression before the LORD. We cannot afford to miss this truly astonishing truth, for at the very heart of the eighteenth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel is the declaration that the soul which sins shall die.
With the declaration found within this chapter that the soul which sins shall die, there is also the adverse and contrary declaration that the soul which does what is right in the sight of the LORD will live. There is within the very heart and soul of this passage a contrast between a decision to live and a decision to die. You cannot read the words found within this passage of Scripture and not encounter the awesome and amazing reality that there are two distinct groups of individuals which are represented here before us. What’s more, is that upon reading the words found within this chapter you will find perhaps one of the underlying questions the people of God asked being centered upon the equality of God. Towards the end of the chapter you will find the word of the LORD speaking unto Ezekiel and revealing unto him the children of Israel saying among themselves that the way of the LORD was not equal, and that the LORD was somehow unfair in His dealings with men. In the twenty-fifth verse of this particular chapter we find the word of the LORD revealing how the children of Israel said among themselves that the way of the LORD was not equal, and how the LORD responded by declaring and pronouncing their ways as not being equal. This same reality would be found in the twenty-ninth verse of the same chapter, as the children of Israel struggled with the equality and the fairness of God in His dealings with men, and in His dealings with those who sinned, and those who transgressed against the command of the LORD. The words which we find in this particular passage not only reveal the tremendous dangers in choosing to walk in deliberate and willful disobedience before and in the sight of the living God, but also making a decision to turn from one’s righteousness and choose to walk in rebellion before and against the living God. In all reality, I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the author of the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews wrote in both the sixth and tenth chapters of this book. As you read the words which are found in these passages of Scripture you will encounter what is perhaps one of the greatest debates in the history of Christendom—namely, whether or not one can indeed and can in fact lose their salvation. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the sixth chapter first, and then in the tenth chapter of this same New Testament epistle:
“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the HOly Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: but that which heareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned” (Hebrews 6:1-8).
“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of J emus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to day, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is f aithful that promised;) and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, supposed ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hat trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the LORD. And again, The LORD shall judge HIs people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, that took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For ye a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:19-38).
The words which we find in these two passages present us with an incredibly challenging truth—namely, the possibility that there might be those who have not only tasted of the goodness of the LORD, but who after tasting the goodness of the LORD chose to turn their backs on and forsake Him. I can’t help but encounter the awesome and challenging reality found within these Scriptures, and how sobering it is to think about those who after they tasted the goodness of the LORD, and those who perhaps for a season followed and obeyed the voice of the LORD would willfully, deliberately and intentionally turn their backs on and forsake Him. As you read the words found in the eighteenth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel you will find those who chose to walk in disobedience, rebellion, iniquity and transgression against the LORD—perhaps their entire lives—and those who didn’t start off that way. There is a clear and present contrast between those who had deliberately and intentionally walked in disobedience and rebellion against the LORD without having ever turned their heart to Him in repentance, and those who at one point worshipped and served the one true and living God, and at one point during their lives made the decision they no longer wanted to walk with and follow Him. Pause for a moment and think about what that reality would actually be like—that someone could taste of the goodness of the LORD, that someone could walk in faithfulness and obedience before Him, and that someone could worship Him as the Creator of the universe, and yet willfully and deliberately turn their backs on Him. In all reality, this reminds me of a narrative that is found in the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by the apostle John. Within this chapter we find it written and recorded of a great falling away—a turning back if you will—of those who once walked with Jesus the Christ, and those who once followed Him. There is within this narrative a powerful revelation of those who became offended with Christ, and who as a result of being offended with Christ chose to turn and walk no more with Him. Consider if you will the following words which are found in this particular chapter beginning with the fifty-second verse of the chapter:
“The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us His flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. These things said He in the synagogue, as He taught in Capernaum. Many therefore of His disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples murmured at it, He said unto them, DOTH THIS OFFEND YOU? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where He was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Weill ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered them, have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray Him, being one of the twelve” (John 6:52-71).
The moreI read the eighteenth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel the more I can’t help but encounter and come face to face with the sobering reality that there are essentially four groups of individuals mentioned within this passage. The first group of individuals mentioned in this passage are those who walked in faithfulness, obedience and righteousness before the LORD, and who walked according to His commands and statutes, and would live. There was a second group which was similar to this group, however there is one noticeable difference between the two. This second group of individuals are those who at one point walked in disobedience, transgression, iniquity and wickedness before the LORD, and yet at some point within their life would experience a powerful transformation which would cause them to abandon their wicked ways, turn their heart and soul to the living God, and walk in obedience and faithfulness before Him the rest of their days. The third and fourth group are entirely and altogether adverse from these first two groups in that these groups were those who walked in wickedness, disobedience, and rebellion before the LORD. The third group were those who walked in rebellion, disobedience and transgression before the LORD, and who would die in their sin and iniquity—perhaps even die because of their sin an iniquity. The fourth and final group that is presented before us in this passage of Scripture are those who began walking in righteousness, and those who began walking in obedience before and unto the living God, and yet at one point in time they chose to turn their hearts and their souls from walking with the one true and living God. Much like the disciples during Jesus’ day who became offended with Him because of the words He spoke went back and walked no more with Him, so do these individuals choose to turn their backs on the one true and living God, and choose death instead of life, cursing instead of blessing. In all reality, this is what is found in the Old Testament books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, for within both of these books we find powerful declarations of blessing for those who chose to walk in obedience to the living God, and those who chose to walk in disobedience to the same God. What makes these passages so incredibly challenging is when you think about and consider it on a national scale.
In the eighteenth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel we find the possibility of a righteous soul turning from their righteousness and giving themselves to wickedness, while we also find the possibility of a wicked soul turning from their wickedness and giving themselves to righteousness. It’s important to note that what we find in the eighteenth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel is represented on an individual scale, and how the LORD of hosts would declare unto Ezekiel that the soul which sins shall die, but the soul which obeys shall indeed live. What’s more, is that perhaps the main question that is asked within this chapter through and by the prophet Ezekiel is one that has been asked throughout the generations since then—and even before then. The underlying question that was asked of the LORD unto the children of Israel was simply: “Why will you die?” Stop for a moment and think about the tremendous reality of that question, for it was a question that wasn’t merely presented unto one particular individual among the house of Judah, but it was one that was presented to the entire house of Judah. Through the prophets which the LORD sent rising up early and speaking unto and warning them the LORD would indeed ask them why they would die, and why they would not rather choose to live. Perhaps one of the things that amazes me about this passage of Scripture is what is found at the very end and conclusion of it, for in the final three verses we find the LORD not only inviting the house of Judah to repent and turn themselves from their transgressions so their iniquity would not be their run, but He also invited them to cast away from them all their transgressions and to make a new heart and a new spirit. It is after making these declarations the LORD goes on to ask the very pointed and powerful question—“Why will ye die, O house of Israel?” What I so love and appreciate after this is the awesome and wonderful truth that the LORD goes on to declare that He has no pleasure in the death of him that dies, and then goes on to once more invite them to turn themselves and live. What a truly wonderful and awesome theme this is in the prophetic book of Ezekiel, for as you will see in the thirty-seventh chapter the declaration and invitation to live would not only be given unto an entire nation, but also a nation that was dead which the LORD would bring back to life. With this in mind, I can’t help but be consider the words which the prophet Ezekiel prophesied and proclaimed according to the word of the LORD which are found in the eleventh chapter of this same prophetic book. Consider if you will the following words which are found in this passage of Scripture beginning to read from the seventeenth verse of the chapter:
“Therefore say, Thus saith the LORD God; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel. And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from thence. And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: that they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the LORD God” (Ezekiel 11:17-21).
It is also necessary that we read and consider the following words which are found later on in the prophetic book of Ezekiel—specifically in the thirty-sixth chapter when the word of the LORD is spoken by Ezekiel concerning the LORD uniting once more the house of Israel and the house of Judah as one people, and restoring them unto the land. Much of the thirty-sixth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel speaks to and reveals the truth that although the house of Israel would go into captivity before and ahead of the house of Judah, and although the house of Judah would themselves enter into captivity, the LORD would bring them all back into the land as one people. It would be as one people the house of Israel and the house of Judah would return into the land, and it was as one people the LORD would restore unto and a in the midst of the land. With that being said, I invite you to consider the following words which are found within the thirty-sixth chapter beginning to read with and from the twenty-fifth verse:
“Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall e clean: from all your filthy ness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. And ye shall well in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. I will also save you from all your uncleanness: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you. And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen. Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations. Not for your sakes do I this, saith the LORD God, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel. Thus saith the LORD God; In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall e builded. And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by. And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited. Then the heathen that are left round about you shall know that I the LORD build the ruined places, and plant that which was desolate: I the LORD have spoken it, and I will do it. Thus saith the LORD God; I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock. As the holy flock, as the flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts; so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men: and they shall know that I am the LORD” (Ezekiel 36:25-38).
The words which are found in the eighteenth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel are those which are quite challenging when you read them, for although they appear to be spoken on an individual level they must be understood on a national and corporate scale. You cannot read the words which are found in this chapter and focus solely on the individual aspect of it, and not also allow yourself to see it in light of the greater picture, which wasn’t merely an individual who the LORD was speaking about, but rather as a nation as a whole. We dare not and must not allow ourselves to get caught up in focusing on this on an individual level alone, for as much as it was directed toward individuals, it was also about the nation and people as a whole. Although the nation was comprised and made up of a number of various individuals, the words which we find here address the entire nation as a whole. This is important for us to understand for a nation has two different choices which they can and must make—either they will be a nation who walks in obedience and faithfulness to the Law of the LORD, or they can and will be a nation that walks in disobedience, iniquity and transgression before the LORD. Essentially there are two different types of nations and peoples within the earth, as there are those nations which deliberately and consciously choose to walk in faithfulness and obedience before the LORD, and there are those nations which walk in blatant disregard for the Law of the LORD, and walk in rebellion to Him. Perhaps the underlying question we must ask ourselves is whether or not there is a single nation on this earth in this generation that is walking wholly after the LORD God of hosts, and who are walking in obedience to His commands and instructions. If you were to survey each and every nation that is present in the earth today—perhaps the greatest question you must ask is whether or not that nation is one which is walking in obedience before the LORD in this generation, or whether that nation is walking in blatant rebellion against the LORD. What’s more, is that one of the greatest questions we must ask is of the two-hundred plus nations that are presently upon the earth—how many of those nations perhaps began walking in faithfulness and obedience before the LORD, and yet have turned their backs on Him? Of the more than two-hundred plus nations which are upon the face of the earth today, how many nations have completely and utterly turned their back on the one true and living God? Please note that I am not talking about those nations which have blatantly and overtly walked in flagrant rebellion before and against the LORD, but any nation which at one point in time walked in obedience and faithfulness before and unto the LORD.
I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture, and I can’t help but encounter the awesome and incredible truth that there have been two nations—at least that I am absolutely convinced of—in the history of nations which have begun walking with and serving the LORD, and have turned their back on the LORD and walked in flagrant disobedience and rebellion against Him. Or, I should say that there have been at least two nations in the history of nations upon the earth which were dedicated and formed based on the principles and commandments of the LORD—the word of God and the Law of the LORD. The United States of America was a nation that was founded upon the word of God and the principles that are found and contained therein, while the nation of Israel was established on the Law of the LORD which was given unto Moses the servant of the LORD at Horeb in the wilderness of Sinai. Both the United States of America and Israel were founded upon the principles of the word of God, and both nations were founded with the expectation that they would worship and serve the one true and living God. Even our currency states “In God We Trust,” and our Pledge of Allegiance (as of now) declares “One nation under God, indivisible), thus indicating even further that this nation was founded upon the principles outlined in the word of God. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we understand this for when Scripture declares that the soul which sins shall die—we must also recognize that when this takes shape on a national and corporate scale, it is possible that a nation that sins will die. CAN A NATION DIE? Scripture seems to indicate that a nation can be born (or reborn) in a day, as that is precisely what happened with the nation of Israel in 1948 when after centuries of being scattered among the nations, the Jewish people were permitted to return to a land which which would be theirs. Even Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones indicates this possibility of rebirth and coming back to life again—and not just rebirth, but also resurrection. I ask the question whether or not a nation can indeed and can in fact die, and the truth of the matter is that it is entire nation of Israel did in fact die and was buried in the land of the Chaldeans for seventy years.
A SEVENTY YEAR BURIAL! The more I think about the captivity of the house of Israel, the more I can’t help but think about the fact that the nation of Israel essentially died when the judgment and wrath of the LORD fell and the enemy was allowed to invade the land, destroy the Temple, and carry the people away captive. It’s almost as if for seventy years the children of Israel were buried in the land of the Chaldeans waiting for the opportunity to be reborn and waiting for the opportunity to be resurrected. It would be the decree of Cyrus king of Persia according to the prophetic word spoken through Isaiah, as well as the prophetic words of Jeremiah that would confirm that seventy year burial in the land of the Chaldeans. There would, however, come a day when the house of Israel would emerge from the land of the Chaldeans—almost as though emerging from a grave and tomb—and being reborn and resurrected as the nation and people they once were. Of course we know that a similar reality would occur in the year 70 A.D. when Rome invaded Judaea and Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple of the LORD, and scattered the people among the nations of the earth. From the year 70 A.D. to the year 1948 the people of Israel would be scattered among the nations of the earth until that time came when they would be permitted to return back unto their own land. It would be on a single day in 1948 the people of Israel would be reborn—not merely as a people, but as a nation in the midst of all other nations. The reason I mention this, is because the nation of Israel aptly demonstrates and reveals that it is possible for a nation to die, for not only did the nation of Israel die once, but it might very well be argued that it died twice—once when Babylon invaded it, and once when Rome invaded. The nation of Israel would die twice within the history of mankind, and even within its own history, as the Babylonian captivity would cause them to be died and buried in the land of the Chaldeans waiting to be raised to life again, and as the Romans would invade Judaea and scatter them among the nations of the earth. When 1948 actually came to pass the nation of Israel would be reborn and its people resurrected from the tombs they had been living in for countless centuries. Moreover, the nation of Israel would be resurrected from a literal and physical death—and almost an extinction—as Hitler’s Germany would slaughter six million Jews in the Holocaust.
I mention all of this because as I have already written—the LORD emphatically declared that the soul which sins shall die. If that soul which sins shall die, then we have to ask the question whether or not a nation can die. The nation of Israel has proven that a nation can indeed die—and not only die, but die twice. Moreover, the nation of Israel proved and revealed that a nation can indeed be reborn and resurrected—albeit, we know that the nation of Israel was God’s chosen people. The reason I mention this is because if it’s true that the soul which sins shall die, then we have to ask the question whether or not that nation which sins shall die. More specifically, can a nation that is not Israel die if and because it sins and transgresses the commandment of the LORD. We know that Israel’s “death” not only came as a result of it’s sin when Babylon invaded the land, but also as a result of their rejection of the Messiah in their time and hour of visitation. The question being presented right now is whether or not it is possible for a nation to die and perish because of its transgression. We know that nations can indeed be judged and punished according to the wrath of God because of their sins—and even our own nation has proven and demonstrated that through the Civil War, Vietnam, and even the attacks of September 11th almost twenty years ago. There is not a doubt in my mind that a nation can indeed and can in fact die in and as a result of their sins and their transgressions. What’s more, is that a nation can either die in its sins because it has sinned from the beginning, or it can die in its sins because it turned from its righteousness and committed itself to transgression before and against the LORD. In all reality, when we speak of this nation of the United States of America, we must understand that this nation can die—not because it has sinned from the beginning, but because it has turned from its righteousness and given itself to wickedness. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the eighteenth chapter of this prophetic book of Ezekiel beginning to read with and from the twenty-fourth verse:
“But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die. Yet ye say, The way of the LORD is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; is not my way equal? Are not your ways unequal? When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die” (Ezekiel 28:24-26).
I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated by the fact that the word of the LORD would speak and reveal unto the prophet Ezekiel the very real truth that the soul which sins—that sou shall die. What’s more, is the word of the LORD would reveal that that soul which abandoned and forsook righteousness that it might commit iniquity and wickedness shall die in and because of its sin, and its righteousness would not be mentioned, nor taken into account. Please do not miss and lose sight of this awesome and powerful truth, for it possible to not only die in your sin, but to die because of your sin, and if you once committed righteousness in the sight of the LORD, your righteousness cannot and will not be remembered. We must recognize and understand that we can and will be judged for our righteousness, and we can and will be judged for our wickedness. The word of the LORD made it perfectly clear that when a righteous soul turns away from that righteousness and commits iniquity and trespass, the righteousness which it has done will not be mentioned. I am absolutely convinced that if this is true for an individual, it is also true for nations and peoples. With that being said, I not only find myself asking whether or not America can in fact die, but also whether or not the righteousness which America did at the first will even be mentioned. I know for a fact that we are living during days and times when there is more wickedness being committed within this nation than there is righteousness, and we run the risk of any righteousness which we once did no longer being remembered. America has done a lot of good since it first became a nation, and it has committed a lot of righteous acts in the midst of the earth, yet one cannot deny the fact that America has indeed turned from its righteousness and pursue wickedness, iniquity, idolatry and immorality. One cannot deny the fact that America has turned from and is turning from righteousness, and is pursuing wickedness in the midst of the earth. Oh that we would recognize and come to terms with this, for it brings a whole new meaning to the words which are found in the eighteenth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel.
With all of this being said, I feel it is absolutely necessary to understand and recognize these words, for when you come to the twentieth chapter of this prophetic book you will find the word of the LORD coming unto Ezekiel concerning the great iniquity and transgression that was committed by the house of Israel before and in the sight of the living God. After reading the words found in the eighteenth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel we must not only recognize and understand that the soul which sins shall die, but we must also understand the truth that the LORD takes absolutely no pleasure and no delight in the death of anyone, but that all should turn themselves and live. The LORD has absolutely no desire to watch anyone die—and certainly not dying and perishing in their sins, their transgression and their iniquity. In the eighteenth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel we find the LORD inviting the house of Israel to turn themselves from their wicked ways, and to repent before Him that they might live. The tragic reality of this is that when you read the words found in the twentieth chapter of this book you will find the house of Israel chose to ignore the invitation to turn and repent before the LORD, and to be healed and to live. If you read the words which are found in the twentieth chapter of this prophetic book you will once more find the elders of Israel sitting before Ezekiel and coming unto him that they might inquire of the LORD by him. The word of the LORD would comer unto Ezekiel and would instruct him to make known unto the elders the sins of their fathers, and that which they had trespassed and committed against the LORD. The word of the LORD would speak and reveal unto Ezekiel that the house of Israel would choose to ignore His invitation to turn themselves from their evil and wicked ways, and to repent before Him that they might live. The invitation given was that they turn from their wicked ways, and that they pursue righteousness in the sight and presence of the LORD. What we find in the twentieth chapter, however, is anything but that turning, and anything but that pursuit of righteousness and obedience in the sight of the living God. I can’t help but see the words which are found in this passage of Scripture as being a powerful warning unto us as individuals, as well as us as a nation concerning whether or not we are walking in obedience and faithfulness to the LORD, and whether or not we are walking according to His statutes, his decrees and HIs commands. It is with this I leave you with the words found in this passage of Scripture beginning to read with and from the opening verse:
“And it came to pass in the seventh year, in the fifth month, the tenth day of the month, that certain of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the LORD, and sat before me. Then came the word of the LORD unto me, saying, Son of man, speak unto the elders of Israel, and say unto them, Thus saith the LORD God; Are ye come to inquire of me? As I live, saith the LORD God, I will not be inquired of by you. Wilt thou judge them, son of man, wilt thou judge them Cause them to know the abominations of their fathers: and say unto them, Thus saith the LORD God; In the day when I chose Israel, and a lifted up. Mine hand unto the seed of the house of Jacob, and made myself known unto them in the land of Egypt, when I lifted up mine hand unto them, saying, I am the LORD your God; In the day that I lifted up mine hand unto them, to bring them forth of the land of Egypt into a land that I had espied for them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands: then said I unto them, cast ye away every man the abominations of his eyes, and defile not yourselves with the idols of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. But they rebelled against me, and would not hearken unto me: they did not every man cast away the abominations of their eyes, neither did they forsake the idols of Egypt: then I said, I will pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger agains them in the midst of the land of Egypt. But I wrought for my name’s sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, among whom they were, in whose sight I made myself known unto them, in bringing them forth out of the land of Egypt. Wherefore I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them forth out of the land of Egypt. Wherefore I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness. And I gave them my statutes, and shewed them my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them. Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them. But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness: they walked not in my statutes, and they despised my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; and my sabbaths they greatly polluted: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them in the wilderness, to consume them. But I wrought for my name’s sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, in whose sight I brought them out. Yet also I lifted up my hand unto them in the wilderness, that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands; because they despised my judgments, and walked not in my statutes, but polluted my. Sabbaths: for their heart went after their idols. Nevertheless mine eye spared them from destroying them, neither did I make an end of them in the wilderness. Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols: I am the LORD your God; walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the LORD your God. Notwithstanding the children rebelled against me: they walked not in my statutes, neither kept my judgments to do them, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; they polluted my sabbaths: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the wilderness. Nevertheless I withdrew mine hand, and wrought for my name’s sake, that it should not be polluted in the sight of the heathen, in whose sight I brought them forth. I lifted up mine hand unto them also in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the heathen, and disperse them through the countries; because they had not executed my judgments, but had despised my statutes, and had polluted my sabbaths, and their eyes were after their father’s idols. Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not life; and I polluted them in their own gifts, in that they caused to pass through the fire all that openeth the womb, that I might make them desolate, to the end that they might know that I am the LORD. Therefore, son of man, speak unto the house of Israel, and say unto them, Thus saith the LORD God; Yet in this your fathers have blasphemed me, in that they have committed a trespass against me. For when I had brought them into the land, for the which I lifted up mine hand to give it to them, then they saw every high hill, and all the thick trees, and they offered there their sacrifices, and there they presented the provocation of their offering: there also they made their sweet savour, and poured out there drink offerings. Then I said unto them, What is the high place whereunto ye go? And the name thereof is called Bamah unto this day. Wherefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the LORD God; Are ye polluted after the manner of your fathers? And commit ye whoredom after their abominations? For when ye offer your gifts, when ye make your sons to pass through the fire, ye pollute yourselves with all your idols, even unto this day: and shall I be inquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live, saith the LORD, I will not be inquired of by you” (Ezekiel 20:1-31).