Ezekiel 18:20, Who Is Guilty?

The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son.

Ezekiel is a favorite of few Bible readers. It certainly wasn’t mine; imagine my surprise when, researching for my book about Revelation, I discovered Revelation to be an update and rewrite of Ezekiel.

Just as we, today, routinely update and rewrite Revelation to match the beliefs of today’s Christians, so did Revelation update and rewrite Ezekiel. Our eschatological beliefs differ from John’s Revelation as severely as John’s differ from Ezekiel’s. And now, in this verse, we see how radically Ezekiel has rewritten the scriptures of his day. We read in exodus:

for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

So, which is it? Does God punish the offspring of the sinner, or is “the one who sins the one who will die?” Clearly, we prefer Ezekiel’s understanding.

What will tomorrow’s Christians believe about God’s punishment? If Christianity is going to continue evolving on its humanitarian journey, then it’s up to us to continue to grow in our understanding of God.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>