BREAKING THE CYCLE
In the Scriptures we are told that sin can have a lasting effect on subsequent generations (Ex. 20:5; Deut. 5:9). We see this principle played out in families where alcoholism, physical or sexual abuse has taken hold—unless checked, those same patterns can show up in the children and grandchildren.
But in today’s OT reading in Ezekiel 18, the people of Israel have taken that principle and twisted it into a lie: “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge.” (Ezek. 18:2) From the inside, this lie say that there’s no escape from the cycle. From the outside, this lie says that people who come from that cycle are worthless—just unredeemable, damaged goods. On both sides, there’s an implication that God isn’t fair.
God speaks directly to this lie in the rest of the chapter, giving hypothetical scenarios of people who are righteous or evil—and each is rewarded according to their deeds. At the end, God sits us down and tells us what we need to hear:
- God will judge each person fairly. (v. 20)
- Be careful when you wish for fair judgement. Remember the quality of your own character. (v. 25, 29)
- God is more interested in our turning away from evil in repentance than in condemning us. (v. 23, 30-32)
Are you affected by this cycle of sin and pain? Understand that God is fair and merciful, and wants us to be free from it—that’s why Jesus came (1 John 3:8)! Let the Holy Spirit empower you and give you both the desire and ability to live in freedom of life and peace (Romans 8:1-8).