Turn and Live
After a moment of painful and pitiful silence and a couple of false starts, she finally says, “B…B….Baxter Bunny broke the lamp when I left the room.”
Through the voice of the prophet, the Lord speaks and says that each person is loved by God and is responsible for their actions. God is calling the people of Israel into and toward personal responsibility. This message was not easy to hear then neither is it easy to hear now.
In the verses that follow this passage, Ezekiel illustrates his point by speaking of several different generations who each bear the personal responsibility for their decisions, some for better and others for worse.
Then we come to these important words, the climax, where the point is driven home. Again God speaks and says, “Repent and turn from all your transgressions; otherwise iniquity will be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against me, and make (receive for?) yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies, says the Lord God. Turn, then, and live.” God calls Israel, the covenant community, yes, but also the individual to repent, to turn; to take personal responsibility for their actions.
There is corporate culpability, of course. However, you see, there is also individual responsibility.
Now, I must confess that this was and continues to be a difficult passage for me. As I read, I found myself wanting to shout, “But what about the child who is abused?” The sins of one generation do impact another. “What about the drunk driver who kills a mother and her two children leaving behind a single father and their six-month old?” The sins of one generation do impact another. “What about slavery?” “What about the treatment of the Native Americans?” “What about….”
Yes. Yes. Yes. Indeed the sins of one generation do have an impact on the next. And, our passage of Scripture is not denying the truth of this statement.
However, this passage of Scripture is challenging us to change the way we think and the excuses we make. We, along with exiled Israel, are being called to live a life characterized by repentance. We are being called by this prophetic voice from over 2500 years ago, to step away from the status quo of our easy excuses. We are called to be honest with ourselves and our God.
Let us “turn, then, and live.”