2 Chronicles 28:19
“For the Lord brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had encouraged moral decline in Judah and had been continually unfaithful to the Lord.”
It seems to me that men are addicted to titles. We give nicknames to our friends and relatives, the moment a catastrophe happens people are racing to give it a catchy name and every era is classified by some behavior associated with it. We have been introduced to the hippies, the yuppies, genX and the Millennials. I think if we were to honestly evaluate the age we live in today we might call it the “blame someone elsers.”
The moment something bad happens we begin to look for someone to blame. Just recently my son was rear-ended by another driver. Within seconds of the accident the person claimed he backed into them. They were on a flat surface, waiting at a stop light and the woman was looking down at her phone, yet the accident was clearly someone else’s fault. This problem has become an epidemic and has spread throughout our land. If we don’t want this to continue and destroy us, it is time we start looking for a cure.
If we will look into the Bible and allow it to look into us we will find that we are taught to take responsibility for our own actions and that personal sin will result in being brought low. When something bad happens, instead of hunting for someone else to blame we should immediately look within to see what we have done wrong and look up to God seeking His forgiveness and remedy to the problem.
“But, behold, I will raise up a nation against you, O house of Israel,” Says the Lord God of hosts; “And they will afflict you from the entrance of Hamath to the Valley of the Arabah.”
Israel was facing calamity; their economy was in the tank and the nations around them were becoming an increasing threat. Soon they would be overthrown and taken captive by Assyria. These difficulties, although natural, had a spiritual cause and remedy. They were not being defeated because their armies were weak and untrained, or because their numbers were too small to defend themselves. They were simply facing the consequences of turning away from God. Drought, famine, pestilence, barrenness, defeat and other calamities were some of the consequences Israel faced because they turned their backs on the Lord. With divine guidance, the prophets heralded a message that the difficulties they faced were nothing short of the judgment of God.
It is difficult today to directly associate every calamity the nations face as divine judgment. We cannot know for sure if an earthquake or other natural or manmade disaster has anything to do with divine retribution, or if it is simply the consequences of living in a fallen world, surrounded by sinful men. But one thing is sure, these types of events should grab our attention, and turn it upward. Jesus explained that the times leading to His return would be marked by wars, famines and natural disasters. Instead of summits on climate change, we should be seeing gatherings of people determined to seek the Lord on behalf of the nations. What the world needs, today, is people who are willing to stand in the gap and intercede on behalf of those who have not yet come to faith in Christ.
“If, however, he begets a son who sees all the sins which his father has done, and considers but does not do likewise, he shall surely live.”
It seems we have become a generation who blames our faults on others. No one wants to take responsibility for their own actions. Attitudes of the heart, as well as sinful behavior, are often blamed on our upbringing or our genetics. As much as this may seem like a modern problem, Ezekiel reveals this is actually a human nature problem. 2600 years ago this attitude was so commonplace it was captured in a proverb; the people could be heard saying,
“‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
And the children’s teeth are set on edge”
Ezekiel’s message is twofold. First, he begins by making it clear, in the eyes of God, each individual is responsible for his own actions. While our genetics and our upbringing may make it easier to fall into certain sins, these things do not excuse improper behavior. Each one will stand individually before God for his actions. Second, Ezekiel also makes it clear that we can turn from our past actions and live pleasing to the Lord.
Many people seem to repeat the same mistakes their parents and grandparents made. If a person was mistreated or neglected by their parents, they have a greater tendancy to treat their children the same way. If a person grew up with parents who abused alcohol or drugs, it is common for the children to follow the same path. One of the great promises of Ezekiel is that you can get out of that cycle. If we choose to surrender to Christ, allow His Word to direct us, and His Spirit to empower us, we can be freed from the tyranny of the cycle that has ruled our familes for generations.
Whatever your past may have been, now is the time to turn to the Lord and live.
2 Samuel 4:8
“And they brought the head of Ishbosheth to David at Hebron, and said to the king, ‘Here is the head of Ishbosheth, the son of Saul your enemy, who sought your life; and the Lord has avenged my lord the king this day of Saul and his descendants.’”
King Ishbosheth’s officers could see that the kingdom was collapsing; Abner, the head of the military had joined forces with David and Ishbosheth was so depressed he spent his days lying in bed. Baanah and Rechab saw this as an opportunity to make a name for themselves. Thinking they would be richly rewarded, they decided to kill the king and bring his remains to David. Their thoughts and behaviors were a clear violation of the Word of God, and of the heart of king David, yet they convinced themselves they were serving God.
“. . . the Lord has avenged my lord the king. . . “
While it is not everyday a Christian will lop the head off of a king, it is fairly common to blame God for our own desires. I don’t think a week goes by without my hearing someone explain, the Lord told them to do something that seems highly questionable. Just recently, a man stood emphatically on a doctrinal position, and rather than use scripture to support his position, he kept expressing how God had revealed it to him. The same is often true as it relates to actions. I have heard believers who use this same rational to justify all kinds of ungodly practices, including harboring bitterness, being divisive, or even living with a boyfriend or girlfriend.
It is important that we learn to make a distinction between the will of God and our own emotions. The clarifying agent in every case will be the Word of God.