LIVE, AND NOT DIE
(Exo 20:1-3) And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. [The first commandment] Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
(Exo 20:4-6) [The second commandment] Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity [Heb: sins] of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And showing mercy [“showing love” NIV; “showing lovingkindness” New American Standard Bible; “steadfast love” Amplified Bible] unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments [i.e., the evidence of their salvation].
1. (John 14:15-17) If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
2. Commentary: “them that hate me,” i.e., them that have no love for me, refers to unsaved children who are environmentally affected and influenced (visited) by the sins of their fathers “unto the third and fourth generation”; but these same children are not punished for the sins of their fathers because their children are not responsible for the sins of their father: “the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ezek 18:4). This commandment exposes the falsity of the doctrine of “heredity sins.” On the other hand, blessings of “mercy” flow unto “thousands of them that love me.”
THE FALSE INTERPRETATION OF A RELATED PROVERB IS REFUTED
(Ezek 18:1-4) The word of the LORD came unto me again, saying, What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge? As I live, saith the Lord GOD, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel. 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.
1. (Jer 31:28-30) And it shall come to pass, that like as I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict; so will I watch over them, to build, and to plant, saith the LORD. In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.
2. Commentary: This apparently popular proverb was quite true to the point of affecting influence; but if the interpretation of the proverb extends beyond influence to garnering punishment, it is false.
THE JUST MAN
(Ezek 18:5-9) But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right, And hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled his neighbour's wife, neither hath come near to a menstruous woman, And hath not oppressed any, but hath restored to the debtor his pledge [Heb: security for debt], hath spoiled [Heb: stripped or robbed] 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 [Heb: charged interest], neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity [Heb: evil], 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 [and go to Heaven], saith the Lord GOD.
AN EVIL SON
(Ezek 18:10-13) 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 live [and go to Heaven]? he shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die [and go to Hell]; his blood shall be upon him [i.e., the righteousness of the father cannot save the son].
A JUST SON
(Ezek 18:14-17) Now, lo, if he beget a son, that seeth all his father's sins which he hath done, and considereth [Heb: thinks about], 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 usury nor increase, hath executed my judgments, hath walked in my statutes; he shall not die [and go to Hell] for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live [and go to Heaven].
THE UNRIGHTEOUS EVIL FATHER
(Ezek 18:18) 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 [and go to Hell].
(Ezek 18:19,20) 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 [and go to Heaven]. The soul that sinneth, it shall die [and go to Hell]. 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
(Ezek 18:21-23) But 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 [and go to Heaven], he shall not die [and go to Hell]. 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 cause his eternal separation from God]? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live [eternally with God in Heaven]?
IF THE RIGHTEOUS “TURNETH AWAY” FROM HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS
Ezek 18:24 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 [and go to Heaven]? All his righteousness that 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 [and go to Hell].
(Ezek 18:25-28) 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 [i.e., unforgiven sin]; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die [and go to Hell]. 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 [and go to Heaven]. Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live [and go to Heaven], he shall not die [and go to hell].
(Ezek 18:29-32) 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 [Heb: consider], 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: for why will ye die [and go to Hell], O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth [and goes to Hell], saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye [and go to Heaven].