08 November 2010

Nov 8

Reference links:
Old Testament

Today's reading starts out with God asking a good question:
Then another message came to me from the Lord: “Why do you quote this proverb concerning the land of Israel: ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes, but their children’s mouths pucker at the taste’?
Yeah! Where did people get this crazy impression that children will be punished for the sins of their parents? Oh wait, it was from God himself!

At least God is willing to change his mind on the matter:
As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, you will not quote this proverb anymore in Israel. For all people are mine to judge—both parents and children alike. And this is my rule: The person who sins is the one who will die.
He's still fixated on death as punishment, but it's good to see he's making progress. It's interesting to see what sort of man is considered punishable by death:
he worships idols on the mountains, commits adultery, oppresses the poor and helpless, steals from debtors by refusing to let them redeem their security, worships idols, commits detestable sins, and lends money at excessive interest. Should such a sinful person live? No! He must die and must take full blame.
This certainly sounds like a pretty terrible person, but other than the under defined "commits detestable sins", I would not say that it seems punishable by death. But then again, I suppose death is your main option when you don't have institutional prisons.

In any case, you can tell from the length of his example that Ezekiel is preaching a pretty radical idea when he says that only the guilty person deserves to be punished. However, as part of making his point, Ezekiel seems to fall back upon the simplistic idea prominent in the histories that the righteous will be rewarded and the wicked punished. However, that black and white vision is tempered by the idea that an individual can turn away from sin and back to righteousness and have his past sins forgotten. Of course, that sword cuts both ways: righteous people who turn wicked will have all their good deeds forgotten.

Ezekiel also illustrates the transition from group culpability to individual culpability.
Therefore, I will judge each of you, O people of Israel, according to your actions, says the Sovereign Lord.
It makes sense that individual responsibility would take root once the people were separated from their kingdom and the temple. Without centralized religious and government institutions to enforce behavior, it is much harder to accept the idea of group or cross generational responsibility for sins.

The rest of the days reading is a funeral strong. The section header added by the translators implies that it's a funeral song for Israel's kings.

New Testament

A description of temple ceremonies and the limited access to the innermost room of the temple, the Most Holy Place, is followed by a declaration of the inadequacy of that system.

Psalms and Proverbs

Sound advice: Don't abandon your friends (or your parents' friends). They may be able to help you when your family is too far away to help.