2021-7-27

以西结书 Ezekiel 18:1-32 (Scroll down for English)

  刚到美国不久,就听到保险广告不断重复一个词:“无过”。(No fault)很过了些日子才弄明白,原来,“无过”保险,好像是出了交通意外,不必追究谁是对错,反正我没错,全是你错他错政府的错社会的错妖怪幽灵的外星人的错。想不到,原来二千五百年前的以色列,就已经天才地、创造性地、全面地发展出一套“无过”的前卫理论:“父亲吃了酸葡萄,儿子的牙酸倒了。”这说法传到神的耳中,神质疑说:“你们在以色列地怎么用这俗语?”(2)

  以色列的“酸葡萄”理论与伊索寓言,不是同一个等级。以色列酸葡萄理论其实是争辩说:我行为固然恶劣可憎,心中无神目中无人,但这可不是我的错,因为我爹就这德行,所以我也成了流氓痞子。怎么着嘛?差不多同时期的中国孔圣人还在咧咧“吾日三省吾身”,以色列人已经弯道超车在推崇“无过”了。再早些时的以色列所罗门王有一句著名的睿语:“日光之下并无新事。”(传1:9)信焉。

  本章5-9节与10-13节是公义、正直、合理与行恶的对比,前者“按诚实行事,这人是公义的,必定存活”,神说;后者则“行这一切可憎的事,必要死亡,他的罪必归到他身上”。神的公义行出来,就是要赏善罚恶,罪人无论如何自称“无过”,无论如何推搪,都逃不脱神的公义审判。但神也为罪人设立了通往存活的门。“但恶人若回头离开所作的一切罪恶,谨守我一切的律例,行正直与合理的事,他必定存活,不致死亡。他所犯的一切罪过都不被记念,因所行的义,他必存活。”(21-22)

  和合本略去了21节起首的“但”字。这“但”字,承先启后,神在这里石破天惊地作了一个与恶人的灭亡回然不同的宣告:离弃罪恶,既往不咎。神又是怜悯的神,“主耶和华说,恶人死亡,岂是我喜悦的吗?不是喜悦他回头离开所行的道存活吗?”(23)随后他又说,“我不喜悦那死人之死,所以你们当回头而存活。”(32)

  生命和灭亡,两条路,铺陈在以色列人面前。可惜心硬的以色列人选择的是一意孤行,在离弃神的路上越走越远,至终国破、被掳、二千年磨难、也不愿回头而存活,换取哭泣先知耶利米的千古一哀:“先前满有人民的城,现在何竟独坐。先前在列国中为大的,现在竟如寡妇。先前在诸省中为王后的,现在成为进贡的。”(哀1:1)

  历史岂不是一面镜子么?两点岂不成为一条直线么?数不清的数据搜集,岂不可靠地预测将来的行为么?美国本是蒙神恩眷的地土,人民因为敬畏神而大受祝福。不过,今天的美国,令人担忧地选择走离弃神的路,就像二千多年前的以色列一样。我们当中许多人,历尽艰辛来到这片蒙福的地土,成家立室生儿育女,却不知这片地土,是否会在神公义的烈怒中越发颤抖。所以,刻不容缓,我们

  1. 在祷告中,建立我们自己的家庭为敬畏神的单位,作育我们的下一代,成长为跟随主的一代,而不是以“自由”的名义让他们自生自灭
  2. 为这个国度祷告,为掌权的、在位的祷告,为万人祷告,求神怜悯
  3. 为教会祷告,为我们自己祷告,让我们成为福音的流通管道,把主耶稣的救恩传给人。在这时代,人们需要主。

Ezekiel 18:1-32

  Before long after setting feet on the U.S. soil the term “no fault” sounded loud from the advertisements for insurance. In time it gradually came to an understanding that the so-called “no fault” seemed to be promoting such a concept, that regardless of what one did to cause traffic accidents, there was no fault to the insured, it would all be the other guys’ fault, whoever these guys were. And out of our imagination, the people of Israel came up with a “no fault” system, “The fathers eat sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” Upon hearing this God questioned, “What do you people mean by quoting this proverb about the land of Israel?” (1)

  This proverb is nowhere comparable to that of the Sour Grapes in Aesop’s Fables. The proverb populated among the Israel people reflected such a mindset, that they indeed were sinners and went astray, but they insisted that they were no fault, because their fathers lived like this, and therefore they were brought up to be like their fathers. In the same historical period, Confucius the Chinese educator advised that he self-examine himself three times a day to check and see if he had done something indecent earlier the day, the people of Israel promoted “no fault” some thousands of miles away.

  Verses 5-9 and 10-13 lay the contrasts of uprightness and evil, the former “follows my decrees and faithfully keeps my laws. That man is righteous; he will surely live, declares the Sovereign LORD.” As for the latter, “Because he has done all these detestable things, he will surely be put to death and his blood will be on his own head.” The righteous God will reward the righteous and punish the evil, sinners cannot escape God’s judgment by blabbing “no fault”. Out of his righteous harshness, however, God graciously gives a way out, “But if a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die. None of the offenses he has committed will be remembered against him. Because of the righteous things he has done, he will live.” (21-22) God reinstates that he is a God of mercy. He calls sinners, “For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!”

  Life or death, two directions and two paths were laid before Israel, but the harden hearted people chose to stay on their downward way. Far away they went their own way from the LORD their God, finally the nation was conquered by their enemies, people were captured and exiled. They so refused to repent and live as God advised that the misery was mourned by Jeremiah the weeping prophet. “How deserted lies the city, once so full of people! How like a widow is she, who once was great among the nations! She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave.” (Lamentations 1:1)

  Isn’t history a mirror for today? Doesn’t two points form a straight line? Wouldn’t sufficient data forecasts future behaviors dependably? America used to be the land of God’s grace. But we have observed that detouring from God’s righteousness American is going her own way today like Israel two some thousand years ago. Many of us at GCBC tried hard to come to this land of opportunities and well established. We have built up families and careers, but now we worry about that America will be subject to the wrath of God because of the up-roaring sinfulness. Let’s be alert. We 

  1. Build up our families as devoted units to edify our next generations, teach them to fear God and keep his commandments, rather than let them go in the name of “freedom”
  2. Pray for America, pray for the leaders of the different layers, and the people around us. May God’s compassion come.
  3. Pray for the Church and ourselves, pray that God empower us and make us the channel of the gospel of Christ Jesus. People need the Lord in time like this.

— David Yip

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