Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ez 18

18:32. It's interesting that "the house of Israel" (18:29) complains about something in the teaching of this chapter (18:25), in particular, the case of the righteous man who "turns away from his righteousness" (18:24), who, God says through Ezekiel, "will die." Why so? is one question, and how so, another, and for what, a third.

Why so, for the sins committed by turning away from it. Plus one, including one, in particular one, that stems from turning away from righteousness: "treachery" (18:24).

Perhaps the house of Israel imagines two piles, two sets, one of their righteous deeds, and another, of sins committed, and says that God's way is not right because the first pile is ignored ("will not be remembered," 24) when the righteous man "turns away from his righteousness." Perhaps they think it should be balanced somehow, the sets weighed comparatively. Ha! Not so. Not only are they not summable together like an accountant's credits and debits, but it is treachery to sin.

The treachery is to turn from the good. The relationship between righteousness and life is generative: when there is righteousness, it is not alone, having no effect. It brings life. Therefore to turn from righteousness is also to turn from the life which it brings. That's treachery. That's unplugging from a "live" source, unplugging the life support, turning away from life as well as from righteousness. Sin doesn't subtract from righteousness, it ruins it.

If that is true, that we cannot mix sin and righteousness like a sum of positive and negative numbers, then that answers the complaint. How so, then, is it true that the soul who sins dies? The soul who sins dies in the same way that the soul who turns from all his sins lives. The relationship between righteousness and life is generative. Life ensues from that. There is only one thing that righteousness brings, whenever it occurs: life! whatever point it occurs notwithstanding.

Again the complaint (18:29), this time perhaps about this side of the coin. Isn't it unfair that a person's transgressions in this case "will not be remembered" (18:22)? Again, the desire for a totaling might be behind the house of Israel's complaint. In this case, what is complained against is how turning from wickedness saves the life. They wanted to count the wickedness against the turning from wickedness, as if wickedness could veto the life.

We don't get to keep our former righteousness to balance to current sins. We aren't forced to keep our former sins as if they veto today's righteousness and life. That's quite an invitation, especially in light of such complaining.

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