Once I was conducting an afternoon prayer meeting in my wife’s house. There were around 20 people and we started off with worship and prayers. While the prayers were going on, I saw a man in his twenties come in and sit with the others. I had never seen him before, all the others were regular attendees. The scripture portion that God had laid on my heart the previous night while I spent time in prayer was from Ezekiel Chapter 18 and verses 1-4…. The word of the Lord came to me again, saying, “What do you mean when you 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,” says the Lord God, “you shall no longer use this proverb in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine; the soul who sins shall die.
After a couple of believers had prayed, I preached on this topic. I had never preached on these verses before and in the time that led to the meeting, I had wondered why God had given me those scriptures.
There are verses in the book of Exodus where God Almighty tells Moses….
“The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6, 7)
…… visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation! (Even many well-meaning Christians quote this)
But when we come to the book of Ezekiel, God says….no longer shall this be true. It is the soul that sins who will die. The gist of Ezekiel Chapter 18 is that, if the son lives righteously despite his father being wicked, he would not suffer for his father’s sins.
After the meeting was over, I met and talked to the guy who had come to the meeting for the first time. He was a non-Christian, knowing nothing about the Bible, but was going around with a great burden in his heart regarding the grievous sins his parents and his forefathers had committed and always wondering whether he could find salvation, since he was taught from childhood that he would have to suffer for the sins of his parents and forefathers. He told me that, it was God speaking to him. I shared the Gospel with him that day and he left with a remarkable sense of relief and peace was evident on his face.
Isn’t it true that God works in mysterious ways? It was not an advertised meeting, just a few people gathering for prayer and the young man had wandered in to the right place; to be precise, God had guided his steps. And one sermon, just for the soul that was in despair and felt that it was lost. Praise God for his agape love.