Pointing the Finger of Blame: Ezekiel 18 (@Seeking1st)

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Pixaby, public domain

 

 

Pointing the finger of blame

As the UK gets nearer to another General Election the political jostling for advantage at the polls involves much pointing the finger of blame. It’s natural to blame others when things go wrong and much easier than accepting collective or individual responsibility.

Holding people of the past responsible for suffering now often makes historical sense.

In the prophet Ezekiel’s time the fact that he and others of his generation lived in exile was understood to be the result of a former generation’s evil ways. A well known proverb of the time, quoted in Ezekiel 18: 1 was

“The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”

It is true that the way one generation behaves has profound consequences on their children and grandchildren.  One of those consequences can be the temptation to hide behind the mistakes of others and say, ‘it was their fault, not mine’ and either keep on angrily pointing the finger of blame or retreat into apathetic victim-hood as if we are helpless now.

 Blaming God

Some of the people around Ezekiel pointed the finger of blame for the people’s suffering firmly at God, saying,

“The way of the Lord is unfair.” (Ezekiel 18: 25).

This even though the people had been warned over and over again of the destructive consequences of their wrongdoing and turning away from God.

God’s response was to say, take a look at yourselves,

“Is it not your ways that are unfair?”

We cannot change the past, but can change how we react to its consequences.

How much of what we choose to share on social media is just delighting in pointing the finger of blame at institutions, government, individuals or political parties? And so feel better about ourselves? Or avoid the responsibility of trying to do something positive to change things? It is so much easier to re-tweet a link to the latest scandal – and say, look how unfair, corrupt or stupid ‘they’ are – it is ‘their fault’.

One of Ezekiel’s messages is that God offers each generation a new start.

A new start depends on making a choice now. We can choose between turning towards God and God’s ways or away from God to our own selfish and oppressive ways. That choice is not the responsibility of a past generation, it is our responsibility now. It is both a collective and an individual responsibility. It is a choice that God will judge. Ezekiel’s challenge to the people of his time is relevant in our time. Instead of blaming the past, or blaming God, we need to look honestly at ourselves and the truths and values by which we live.

The call is to repent (turn around) now

All through the Book of Ezekiel, as in the Bible as a whole, the challenge is to choose to make a break from former destructive patterns and adopt God’s ways, the way of love, mercy and life. This is as relevant to how we choose to vote or influence political policy as it is to all of life.

“Repent and turn from all your transgressions;

otherwise iniquity will be your ruin…

and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit…

Turn then, and live.” (Ezekiel 18: 30 – 32)

 

Image Credit: Pixaby, public domain

About Nancy Wallace

Blogs as Seeker (http://nancysblog-seeker.blogspot.co.uk/). Tweets on Twitter as @Seeking1st. Church of England minister and grandmother, struggling to learn to pray, paint and play.