(Don't Blame Your Parents)

Don't Blame Your Parents

Ezekiel 18:1-4, 30-32; Luke 13: 22-35

A small boy tried to show his father a scratch on his finger.
Finally, after repeated attempts to gain his father's attention, the father stop reading and said impatiently,
"Well, I can't do anything about it, can I?"

"Yes, Daddy," his small son said.
"You could have said, ' Oh!' "

Complaining and blaming come easy.
In exile, Israel blamed their suffering on their parent's sins.
Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

The writer of the Book of Deuteronomy said the problems of his generation were the result
of the sins of the previous generation.
The author would be very surprised to be called a Freudian.
Freud believed that the sins of the parents are paid for in the lives of the children.
It was a popular belief in Old Testament times and was summarize in a proverb:
"The fathers have eaten sour grapes and their children's teeth are set on edge."

That means the misery of the present is punishment for the sins of the past.
That is the Deuteronomic view of history.
It is ours also to the extent that we blame those who have gone before us for the trouble we face
in our time and in our personal lives.

There is another way.
A hundred years after the Book of Deuteronomy was written, Ezekiel came along with this liberating news:
"The word of the Lord came to me again: 'What do you mean by repeating this proverb...
the fathers have eaten sour grapes, and children's teeth are set on edge' ?
As I live, says the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel
." (Ezekiel 18: 1-4)

Ezekiel is saying to his generation and to ours, the present is your responsibility.
He could see that his generation's fixation on the past and its sins drew their attention away from
the present and its opportunities.
His generation figured they were stuck with the way things were in their lives because it was
a punishment for the way their fathers had lived.
Because their fathers had eaten sour grapes, and their teeth were set on edge.
Ezekiel will have none of this.

The past shapes the present, but it does not determine the present.
The past presents the agenda for the present, but it doesn't decide what is going to happen to it.

That is what Ezekiel is saying. The important question is: What are you going to do now with the present that is given you?

If a man came to Ezekiel and told him disagreeable things about his life, such as, how he had
been raised, and how his parents had made so many mistakes with him,
and how he had been deprived of the benefits that had been a blessing to other people's lives,
and how, as a result, he now lived a pretty mixed up adult life.

Ezekiel would have replied: "So you are a man with lousy parents, a deprived childhood,
and a mixed up adult life.
Now, what are you going to do with it?
The past may explain you, but it doesn't excuse you
."

You are free only when you can accept the past for what it is and only when you can accept your parents
for who they were -- and let it be.
So take responsibility for your own present.
"So then everyone of us shall give account of himself unto God."
(Romans 14: 12)

In Luke 13 Jesus is on a hill overlooking Jerusalem.
He knows what is going to happen to Jerusalem, and He knows it could have been different, so he weeps.
Jerusalem is repeating the sins of its fathers. Life can always be different.
That's the meaning of saying the future is a gift from God.
It doesn't depend on us.
All we have to do is choose it when He offers it to us.

Life is not tragic because things are stacked up against us in this life.
That's the view in Deuteronomy, which says the die is cast in our childhood or by our parents
or by our environment or by something outside of us.
The prophetic view is exemplified by Ezekiel and by Jesus that the future is always open,
and the only tragedy in this life is that we don't choose wisely.
Luke 13: 34: "And ye would not..." A person might think that there is no way out.
They might think that they are trapped, and they just have to live out their destiny.
That is not so!

God's Word says that He will provide a way out.
There is always a way out.
Do you want a way out -- then trust in God!
It can be different!

Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White