It could be vividly recalled that at the beginning of our October series, tecsthought.com traced the development of the proverb ( The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge) to Ezekiel’s contemporaries. Therefore, in an attempt to address the untold effects of the proverb towards our modern day Christians, we must go back to the root, how God Himself addressed this problem of transgenerational retribution through the prophet Ezekiel.
I wish to express the clarification that God Himself declared that this proverb will no longer be quoted in Israel. He further affirmed “All life is in my hands, the life of the parent and the life of the child is mine. The lives of both are in my hands, so the one who sins will die”.(Ezekiel 18:3-4). Lending credence to this statement, God assures the exiled community that their future lies in their hands and not in this network of fatalistic relationships, whereby we ascribe the punishment meant for the father unto the son.
Again, the sacral law of Exodus 20:5, which was revealed in our last week edition is balanced out with a statement of the lord’s infinite grace in Exodus 20:6. Therefore, the unstated assumption here is the assurance of the persistency of the covenant in spite of human sinfulness. In other words, according to sacral law, a person can truly suffer for the sins of the ancestors, but God assures that on the basis of his infinite love and mercy, such a person can strike out on a new course of obedience to God and live. Permit me therefore to include the position of Emmanuel Austine as supported by Asogwa Spunky in our last edition, that a son who consciously enjoys what comes from the atrocities commited by his father will need to expect that the punishment for the atrocities will befall him, whether or not he actively took part in the atrocities. To accept and enjoy the ends of the atrocities is a tacit involvement in the act and one should not wonder, if one believes in the concept of retributive justice (which is not alien to the God of the Bible), that such a person will get the pay for his involvement in the atrocity, even if tacitely. Emmanuel therefore maintained that each should enquire into what historical injustice underlies what one views as one’s success and make immediate moves to address the injustice. If where we are living in, as our house was what our father snatched away from his younger brother or if the car I am driving is what my mother bought with the money meant to take care of pensioniers, I should not wonder when nemesis befall me, when I insist on not questioning the injustice I benefit from. If we are able to address this, then we can consider Ezek.18 as an oracle of salvation, a call to shake off the entanglements of past generations and to embark on a new course of action for life. It is precisely in Ezk.18:3-29 that God counters the application of the proverb, contradict the principle of transgenerational retribution and compose the principle of individual responsibility. This scriptural passage expresses the certainty that a righteous son must not suffer for the sins of unrighteous forbear whereas, any son who engages in the general sense of social unrighteousness like shedding of human blood, idolatory, Adultery, oppression of the poor and needy, robber and usury, will not live, irrespective of the moral life of his or her forbear. In the simplest words; good children of bad parents would live, while bad children of good parents would die. And anyone who turns from his evil ways would live.
In conclusion, lets us denounce Ezekiel’s contemporaries who are abusing the ancient sense of group solidarity by ignoring the reality of their own contribution to the future of the nation. This is predicated on the fact that our future can be safe guarded, not by submitting to a mood of hopelessness, not by a denial of responsibility for one’s life, but by voluntarily adopting the lord’s structures of righteousness and social justice.
As regards the nature of our personal, family or national histories of disaster, I wish to express the confidence that we are the author of our histories. If our histories are bad, it is not solely due to any inherent, independent, generative powers that we have inherited from our fore-fathers. The only way to disrespect the design of our terrible histories and embrace a promising future is to whole heartedly and voluntarily reject idolatory in its different presentations and uphold actions that promote peace, fraternal love and care. Hence the ball is on our court. But as to why the righteous still experience suffering in this world, shall be the conclusion of our October editon in tecsthought series. Keep posted!!!