Ezekiel 18

Talks for Growing Christians

Israel’s False Proverb

Ezekiel 18

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Lesson Number 19

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. Individuals are held accountable for their own sins.
  2. The Lord does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked.

Practical Application

  1. Throw the scale out!


  1. The false and popular proverb stated here in verse 2 of chapter 18, was circulating among the Jewish people both in Babylon and in Jerusalem during the time Ezekiel was ministering the Word of the Lord to the captives in Babylon. What was meant by the sour grapes of the proverb?
  2. God refutes the false proverb by giving three examples to establish three principles. In verses 5-9, an example is given of a righteous man who does right. In verses 10-13, an example is given of a wicked son of a righteous father. In verses 14-19, an example is given of a righteous son of a wicked father. What is the principle God is establishing in each case?
  3. In verses 21-32 of this chapter, the terms life and death refer to physical life and physical death, not eternal life and death. The context here is that the Jewish people had turned away from ____ ______ and were facing physical death at the hands of the _______________.
  4. God does provide a way of escape. How could the House of Israel escape? See verses 27 and 30-32.


  1. In the false proverb, the sour grapes referred to the bad attitude of the people of Jerusalem and Judah - that they were not to blame for the sad conditions they found themselves. Both Jeremiah and Ezekiel refute the false proverb, and continued to declare that the sins of the people had gone beyond the point of no return and that Jerusalem would not be saved from God’s judgment.
  2. The principles given in the three examples are: 1. The righteous man would live. 2. The wicked son would die for his sins and the righteousness of his father would not help him. 3. The wicked father would die for his iniquity and the son would live because of his righteousness. These principles are summarized in verse 20, and the overall truth is that individuals are held accountable for their own sins.
  3. The Jewish people had turned away from the Lord and were facing physical death at the hands of the Babylonians. It was because of their own sins and breaking of God’s covenant that God was using the Babylonians as His rod and ax of discipline.
  4. In verses 27 and 30-32, the Lord makes it clear that Israel’s way of escape was for them to turn from their wicked ways, repent, and have a new heart and spirit.


  1. How do we know that the life and death issues in verses 21-32 refer to physical and not eternal life and death? Consider the importance of context not only in this portion of scripture, but as an overall hermeneutical principle.


  1. When you are sharing the good news of the Gospel, do you remember not only to emphasize the eternal penalty of sin and the free offer of forgiveness because of the finished work of Christ on the cross, but also the truth that God takes no pleasure in the eternal death of anyone and that it is His will that all be saved?

Key Verses

  • “But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die.” Ezekiel 18:21
  • “For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies, says the Lord God. Therefore turn and live.” Ezekiel 18: 32

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