The sixteenth chapter of Ezekiel is noted for the description of how the Lord took Israel (metaphorically depicted as a young girl) and provided for that nation, only to have the nation turn their back on God and commit terrible abominations. However, at the end of the chapter the Lord says, “Nevertheless I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. . . . . . that you may remember and be ashamed, and never open your mouth anymore because of your shame, when I provide you an atonement for all you have done,” (my emphasis) Here the Lord speaks of a future everlasting covenant with Israel. If you have been taught that the Church has replaced Israel, you might want to look at this verse, and many others.
The Lord emphasizes personal responsibility in Ezekiel chapter eighteen. He told the nation Israel that they would no longer use the proverb, “The father eats sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” He reiterates the idea of personal responsibility. “When a righteous [man] turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies.” “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. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live.” Here the Lord spoke of personal responsibility and personal salvation.
God does not change. He is extremely gracious to us in this day, and He was gracious to the Children of Israel long ago. The difference is that we Gentiles are not descendants of Israel, and yet He has included us in His great plan.
The Lord continues, “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.” Again, the statements of the Lord (new heart and new spirit) sound as though they came from the New Testament. God does not and has not changed. Remember, when the salvation of Jesus was taught in the First Century, it was taught from the Old Testament. The did not have the New Testament. Lastly, the Lord wants all to live and none to die. “For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord GOD. “Therefore turn and live!”
Repentance and Grace are not limited to the New Testament. God has always desired repentance from sin and He has always been gracious. Praise His name, under the New Testament covenant sealed with the blood of Jesus the Anointed One, we Gentiles may receive that same mercy and grace. We don’t have to do animal sacrifices for atonement, because it was all taken care of by Jesus. May His name be praised forever!
(All quotes are from the New King James Version)