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Today's Study

Ezekiel 21:4: Judgment for Both the Righteous and the Wicked?

How could the Lord indiscriminately send judgment on both the righteous and the wicked when in Ezekiel 18:1-20 he had stated that each person would be responsible for his or her own sin? Isn't this a reversal of policy?

Ezekiel 18 focuses on the responsibility of the individual for individual guilt. That is one side of the coin. But the Bible also recognizes the reality of the concept of corporate responsibility when it comes to accounting for the effect of some individual sins. The case of Achan in Joshua 7:1-26 is the best example of corporate solidarity, for when Achan sinned, it was said that all Israel had sinned as well.

We can understand how one traitor can sell a whole army into major trouble, but we forget how the effects of some sins fall on whole communities, nations or assemblies of persons. In the case in Ezekiel 21, the sword would cut both the righteous and the wicked. That is because in war often both the good and the bad fall. But that was not to say that everyone was individually guilty; no, it was the effect that reached and impacted all.

Ezekiel's main purpose here was to alarm sinners, who were boasting of their security; but the distinction between the righteous and the wicked must not be thought of as being no longer in existence. It was. The fact remained, however, that the sword would not be put back into the scabbard until everything that had been predicted had been accomplished. The wicked were guilty, but many people, including some righteous, would suffer because of the sins of the wicked.