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23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith Adonia Yahweh: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?
Israel complained they were being punished for their fathers' sins, and they could quote certain statements of God Himself that seemed to support them, as that He was destroying Jerusalem because of the blood that Manasseh had shed fifty years before (2 Kgs. 24:3); and that He would-
"Visit the sins of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations"
The answer is two-fold. First, the nation was being judged as a nation because it continued such sins as Manasseh's. A nation is like an individual. If it continues to sin, it is finally punished for all its past sins. If it repents, those past sins will be forgotten. Similarly, the rest of the quotation about the "sins of the fathers" changes it from injustice to mercy and patience: it is the "third and fourth generation of them that hate Me" that at last receives God's deferred wrath.
Second, national judgments were one thing, and the just suffered in them like the unjust. But in the ultimate eternal judgment-which is the only one that really matters-each individual stands alone, and is rewarded or punished according to his own record.
A righteous Jeremiah or Ezekiel may necessarily suffer in the general calamities with the wicked nation he ministered to, but that was just a passing aspect of the development and training for God's eternal glory. We-
"Must through much tribulation enter the Kingdom" (Acts 14:22),
and that tribulation will be doubly welcomed and accepted with joyful patience, if it is incurred in ministering to God's people.
Bro Growcott - Prophesies in the captivity
24 But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.
This is neither more nor less than the apostolic doctrine that only "he that endureth to the end" shall be saved; and that if any man walk after the flesh, he shall die. A man trusting to the righteousness of ten years (say) and then slackening off into loose and wicked ways, will find at the judgment seat that the righteousness of the first part of his life is not reckoned, but has been cancelled by his lapse.
But this is a different case from the case of a man ordering his life aright before God, and having a slip of some kind, which he deplores and prays forgiveness for, and which he disowns and no longer follows. Ezekiel's words contemplate the case of a man once righteous turning away from his righteousness and "doing according to all the abominations of the wicked." It is not the case of a rectified stumble.
The Christadelphian, Oct 1894. p391-393.