NEVER SAY THAT AGAIN
There is a very provocative Scriptural reference in Ezekiel. Chapter 18, verses 1-3. The Jews are in captivity. In that dilemma a proverb is getting a big play. “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, but the children’s teeth are set on edge.” The children are blaming the parents for their slavery.
The prophet Ezekiel affirms, “As the Lord thy God liveth, Never Say That Again.” (Moffatt’s translation) It was only partially true. Sometime the children had to accept responsibility for their own attitudes and actions.
In understanding the Bible its important to grasp the style of writing that was common in antiquity. The use of parables. (The Prodigal Son.; the use of mythology (Oedipus, Narcissist); the use of proverbs (Ezekiel 1:1-3)
The three are not the message. They contain the message. For example, the parable of the Garden of Eden story. The message is the truth that mankind (all of us) have the potential of choice. We are NOT robots. Being human means, we can choose our behavior. We also have the potential of compensation.
This account sets a precedent. Proverbs are tid-bits of philosophy that have only a small amount of truth. For example: When in Rome. Or, An apple a day. Or, The grass is always greener. Or, Absence makes the heart. Or, It is not the gift.
To all these, Ezekiel would say, “Never Say Them Again.”
Let’s examine two other commonly used proverbs.
LIFE BEGINS AT FORTY. Using that adage (proverb) is common for those under forty. It is often used to encourage hope and anticipation. “My life will really turn around when I’m forty.”
Those of us over forty look back at it with regret that we didn’t make more of it. Or, with appreciation of how things changed for the positive.
In either case, the proverb was only partially true. A related adage seems more appropriate. “This is the first day of the rest of your life.” Life begins afresh with the dawning of each day. Think of the myriad of opportunities, January 1, Birthday, Anniversary, Birth of children, new days, etc.
To appreciate the potential of each day is the challenge. Elizabeth Barrett Browning said it correctly. “Earth’s crammed with heaven and every common bush aflame with God. But only those who see take off their shoes. The rest sit around plucking blackberries.”
Ezekiel would certainly say, “Say that again.”
Think of Rose Kennedy. She had every right to succumb to the fate of fatalism. Her eldest son was killed in a plane crash. Her daughter was mentally ill.
Her son, John, was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Her son, Robert, was killed in L.A. Her husband was a noted philanderer.
A few years ago she was interviewed on T.V. When asked how she could survive all the personal problems, she looked at the interviewer, Merv Griffin, with fire in her eyes. She said, “I refuse to be vanquished.”
SEEING IS BELIEVING. Scientists only believe that which is provable under a microscope. They accept only those things that are empirically viable.
Ezekiel would say that is not always true. Never say that again. What about love, compassion, faith, hope or insight. In themselves they cannot be seen. The reverse is more likely to be true: Believing is seeing.
A belief in God is not scientifically provable. Yet, we affirm it. So did Joan of Arc. Born in 1412, she was burned at the stake at age nineteen.
She heard voices and believed God spoke to her. The King, Charles VII, who condemned her, said, “Why doesn’t God speak to me.?” St. Joan reportedly said, “He does, you just don’t listen.” LET US BELIEVE. BELIEVING IS SEEING.
THE LOVE OF GOD
The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell. It goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the lowest hell. Were every stalk on earth a quill and every man a scribe by trade. Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made, To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry, Nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky. O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure the saints and angels song.
Amen. Selah. So be it.