2 Chr. 5, Ezek. 18-19, Luke 4
2 Chr. 5
Reuben’s Descendants and genealogy.
I remember when I had visited a Hari Krishna temple for a site observation. As I entered I noticed a sign that proclaimed that both scripture and the early church taught Reincarnation. It was intriguing, but as I pass through the wisdom of Ezekiel I have found a prooftext to debunk the claim.
As for the early church comment, i have studied Origin and found that this comment refers to his explanation of how souls became trapped into material bodies upon creation. Simply put, it was mere imagitive thinking on Origins part, and not biblical teaching. An attempt to fill the gaps, not exegesis scripture.
The reincarnation prooftext comes from Ezek. 18. Here the Prophet discusses the affect of one’s families sin upon their lives and judgement:
“The person who sins is the one who will die. A son won’t suffer punishment for the father’s iniquity, and a father won’t suffer punishment for the son’s iniquity.” (Ezek. 18:20).
Here we see ownership of one’s sins. It does not generationally carry over as some eastern traditions argue. No generation is judged for the sins of previous ones. the prooftext goes further:
“Now if the wicked person turns from all the sins he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is just and right, he will certainly live; he will not die. None of the transgressions he has committed will be held against him. He will live because of the righteousness he has practiced.” (vv. 21-22).
Again we see personal ownership of sins. Even more, we find forgiveness in repentance. Stored personal sin may find cleansing in the simplicity of turning in repentance. Judgement is weighed against unrepented sin, yet if one turns away, judgement is stayed.
So the text refutes any illusion of reincarnation and generational sin. Man is responsible solely to the sins he commits in his lifetime, and may find forgiveness in turning from such sin.
“Throw off all the transgressions you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.” (vv 31).
Within Ezek. 19 we find a lament, or a funeral chant which was usually reserved for the death of a leader. We find within the hebrew scriptures several examples of laments used in sarcasm.
Here Ezekiel uses such a lament to discuss the seventh cause of Judah’s fall: it’s spiritual death. Chapter 19 contains two laments (Lion and the Vine), written in the meter qinah (3 beats, 2 beats). Lamentations was also written in this meter.
Vv. 1-9 is a lament for the king, while vv. 10-14 was for the end of the kingdom.
Within Luke 4 we find the passage where Jesus, after receiving baptism in the Jordan, enters the wilderness for 40 days. Here he finds himself tempted by the devil for 40 days, and he fasts intensely (vv. 40). The lack of any parallels in Greco-Roman literature leads us to conclude that the early-church would not simply invent the occurence, but instead have recorded an actual event.
As for not eating anything for 40 days, it is clearly possible for Jesus, however Luke’s language may mean he simply ate little and severely fast. It is the same type of language used to describe John the Baptist’ lifestyle in Mt. 11:18 (which did not mean an abstinence from food).
Two more points on the passage:
1) “Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.” (vv. 8). Jesus quotes this from Dt. 6:13, and we may use it in conjection with other passages as a prooftext for Jesus divinity. Jesus is telling Satan that only God could be worshiped, however in Mt. 8:2, Jesus allows a leper to worship him. In Jn. 20:28, Jesus allows a disciple to offer worship to him (“Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”). Finally, Jesus allows an angel to worship him (“Let all God’s angels worship him.” Heb 1:6).
These examples of the worship of Jesus alongside Lk 8 make a strong cause for Jesus divinity. Besides the ‘I AM’ claims, and the incidence before the sanhedrin (Lk 22:66-71, “You say that I am,”), this claim of divinity is clear. A simple prophet, as some claim Jesus to be, would not make the mistake of receiving worship.
2) I personally enjoy these passages because Jesus experiences the fullness of temptation. The Son opts to set aside the usage of His divine attributes to further experience humanity. How greatly our God experienced our daily sufferings! We have a God who clearly understands our hurt and pain, not merely because he made us, but because he walked within our humanity. Another wonder of the incarnation and brillance of God, that understanding the finite of our human mental capacities, he walks before us in human form, and shares such human sufferings. Surely we have an approachable and loving God. One need only read this chapter where he experiences the fullness of man’s suffering, and in his free will and love, puts aside his divine attributes to share in our sufferings.