Question:

Is Ezekiel 14:12-23 a passage about these men being saved by their own righteousness? Were they perfect so they could save themselves, apart from God's grace, since "all have sinned"? And is an inference of eternal salvation valid from this passage?

I ask this because I'm convinced that you can crush this solid food (I Corinthians 3:2; Hebrews 5:12-14) for this babe.

Answer:

"Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, 'Son of man, if a country sins against Me by committing unfaithfulness, and I stretch out My hand against it, destroy its supply of bread, send famine against it and cut off from it both man and beast, even though these three men, Noah, Daniel and Job were in its midst, by their own righteousness they could only deliver themselves,' declares the Lord GOD. 'If I were to cause wild beasts to pass through the land and they depopulated it, and it became desolate so that no one would pass through it because of the beasts, though these three men were in its midst, as I live,' declares the Lord GOD, 'they could not deliver either their sons or their daughters. They alone would be delivered, but the country would be desolate. Or if I should bring a sword on that country and say, 'Let the sword pass through the country and cut off man and beast from it,' even though these three men were in its midst, as I live,' declares the Lord GOD, 'they could not deliver either their sons or their daughters, but they alone would be delivered. Or if I should send a plague against that country and pour out My wrath in blood on it to cut off man and beast from it, even though Noah, Daniel and Job were in its midst, as I live,' declares the Lord GOD, 'they could not deliver either their son or their daughter. They would deliver only themselves by their righteousness'" (Ezekiel 14:12-20).

It is a mistake to take a word and assume that it holds the same definition in every place it is used. In this passage, people are mentioned as being delivered or saved, but saved from what?

God is talking about destroying Judah. He is so determined to punish the country that He declares that it would not matter if famous righteous people from the past were there to plead with God not to destroy Judah -- it was going to happen anyway. But like God's discussion with Abraham (Genesis 18:22-32), God is not uncaring about those who are trying to do His will. He states that while the nation as a whole would be destroyed, he will spare the righteous because they doing what is right. Thus, they are being saved from destruction, not from sin.

This does not eliminate God's grace. God did not have to spare these people. It is His gift to them because God recognizes their efforts.

By the way, Noah, Daniel, and Job were declared to be righteous by God not because they are perfect (or sinless) but because they strived to obey God.

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