Wednesday, April 20, 2016
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“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands. Exodus 20:4-6(NLT)
Most people consider placing judgment for sins done by parents on the children, grandchildren, and, even great-grandchildren as being somewhat unfair on God’s part. However, when you stack that against the thousand generations of “unfailing love” (covenant blessings) for the obedient, you rarely get a lifted eyebrow.
In the reality of interpretation department – the verse actually means that the effects of the sins affect generations. A drunk in the family can cause bankruptcy which may take the family generations to dig out from under. Same with being the child of a murderer, and trying to have a decent reputation.
But using this verse to blame God for stuff we bring on ourselves is very convenient!
It’s pretty typical of human nature that, when things are going well, and we are getting what we want – well, it’s just fine and dandy! But if we get taken to the woodshed (and God really only does that when we’ve been especially bratty), we consider the system to be rigged and we are the poor victim; we sing our lament: God, how could you do that to me; how can you be so unfair?
Well, ain’t life hard!
Now consider the way God really does business with his human children:
The ratio here between God handing out disciplinary judgment and God showering undeserved blessings on us is a whopping 4/1000, or eighty years (3-4 generations) of judgment compared to 20,000 years (1,000 generations) of blessing.
Actually…it’s an even wider gap than that, because the 3-4 generations is specific, while the number 1,000 is sometimes interpreted as without ceasing. So God could be talking about eighty years versus eternity!
Listen to what one of God’s choicest children said about all that:
Put your hope in the Lord. Travel steadily along his path. He will honor you by giving you the land. You will see the wicked destroyed. I have seen wicked and people flourishing like a tree in its native soil. But when I looked again, they were gone! Though I searched for them, I could not find them! Look at those who are honest and good, for a wonderful future awaits those who love peace. But the rebellious will be destroyed; they have no future. Psalm 37:34-38 (NLT)
The bedrock reality of the comparison of God’s judgment and blessing is that God is much more willing to bless his children than curse them. Truth be told, the Father is rooting for our best; I’ve seen his refrigerator door, and your pictures are all over it!