Why visit iniquity? ∙
I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren; the entire family is affected – even children in the third and fourth generations. Exodus 34:7
4 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.
5 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.
6 But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.
DNA or deoxyribonucleic acid contains the instructions necessary for life. It is a central information storage system that includes all the instructions our bodies need to develop, survive, and reproduce. DNA carries and transmits the hereditary genetic instructions from parents to their offspring.
The double helix structure of DNA was discovered by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953. The DNA structure can be likened to a twisted ladder are double helix.
In the same way that the human body is uniquely wired by DNA with specific physical traits, so our souls are programmed with a “spiritual DNA.” Spiritual DNA contains the blueprint and instructions for each person, who you are, and what you are to do. Because our parents are fallen and contaminated by sin, so are we.
Spiritual DNA contains the propensity to sin. Regrettably, children repeat the sins of their parents. Under the law of Moses, sin has consequences.
Numbers 14:18 The LORD is slow to anger and filled with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. But he does not excuse the guilty. He lays the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected – even children in the third and fourth generations.
The purpose of this blunt, harsh language is to affirm the Father’s right to judge as He sees fit. There seems little reason to try to make this language seem less threatening (Timothy R. Ashley). Each individual stands or falls based upon what they have done.
Deuteronomy 24:16 Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.
“When God speaks, do we hear a forgiving or demanding Father, intimate or distant Friend, patient or intolerant Teacher, gentle or angry Guide, understanding or insensitive Counselor, generous or reluctant Provider, or a faithful or inconsistent Sustainer?” (Stanley)
REFLECT & PRAY
Psalms 85:10 Unfailing love and truth have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed!
In the Father seeming opposites are in perfect balance: mercy and justice, punishment and forgiveness.
Father thank You that you are loving and filled with mercy and kindness. You have flexed your mighty arm to provide forgiveness for every kind of sin and rebellion. Thank you for the magnificent opportunities You have provided. May I take full advantage of all that You have graciously made available.
Exodus 34:7 I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren; the entire family is affected – even children in the third and fourth generations.
There’s a great deal of misunderstanding surrounding this passage. It does not state that the Father punishes an innocent generation for the sins of a previous generation.
Rather, this repeated warning indicates that the Father will deal with and punish successive generations for committing the same sins they learned from their parents. The fact that previous generations modeled sinful behavior does not let the current generation off the hook. “In other words, God will not say, ‘I won’t punish this generation for what they are doing to break my covenant because, after all, they merely learned it from their parents who did it too’” (Douglas K. Stuart).
Instead, if people continue to do the same type of sins that prior generations did, the Father will continue to deal with their dreadful behavior harshly to the third and fourth generation, that is, generation after generation. Each generation, and each
individual is held responsible for their own actions.
But of greatest importance is the fact that this is not where the Father’s heart is at all. Rather, He desires to show hesed, lovingkindness, loyal love to “a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
The nation of Israel was bound by the agreed-upon agreements of the law of Moses. They would be blessed for obedience and disobedience would unleash its sanctions. The Father spelled out in no uncertain terms that His real desire is “to have his people remain loyal forever so that he might, in turn, show them the rich blessings of his resulting loyalty to them (Douglas K. Stuart).
It is reminiscent of the poignant, mournful words of the Lord Jesus Christ as He approached Jerusalem for the final time before His crucifixion.
34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.
35 And now, look, your house is abandoned. And you will never see me again until you say, “Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD!”
The nation of Israel was given the highest privilege imaginable. They were the only people on planet Earth to have a contractual, committed relationship with the Father, the living God. They accepted the contract, but rather than enjoying its benefits, they suffered its liabilities.
This is evocative of the English proverb, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” Simply stated you can provide and offer people the most magnificent opportunity possible, but you cannot make them take it if they do not want to.
15 LORD, look down from heaven; look from your holy, glorious home, and see us. . ..
16 Surely you are still our Father . . . You are our Redeemer from ages past.