What does it mean that God visits the iniquity or the sins of the fathers on the children to the third and forth generation? Are those children doomed spiritually? Are they bound to repeat their parents sins? Will they bear the guilt or the punishment for their parents sins?
Verse 14.18 says, “The LORD is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generations.”
What does that mean? Are those children doomed spiritually? Are they bound to repeat their parents sins? Will they bear the guilt or the punishment for them?
Let’s look at another passage of Scripture:
“The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself” (Ezek. 18.20).
Scripture never contradicts Scripture. So we need to dig a little deeper to understand our passage from Numbers.
It’s my understanding that when the word translated “visited” is used it refers to physical consequences. And children do, often, suffer physical consequences for their parents’ sins.
They may be exposed to horrible lifestyles, suffer physical or sexual abuse, live in poverty, or be neglected in many ways.
Other choices and lifestyles affect children, too. For instance, when parents choose to divorce, the children are tossed back and forth between two households, sometimes put in the middle of arguments, and have limited time with one or both parents. Continue reading →
In verses 42-48 Jesus warned us about a place where, “Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.”
Dr. David Jeremiah, in his book What in the World is Going On?, talks about the two men Satan will use during the Tribulation. These two men are called the Anti-Christ (or the Beast) and the False Prophet. Revelation 19.20 says that at the end of the Tribulation:
“Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.”
Notice these two were cast “alive” into the lake of fire.
Satan himself will also be cast into that lake of fire, but first he will be locked up for 1,000 years. At the end of that 1,000-year time period:
“The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev. 20.10).
Did you get that? 1,000 years later the Beast (Anti-Christ) and the False Prophet are still alive and still being tormented. Dr. Jeremiah quotes Harry Ironside, “The lake of fire is neither annihilation nor purgatorial because it neither annihilates nor purifies these two fallen foes of God and man after a thousand years under judgment.”
The Anti-Christ and the False Prophet are not the only ones in danger of hell’s eternal torment. Jesus warned in this passage that we all are, unless we have dealt with the sin in our lives (Mk. 9.42-48).
But there is only one remedy for sin and that’s the cross of Christ. We can never be good enough on our own to avoid hell’s fury. We can’t be religious enough or do enough good works. Our good works won’t be weighed against our bad. We don’t spend time in purgatory to pay off our sin debt.
We will never get to heaven on our own. The only way is to come to the end of ourselves, recognize that we are sinners, hopeless and helpless, and desperately in need of a Savior.
On Judgment Day, if God was to ask us, “Why should I let you into heaven?,” there is only one right answer. “I believed in what Your Son did for me on the cross. I accepted it by faith and exchanged my sin for His righteousness.”
If we have done that, we don’t need to have any fear about eternity. Instead, we can wait expectantly for the trumpet to sound!
The time is short. Hell is real. We’re all going to live forever. It’s just a matter of where! That should compel us to think soberly about our own relationship with God, and to share the Gospel with everyone we can.
Verse 10.1, “And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying. ‘Make two silver trumpets for yourself; you shall make them of hammered work; you shall use them for calling the congregation ….'”
Trumpets are frequently mentioned in the Bible. They were used here to signal several things: calling the people so Moses could speak to them, calling the leadership, and signaling the time to break camp and move out.
In other places, trumpets were used to call the people to war and to signal other events. But, for us as believers, the greatest trumpet call will be on that day when the church is taken out of the earth and God’s judgment begins …
“[I]n a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15.52).
1 Thessalonians 4.16-17, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God… And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”
The day is coming when we will be called “out of the camp.” That day may be Continue reading →
Sin is disfiguring and highly contagious. Paul warned that we can catch it from others and that it’s better to be thrown into the sea with a weight around our necks than to be a carrier spreading it to others.
Have you exposed yourself to some contagious sins? Are you guilty of spreading some sin to others?
Leprosy! What could God possibly have for us in all the discussion of bright skin, white skin, scales and scabs?
Notice that God called this leprosy an uncleanness, not a disease. It was not the same disease we refer to today as leprosy (Hansen’s Disease). It is said that Pharaoh (of Moses fame) was infected with it and may have died from it. So it may have been associated with the plagues that God brought on the Egyptians. Even in the New Testament, when Jesus came in contact with lepers, it says He cleansed them, not that He healed them.
Leprosy in the Bible is a type, or a picture of, sin. When God delivered the nation of Israel from Egypt, he told them:
“If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you” (Ex. 15.26).
God used leprosy as an immediate judgment on sin numerous times in the Bible. When we get to the book of Numbers we will see Moses’ sister Miriam was struck with leprosy when she murmured against her brother. She was cleansed when Moses prayed for her.
We know that the Israelites frequently disobeyed God’s commands by involving themselves with the pagan culture around them, so at times, it may have been a judgment on sin, either in the individual’s life or on the nation, as a whole.
Contagious & Disfiguring
What does this picture for us? As with sin, leprosy didn’t kill outright in most cases, but it greatly disfigured its victims. And like leprosy, sin is extremely contagious! Paul said
“Do not be deceived. ‘Bad company corrupts good morals'” (1 Cor. 15.33).
Not only can we catch sin from those we associate with, but we’re warned not be carriers!
“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea” (Mk. 9.42).
Sins like anger, bitterness and gossip, as well as others, are highly contagious.
Just as leprosy resulted in separation from the rest of the people, sin separates us from others! First and foremost, It separates us from God. In the case of unbelievers, sin separates them from the life of God here and from spending eternity with Him. If we are truly believers we don’t lose our salvation, but it hinders our fellowship with Him when our hearts are clouded by sin.
There are, also, times when we are commanded to put sinners, even our brothers and sisters in Christ, outside the fellowship, or “camp,” where God alone deals with them (1 Cor. 5). Continue reading →
The tabernacle is ready, the priests’ have been consecrated …
“And Moses said to Aaron, ‘Go to the altar, offer your sin offering and your burnt offering, and make atonement for yourself and for the people. Offer the offering of the people, and make atonement for them, as the LORD commanded’ ” (9.7).
The next verse says …
“Aaron therefore went to the altar and killed the calf of the sin offering, which was for himself.”
As I mentioned yesterday, Aaron had to first deal with his own sin before God.
1 Peter 2.9 says about us:
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
We, too, as God’s holy priesthood, must deal with our own sin before we can see clearly to help anyone else—including our husbands and our children. Matthew 7.5 says:
You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Jesus knew how to draw a word picture.
My paraphrase is, “Excuse me, there’s a telephone pole in your eye and you’re worried about that speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye! You might wanna get rid of that pole and things might clear up a bit!”
We all know what happens when we get something in our eye – our eyes water and it’s hard to see anything. Jesus said we must first see the sin in our lives, up close and personal and deal with it, or we are never going to see clearly to minister truth to anyone else.
How are you at defending the faith and what you say you believe? Do you ever pretend you’re not a believer because it’s inconvenient or embarrassing? Have you ever said my faith is a “personal thing” when you had an opportunity to “give a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3.15)? Do you ever hold back when it would mean taking a stand or speaking up? I know I have.
Leviticus 3 & 4
In this passage, we find three of the women who followed Jesus there at the cross “looking on from afar.” It’s interesting to note that there is no record of any of the women who had followed Jesus leaving Him or denying Him in those last hours, when most of the men fled in fear.
What about you and me?
Do you ever pretend you’re not a believer because it’s inconvenient or embarrassing? Have you ever said my faith is a “personal thing” when you had an opportunity to defend and talk about what you believe?” Do you ever hold back when it would mean taking a stand or speaking up? I know I have.
Maybe we’re afraid someone won’t like us? Or of jeopardizing something we want? Or we’re afraid of the consequences?
Certainly, we need to be wise in the work place, but, at times, we keep silent more because it’s uncomfortable. Other times, we don’t speak up because we don’t really know how to defend our faith and we’re afraid we’ll sound foolish or mess it up.
Yet look at what the Apostle Peter told a earlier generation of believers–people who lived in almost constant danger of persecution or worse:
13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil (1 Pet. 3.13-17).
What do you need to do to be better prepared to “defend the faith”? Do you need to get involved in a discipleship class or Bible study so you can learn the basics of the Christian faith? Do you need to pray for boldness or freedom from fear? Do you just need to step out in faith?
The primary theme in Leviticus is holiness. God is holy and He has commanded us to be holy just as He is (1 Pet. 1.14-16).
The need for holiness is attested to by the complicated systems of sacrifices and offerings. The animal sacrifices made temporary atonement for the sins of the priests and the people.
And what a “messy” and costly business the sacrificial system really was.
But then, I’m reminded that sin itself is “messy” business! Think of all the messes we make in our lives: our friendships, our marriages, our families, our finances, and every area of life. It’s not always “pretty” and the only remedy is Christ.
When we see our complete failure to be holy and come to understand that He died as the perfect Sacrifice for all who believe, we can exchange our sin for His holiness.
I hope I’m not the only one who falls so easily into the trap of grumbling and complaining. After all, it seems like such a little thing! Yet, in reality, we’re not just complaining about our circumstances or other people, but against our Sovereign God. We’re called to shine the light into a dark world, but it’s hard to be shining when you’re whining!
The children of Israel had just watched God deliver them in a powerful way. He had parted the Red Sea and allowed them to cross over on dry land and then completely destroyed their enemies. What a celebration that must have been! God had gloriously and miraculously delivered the Israelites from the powerful armies of Egypt, a world power at that time. There was singing and dancing. The whole congregation glorifying God!
But then … three days later … three days! Their concern over their physical needs caused them to grumble against Moses. The text in verse 25 of chapter 15 says that God was testing them.
Again God worked miraculously by making the water drinkable. In fact, He did exceeding abundantly above all they could ask or think, as He so often does for us (Eph. 3:20), by leading them to Elim where there were “twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees” (15.27).
Then a few verses and a month later we read:
“Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. And the children of Israel said to them, ‘Oh, that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger’ ” (16:2-3).
Again it was all about physical needs.
From our vantage point, it seems so foolish of them, after all God had done, to so quickly throw aside their trust in Him. But … before we get too critical, what about us? Continue reading →
In “The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard,” a businessman hires workers at various times throughout the day. At the end of the day, he pays the same wage to those who were hired just before quitting time as to those who worked all day. Some of them said, in effect, “It’s not fair!”
Have you ever felt like those laborers who were hired early in the morning? Perhaps, on the job or, possibly, in your spiritual life?
Maybe you were raised in church. Or maybe you were the “good” son or daughter, the one who didn’t rebel against your parents or your Christian upbringing. Or maybe you’ve been a believer for a long time, faithfully serving Him and there are things you’ve prayed about that haven’t happened.
Maybe you got a diagnosis you didn’t want or your spouse walked out on you? Then you see some new believer all excited because God has done something great for her!
Or maybe you’ve had a hard time accepting the fact that your “n’er-do-well” brother-in-law got saved after years of drug use and wild living and now everyone acts like he’s the golden boy! It hardly seems fair.
We can be so like the older brother in the story of the Prodigal Son (Lk. 15.11-32). He was mad because his father forgave his wild younger brother and even threw a party when he came home (more about that when we get there).
But, if we’re honest, we might look back and admit that though we may not have “run off” into riotous living like the prodigal, there have been many times when our hearts were far from God, times we harbored bitterness and unforgiveness, times when we were selfish, manipulative, unkind and unloving. Instead of being upset over God’s grace in the lives of others, we need to get down on our knees and thank Him for His grace in ours.
And no matter what … even when it doesn’t seem fair to us, we can trust in the goodness of our sovereign God. A great book to help you understand His goodness and sovereignty in the midst of difficulty is the book It’s Not Fair! by Wayne Mack.
God is about to deliver His people from Israel, but so far Pharaoh has refused to let his cheap labor force leave Egypt.
Over and over he agrees to allow them to go, only to harden his heart when the “crisis” of each plague is over and the “pain” is not so intense (see Jan. 29 post, “Sleeping with Frogs”). Don’t we often do the same? Continue reading →
Gentlemen, excuse me for a minute while I talk to the ladies. Ladies, have you been guilty of using biology as an excuse to disobey the second greatest commandment, to love your neighbor as you love yourself?
Rachel had stolen from her father and when he came looking for his property, she used the fact that it was “that time of the month” to cover her sin! Is it possible we do much the same thing in various ways?
Also, what was Jacob’s wrestling with God all about? Did Jacob “win” that wrestling match, why did he go away with a permanent limp, and what does it all mean? Why does God allow us to wrestle with Him in prayer sometimes?
Today we’ll talk about Jacob and his divine wrestling match, but first, I want to comment on a couple of other passages.
Jacob has decided to take his two wives and his children and head home.
In 31.16-20 and 31.35 we see these two sisters, Jacob’s wives, express belief in God, “… whatever God has said to you, do it.”
The next thing we know Rachel has stolen her father’s household gods before they head off (31.19)!
It seems so ridiculous that once she knew the truth she could think there was any power in something made by man’s hands! And yet, don’t we come up with our own man made solutions instead of waiting on and trusting God?
Maybe, she “kind of believed.” How else could she explain how Jacob prospered in spite Laban’s schemes?
Maybe she found it hard to leave behind her family “traditions”? Remember many of the pagan people believed in many gods, not just one. Maybe she didn’t want to “burn any bridges” with those other “gods.”
Again, what about us? Do we say we trust God on the one hand, but “not burn our bridges” on the other? What are you hanging on to “just in case”?
The Manner of Women
And this one’s for us, ladies:
Jacob had left without telling Laban. Now Laban returns home and finds Jacob and his daughters gone, along with his household god. Continue reading →
It started in the garden. The serpent tempted Eve first with a thought, “Did God really say …?” The first step in his deception was to get her to doubt God and he’s still whispering the same question today.
Also read about the danger of thinking we’re smarter than God, the importance of honoring parents and some examples of fulfilled prophecy.
God had created the man and the woman and placed them in the garden to tend and keep it (2.15). He left them with just one commandment:
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2.16-17).
But sadly, they would listen to another voice:
“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, “You shall not eat of every tree of the garden”?’” (v. 3.1)
The New Living Translation says, “’Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?’”
Nothing much has changed. The devil is still whispering the same questions today, trying to get us to doubt God’s Word, to believe He’s withholding something good from us, and get us to think we can decide what is right and wrong.
“Did God really say … that homosexuality is wrong?”
“Did God really say … that you should submit to your husband in everything? What if Continue reading →