Temptation often places us at the top of a steep and slippery path of sin! The devil often whispers, “Just a little won’t hurt,” or “Who will know,” or “You deserve this.” He encourages us to trust in our own ability to control the situation, but when sin gets its hooks in us, it will often take us farther and deeper into heartache than we ever imagined.
But what about generational sin? What does it mean that God “visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations”? Is our sin sometimes the fault of our parents or others in our lives? Is it the fault of someone who abused or sinned against us in some way? Continue reading →
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 →
Idols of the Heart: We are repeatedly warned, even in the New Testament, to avoid, in fact flee from, idolatry. But giant statues aren’t the only kind of idols. What “idols of the heart” do we worship that can hinder our relationships with God and with others?
In chapter 19 God displays His power and majesty so that the people will have no doubt that He is God and that Moses is His representative. The need for them to be outwardly clean was a visual representation of the inward cleanliness with which they were to approach a Holy God.
Then in chapter 20 God gives the Ten Commandments to the people Himself. Later He will write them on stone tablets.
The first command is “Have no other gods before me” (20.3). This, of course, was a prohibition against worshiping false gods of any kind. It was spoken to people in a culture where most nations believed in and worshiped many gods, polytheism.
The second was to “Make no images, no likenesses of anything in heaven or on earth” (20.4). They were not to make an image of anything that was in heaven (angels, God Himself, or people who had gone to heaven) or on earth (man, woman, animals, or anything else). This command did not forbid artistic expression, but forbids the use of these items as part of our worship.
Idols of the Heart
We must also guard against idols of the heart: things that are more important to us than God.
Ezekiel 14 says, “these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put before them that which causes them to stumble into iniquity” (v. 3).
Almost anything can become an idol—success, money, power, prestige, having a better home, children, or a spouse. When addressing their “idols of the heart” God told Ezekiel to tell the people:
“Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Repent, turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations. For anyone of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell in Israel, who separates himself from Me and sets up his idols in his heart and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, then comes to a prophet to inquire of him concerning Me, I the LORD will answer him by Myself. I will set My face against that man and make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of My people. Then you shall know that I am the LORD'” (Ezek. 14:6-8).
Think about that phrase, “[he] puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity.” If you take something, even a good thing, and put it in front of your face, it’s hard to see Continue reading →