Exodus 20:4-6 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image-any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
The second commandment seems pretty straightforward. Don’t worship anything other than God. Most of us don’t carve images, place them on our fireplace mantles and bow down to them anymore. Of course we get that some of the eastern religions still do this sort of thing and we even understand that is a clear violation of the second commandment. Very few Christians will debate that.
But I find it very fascinating and somewhat confusing what God meant in the second half of this commandment. What an odd thing where He tells us He’s going to visit the iniquities of the father on the children. What in the world does this mean? Have you ever considered this? It’s so easy to gloss over in our desire to not really deal with it. It’s kind of frightening really.
That doesn’t sound like a loving God? What kind of a twisted being would hold innocent children responsible for what the fathers have done?
I was flying recently on a business trip and a man and his son were sitting in front of me. The flight attendant asked where they were going. The father proudly declared it was his sons twenty-first birthday and they were on their way to Las Vegas. Everyone around me chirped in with an “oh” or an “ah”, “oh happy birthday”, how fun to go to Vegas. Then she proceeded to discuss the free alcohol they would provide for his birthday on the plane. My heart was grieved as I considered this is the standard the world deems fun and exciting and worthy of celebration; a father bonding with his son.
Now I suppose this father and son duo could be headed to Vegas to stand on a corner, to preach the gospel and hand out tracts but I didn’t gather that from the responses and the subsequent conversations that ensued.
Do you see the point I’m making about Exodus 20 verse 5. Perhaps this man’s father took him to Vegas for his twenty-first birthday, and now this son will probably take his son and so on and so on. If God has mercy on someone in this familial line, perhaps the gospel will be preached and souls will be saved otherwise the father’s iniquities are being visited upon the next generations. God didn’t specifically do it to this man, He just allows them to go their own way (Romans 1:28).
This man hates God, although he may not think that he does. Scripture tells us this very plainly, because you don’t take a son to Vegas for gambling and drinking and who knows what else without hating God. Ephesians 6:4 And you fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
Fathers, may God have mercy if we love Him and keep His commandments.