Daily Thoughts from Exodus: Second Command addendum

“You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me” (20:5, ESV).

God is a jealous husband. His wife, His people, cannot “hate” Him and not suffer consequences. God will see to it that the natural consequences of parents building false values into their children’s lives will continue to the fourth generation. This is not to say that He may not sovereignly save individuals from among those generations, but there is no promise that He will. When men reject the true image of God as sovereign in their lives, He exercises His sovereignty in judgment.

“…but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments” (20:6, ESV).

This is the promise to those who obey the second commandment. God will bless their generations with the grace to come to the knowledge of the true God. No amount of godly training alone can bring a person to Christ. Only God can turn hearts toward Himself. No idol of man’s making, no God fashioned in man’s image has such sovereign control.

Even if we don’t worship a fashioned likeness of God, we may still be operating with a purposely distorted image of Him. The Pharisees fashioned a God of rigid standards (true to an extent) that they believed they could keep and therefore expected certain rewards from Him. What false images of God have you constructed?


2 thoughts on “Daily Thoughts from Exodus: Second Command addendum

  1. When I look at this in context to what you are writing it appears that punishing to the Future Generations comes from a sin of worshipping Idols other than God not necessarily all of the sins committed by our fathers what is the true interpretation of this verse.

    1. I think a good case can be made for that. The remark is made in the context of the prohibition of idolatry and we see a repetition of that comment from God in his interaction with Moses (Exodus 34) after Israel’s transgression with the golden calf. Further, God’s response is against those who “hate me” indicating most naturally an idolatrous worship. We are told in Ezekiel 18:19,20 that the son pays only for his own sin. So the indication in this passage in Exodus 20 is that successive generations take up idolatry and so are dealt with justly.

      We know that this is not an automatic thing. This history of the kings in 2 Kings who succumbed to idolatry demonstrates that their sons did not always become idolaters. Josiah does not follow in his father’s footsteps.

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