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From the Word: 5b I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the ancestors upon the children, upon the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:5b-6)
From the Confessions: The Small Catechism
What does God declare concerning all these commandments?
He says: “I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (Exodus 20:5b-6)
What does this mean?
God threatens to punish all who violate these commandments. We should, therefore, fear his anger and in no way disobey them. But God promises grace and every blessing to all who keep these commandments. We should, therefore, love him, trust in him, and gladly keep his commandments.
Pulling It Together
Verse five from the Word today can be a troubling verse, especially if you read the NIV. In that version, it reads: “punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.” God does not punish children for the sins of their ancestors. However, the effects of murder, theft, adultery, divorce, lies, dishonoring parents, and generally hating God, can linger for generations.
Nonetheless, those who have faith in God and his Christ, discover that God loves them in spite of their lineage, often breaking the chains of their ancestors. He gives believers a new and noble ancestry, becoming for them the Father of all good things.
Prayer: Help me believe in your love, Father, and keep your commandments. Amen.
Click here for resources to learn the Ten Commandments.
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