“Why do you turn and scrape every stone to gather wealth, and take so little care of your children to whom one day you must relinquish all?” Socrates to the people of Athens
We’ve been looking in the last two Fathering posts at some passages that speak of God “visiting” the sins of the fathers who do not love and walk with Him on to future generations. In this post I want to begin with some passages that do not use that specific word but convey a similar thought. Let’s begin with Jeremiah 2:4, 5, 9, “Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel. Thus says the Lord, “What injustice did your fathers find in Me, That they went far from Me and walked after emptiness and became empty?...Therefore I will contend with you, declares the Lord, “And with your sons’ sons I will contend.” This whole chapter is one long rebuke from God to His people Israel for their sin of forsaking Him who had chosen them and delivered them and formed them and pursued them for man made idols that could not in any way do any of these things. He therefore promises to contend not only with them, and not only with their children, but also with their grandchildren.
While we tend to minimize the fact that many under the church umbrella today, who might be willing to serve in some way and may give $$ (which churches are always in need of) do not as a daily way of life seek and pursue and worship God; God twice in this chapter calls this “forsaking Him” and He labels it as “evil” (vs. 13, 19). And the consequences are far reaching.
A similar passage is also found in Jeremiah in chapter 32:18,19, “who shows lovingkindness to thousands, but repays the iniquity of fathers into the bosom of their children after them, O great and mighty God…giving to everyone according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his deeds.” God in His goodness, righteousness and wisdom does not protect the children of rebellious fathers from the consequences of their father’s sins. Every father reading this ought to shudder and cry out for mercy! Thankfully our God prefers mercy over judgment and longs to show His lovingkindness especially today in His Son to all of us who will come to Him in repentance.
Have you ever noticed this passage in Isaiah? “Behold, it is written before Me, I will not keep silent, but I will repay; I will even repay into their bosom, Both their own iniquities and the iniquities of their fathers together,” says the Lord. Because they have burned incense on the mountains And scorned Me on the hills, Therefore I will measure their former work into their bosom.” Isaiah 65:6,7 Whatever we make of this it is one more example that God doesn’t just see us as an individual; nor does He see our sins as merely ours; but rather He sees us with our fathers and their sins along with ours. They are intermingled together somehow.
When God wants His people to understand the depths and seriousness of their sins, He deems it necessary at times to help them see the connection with their sins and the sins of their fathers: “They have turned back to the iniquities of their ancestors (lit. former fathers) who refused to hear My words, and they have gone after other gods to serve them; the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken My covenant which I made with their fathers.” Jeremiah 11:10
Note in this passage how God wants Jeremiah to know how the people will initially respond to his rebuke, “Now when you tell this people all these words, they will say to you, ‘For what reason has the Lord declared all this great calamity against us? And what is our iniquity, or what is our sin which we have committed against the Lord our God?” Jeremiah 16:10 Then He tells Jeremiah how he is to answer them initially in vs. 11 “Then you are to say to them, ‘It is because your forefathers have forsaken Me, ‘declares the Lord, ‘and have followed other gods and served them and bowed down to them; but Me they have forsaken and have not kept My law.” Then God wants Jeremiah to help them see how they have willfully participated in the sins of their fathers even exceeding their wickedness in vs. 12 “You too have done evil, even more than your forefathers; for behold, you are each one walking according to the stubbornness of his own evil heart, without listening to Me.” Vs. 13 = His punishment on them both.
So how have righteous people of old responded to God’s warnings and rebukes about the sins of the fathers? Well here are some for you to ponder and learn from:
King Josiah - “Go, inquire of the Lord for me and the people and all Judah concerning to words of this book that has been found, for great is the wrath of the Lord that burns against us, because our fathershave not listened to the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.” II Kings 22:13
Ezra - “and I said, “O my God, I am ashamed and embarrassed to lift my face to You, my God, for our iniquities have risen above our heads and our guilt has grown even to the heavens. Since the days of our fathers to this day we have been in great guilt, and on account of our iniquities we, our kings and our priests have been given into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity and to plunder and to open shame as it is this day.” Ezra 9:6,7
Nehemiah – “But they, our fathers, acted arrogantly; They became stubborn and would not listen to Your commandments. They refused to listen, And did not remember Your wondrous deeds which You had performed among them; So they became stubborn….” Nehemiah 9:16, 17
Asaph - “For He established a testimony in Jacob And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers That they should teach them to their children, That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, That they may arise and tell them to their children, That they should put their confidence in God And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments, And not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not prepare its heart And whose spirit was not faithful to God.” Psalm 78:5-8
Psalmist - “We have sinned like (lit. with) our fathers, We have committed iniquity, we have behaved wickedly. Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders; They did not remember Your abundant kindnesses, But rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea.” Psalm 106:6,7
Jeremiah - “We know our wickedness, O Lord, The iniquity of our fathers, for we have sinned against You; Do not despise us, for Your own name’s sake; Do not disgrace the throne of Your glory; Remember and do not annul Your covenant with us.” Jeremiah 14:20, 21
Jeremiah - “O Lord, my strength and my stronghold, And my refuge in the day of distress, To You the nations will come From the ends of the earth and say; “Our fathers have inherited nothing but falsehood, Futility and things of no profit.” Jeremiah 16:19
So some might be thinking, "we are in the New Covenant age of grace. How does this relate to us? And c'mon Randy, this is Thanksgiving Day. Anything more pertinent you could throw at us?"
Well here's my Thanksgiving new covenant application.:) Paul exhorts us in Ephesians 4:22-24, "..in reference to your former manner of life, ...lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and ..be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth." Put off the old and put on the new.
To do that of course we have to identify the old.
So I grew up celebrating Thanksgiving with my clan/extended family most every year growing up. We would gather at one of our relatives' homes and the ladies would cook an amazing meal and serve it to all of us while we men watched at least the Cowboys game and possibly the other one as well. Oh yes... and the ladies would clean up afterwards. How thankful we men were that we were men/boys and therefore exempted from all of that cooking, serving and cleaning so we could enjoy three hours of non stop entertainment. And if the Cowboys won, we were of course very thankful to God for that!
That my friends would be the "old". The "new" would be making sure the women don't do all the work; recognizing that men can cook, serve and clean up afterwards as well; forgoing the Cowboys game for real life and relationships; Thanking God that He didn't smote me for all those hours I wasted year after year after year until He delivered me from my selfishness and stupidity, etc., and trying to be more sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit as I celebrate Thanksgiving Day.
God bless you abundantly as you allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the old and show you the path to the new!