How God Visits Sins on the Third and Fourth Generation

by John Piper

Does God visit the sins of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation? Some texts seem to say he does and others seem to say he doesn’t. Our job is to figure out the sense in which he does and the sense in which he doesn’t.

On the one hand it seems as if he does:

The Lord…visits the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation. (Exodus 34:6-7= Deuteronomy 5:8-10)

“Because of their iniquity, and also because of the iniquities of their fathers they shall rot away like them.” (Leviticus 26:39)

On the other hand it seems that he doesn’t:

Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers.” (Deuteronomy 24:16)

[Amaziah] did not put to death the children of the murderers, according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, where the Lord commanded, “Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. But each one shall die for his own sin.” (2 Kings 14:6)

The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. (Ezekiel 18:20, cf. Jeremiah 31:30)

How do these passages fit together? This matters for the sake of God’s character, and the Bible’s coherence, and how we counsel those whose parents were wicked or just garden variety sinful.

Here are my two conclusions that helps me put them together…

Read full article here.

 

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