Inheritance: Generational Impact
You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me. - (Exodus 20:5)
As we have seen so far, covenants are comprised of five elements: transcendence, hierarchy, ethics, sanctions, and inheritance. Today, we are looking at this last element of inheritance.
God’s covenants have continuity and long-term generational impact. What you do affects not only you—it affects those in contact with you and those who follow you. It has to do with inheritance.
Just ask Adam and Eve.Their sin spilled over into the next generation when Cain killed Abel, ultimately leading to worldwide judgment (see Genesis 6). Many people today are undergoing things that they didn’t have anything to do with personally. Their parents had everything to do with the problem, and the kids are suffering the repercussions of it.
A baby who is born addicted to alcohol or suffering from drug withdrawal needs medical treatment from the moment he leaves his mother’s womb because someone else broke God’s law.
Like all of God’s principles, this one operates on the personal, familial, church, and civil levels. I’m convinced that the reason the blood of violence is flowing in our streets is that we are shedding innocent blood in America’s abortion rooms (Proverbs 6:17). You cannot escape the repercussions of breaking God’s law and inheriting the built-in consequences.
One reason you and I must fight to stay in God’s will—and when we leave it, fight to get back in as quickly as possible—is that life is not just about you and me. It includes many other people who will come after us. In the Ten Commandments, God said He would pass the iniquity on to “the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me” (Exodus 20:5). Even if you don’t care for yourself, care for others because there are long-term consequences attached to the covenant.
Reflection: What are some examples of the natural consequences of sin? Where have you seen sin bring harm in your life, your family, or your community? Are there areas in your life where you need to repent and ask forgiveness of God and others?