Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me; – Exodus 20:5
This is pretty scary to me on one level. Notice, it’s the sins of the fathers that the Lord would visit on the children unto the third and fourth generation. This tells me a couple of things.
First, that God places real importance on what the father does, for it’s his sin that’s visited, not the mothers. We saw this yesterday with Adam and Eve. More importantly, we see it throughout the Old Testament where, especially a king, whole families were judged for what the father did. Remember Achan? In the book of Joshua, the children of Israel were commanded not to take of the spoil of Jericho, and yet Achan did. Because of that sin, Achan and his whole family were destroyed. God takes sin seriously.
Now, you could say, but that’s unfair! I mean, maybe there were innocent children in that family! Well, one person could argue that the whole family had to be in on it, since the leaders of Israel went through multiple layers before they found the family that had done this thing, and it was hidden in the middle of their tent.
But on a different level, what the parents demonstrate is what the child emulates. God takes rebellion seriously– much more so than we do today. Remember that he said that the rebellious child should be killed? Christians look at that and cringe– but we should be looking and realizing that God equates rebellion with the sin of witchcraft— and it’s something that is fostered in a family.
The second thing that comes to mind is that it is really important that we follow the Lord, for our actions have consequences. It is not enough to say that I can mess up, but my kids will be all right. We must be modeling Christlikeness now. We must be demonstrating a love for our wife now. We must be fostering a passion for God now.
Just like we can’t wait for today is the day of salvation, we can’t wait to model the Christian life to our children because now is always the best time!