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Genesis 34-35:9

Moses is summed back up the mountain (He must have been in great shape for a man in his eighties) and there on that mountain God calls out His own name which also reveals His character.

5 Then the LORD came down in a pillar of cloud and called out his own name, "the LORD," as Moses stood there in his presence. 6 He passed in front of Moses and said, "I am the LORD, I am the LORD, the merciful and gracious God. I am slow to anger and rich in unfailing love and faithfulness. 7 I show this unfailing love to many thousands by forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. Even so I do not leave sin unpunished, but I punish the children for the sins of their parents to the third and fourth generations."

I want to share an experience with this community that caused me to literally wrestle “all night” one evening several years ago. I had come out of a church service and stopped off to have something to drink one Friday night. The person I was with at the time had suggested it and we both wrestled with several scriptures and comments that had been discussed during the Friday night Bible Study. Some how we got to talking abut Exodus 34:7, which by the way is also restated in several other books. My problem was with the punishing of the children for the sins of their parents to the third and fourth generation. Why would God do that? Starting from the premise that our reasoning needed to change and that God’s ways were perfect and in Truth, we knew that we needed a new perspective in looking at this passage because, to our minds, this seemed so unfair. But what was in the mind of God when He said this to Moses?

1 Corinthians 2
9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. (KJV)

We continued discussing this “problem” until 3/4am in the morning and then parted our separated ways and each got on the Subway train that would take us to our homes from Manhattan. I arrived home about 5-5:30am but couldn’t get my mind calm enough to sleep, in fact I wasn’t sleepy. I continued my pursuit of that passage going to several of the translations I have at home. One thing I noticed in the King James Version, as well as the English translation of the Jewish Bible, The Tanakh, the word translated punish in the NIV and the NLT, as well as the other standard versions, ASV, RSV is translated “visits.” How was I to reconcile those two words? I even looked up the words in Strong’s Concordance and a Hebrew Lexicon. Lo and behold the Hebrew word translated punish was defined as “visit.” Still a little unsettled and unable to fall asleep, I picked up the phone to contact my discussion partner hoping that this inability to not be able to sleep had befell him. As I dialed the number I heard a still small voice say, “Just because someone comes to visit doesn’t mean you have to let them in.” And Viola! I got it.

Each and every sin or iniquity, the two are not one and the same if you looked them up in the Hebrew dictionary the words are not identical, can be passed down to the next generation. That is why God uses the model of “yeast” that causes bread and cakes to rise as a metaphor for sin. A little bit gets in everything. The familiarity of a family sin will keep it going from generation to generation so not to upset the family dynamics. That is why when one member of an unbelieving family accepts Christ the rest of the family comes against the new believer. A new measuring rod of what is acceptable and what isn’t is raised up and makes the other members feel uncomfortable. So too when a member of a “believing” family decides to break away from a sin that has been engrained within a family through generations, will be attacked. [There is a passage where sin, iniquity and transgressions are in the same verse and each one has a different Hebrew word under it. Come to think of it, it is this verse; verse seven in the King Jams Version:
7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.]

I’ve broken away from what I usually do because I thought someone might need to hear that it is all right to wrestle with a passage that doesn’t make sense to you. That’s O.K. However, be sure to not logically conclude from your own mind what the solution is. Please allow God to come into your self-talk to give you an understanding of what the passage is saying. When we get to the Thirty-fourth Psalm I will break away again and tell this community how one day a little over twenty years ago God spoke to me about a verse in that chapter. In fact it was the first time I read through the bible and it was one to three verses in that first year of reading that God spoke to me through His Word in such a mighty way that it brought me to my knees. That experience propelled me to come back again and again to Search the Scriptures. There is no better “High” then the high of having the Word of God jump off the page, grab you and say “Here I Am, I’ve come to set you free!”

By the way the other two verses are in Isaiah and Galatians. I will let you know when we come to them because I will break away again from my usually format.

Grace and peace,

In response to God's presence, his statement of who He is, his love, grace, unfailing love and justice, Moses falls down in worship. Everything He says about himself isn't sunshine and flowers--some of it is frightening. Moses' worship of God isn't just because of what He does for him, but because of who He is and because He is worthy of fear and reverence and love. I often wonder why we seem to stray from the fear of the Lord these's something that I go looking for sometimes as a spiritual discipline, but I don't hear it taught very often!

Micah Girl

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