Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A Jealous God

The God of the Bible is a jealous God. He will not give his glory to another, nor will he share it with the sons of men. He alone is to be worshiped, and to worship any other is simply idolatry. The KJV uses a great phrase for this in Isaiah 45 and 46: none else. “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” Those chapters are filled with phrases like that; Jehovah is God and there is none else. There is no one else who can save you from the trial; there is no one else that can protect you from your enemies, and there is no one else that you are to give glory and worship to. All things come to us by his hand: “herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty” all come by his hand alone.

The fact that God is a jealous god has certain consequences in the real world. Sins against him are of worthy of unimaginable punishment. In our modern American society, we have an idea that very little comes to us because of our parents. Of course, we acknowledge that our genes are from our parents because we hold science in such high esteem, but there are so many other things that come to us by our parents as well. In the second commandment, God spoke about blessing and cursing that would come upon the children of those who believe and those who do not.
Exodus 20:4-6: You shall not make for yourself a carved image--any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

God visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations? My instantaneous reaction to this is that it is simply not fair. How can God judge me for what my father did or did not do? I’m not him; I’m not even like him! This is a problem when my political and secular views start to creep into my ideas about God. He has always dealt with families, and more specifically, with covenant heads of household.

The greatest example of this is Adam himself. As a covenant head of the whole human race, the curse he brought upon himself and his seed is with us to this day. We still labor against thorns and weeds, and women most definitely still have pain during childbirth. “Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation…”

Christ himself is also a covenant head of household. He is the head of the household of all the people of God, and as the covenant head, he has redeemed us from the curse of the first Adam and given us the covenantal blessings that were lost. As Paul tells us in Galatians: “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”

These blessings and cursing because of a father’s sin have far reaching consequences. An unwise father can leave his family in poverty for many generations, or he can leave them with wealth for many generations. Note though, that this doesn’t mean God doesn’t redeem people from sinful heritages, nor does he automatically redeem people from Godly heritages. The best example I can think of for this is Hezekiah. The Bible says: “And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done.” And yet, about his son: “And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed;”

I think a lot of the time these blessings and curses come in material ways. God may well choose to redeem people from an especially sinful heritage, but they will still struggle with having an unbelieving family, and perhaps with poverty and such. God may also choose to leave some from a Godly heritage unredeemed and yet they will enjoy the blessings of such a heritage. They will have the Biblical categories to think in and they will have a Godly family to support them. Those are not trivial blessings, but neither are they salvation. God does visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Him, but show mercy to thousands, to those who love Him and keep His commandments!


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