Whose Fault Is It?

You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or 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 or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:4-6 ESV). Yesterday we looked at the tragedy of FBC, Sutherland, Texas where 26 people were killed. There have been countless “talking points” developed from this event. Just as there always seems to be countless fingers pointed in blame, this event drew the same attention. There were some reports that the shooter, Devon Patrick Kelley, had a history of mental illness in his immediate family.  Some have suggested that he had no choice in the matter and our system utterly failed him and the victims. Well, my answer to that conclusion is simply “nope.” That brings me to our reading today. What does the Bible say? The visitation of the fathers’ sins on the children is not a simple punishment of innocent children for what the fathers did. The children themselves are always thought of as sinful and rebellious as the fathers’ sin is worked out in their lives. There are two kinds of effects of fathers’ sins in the lives of children: one is rebellion against God; the other is the calamities of judgment that God brings on the children. We are not told how this rebellious condition is passed to or “visited on” the children. God has the right to punish fathers in the calamities that come upon their children (cf. Jeremiah 16:10-11); but, he chooses to do this in a way that justly correlates with the children’s own guilt. None of this should make anyone feel trapped and without hope because of his parents’ sins. The blood of Jesus conquers all sin and judgment for those who believe. And no one who has a child who goes bad and forsakes the way of righteousness, should feel that it is all his fault (cf. Ezekiel 18:20). All this should make us intensely committed to education with the purpose and plan of God at its heart at home and at church. Great and lasting things are at stake for future generations not only because of what we teach, but also because of who we are. Pray for the families of the victims and the perpetrator. God cares about each of them...

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