I have talked with many college students over the years and some had a variety of strange and interesting views about the Bible. More than a few thought that God hated them. They took the words from Deuteronomy 5:9 soberly, “I, the Lord, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.” That view of God was too much to imagine. I remember a few who had been adopted and they saw themselves as illegitimate due to their circumstances. Others knew of their parents’ failings in life and thought, “Wow, my parents are real sinners. That must make me a real bad person in God’s eyes.”
I counseled them that their problem was with how they read the Bible, or better stated, how they misread the Scriptures. For example, they forgot to read the next verse in the Deuteronomy 5 passage – verse ten says, “…but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
Instead of revealing hatred, God’s commandments demonstrate his love for us. Knowing that the tendency of an earthly father who chose to make and worship others gods would set in motion a series of bad circumstances for his kids, God said (Deuteronomy 5:8), “You shall not make for yourself an idol.” No autographed jerseys of Moses or Joshua, moments on Mediterranean Idol TV shows to meet the woman who sang about the parting of the Red Sea, or finding memorabilia from the leftovers of the march to the Promised Land that you can sell on oldarcheaology.com.
Parents should be aware that their sins, spiritual neglect, or failure to distance themselves from the ungodliness of the world can negatively influence their children. Children can suffer for the sins of their parents in the sense that they generally follow the patterns and habits set out by them. Every action has a ripple effect of some kind. It is evident that kids may follow (and repeat) the path of temptation, compromise, evil habits, and attitudes they see in their parents to their own destruction. But that does not have to be the case.
The Bible is the best selling book of all time, and it takes time to understand its meta-narrative, contents, Old and New Testament framework, and overall continuity. The meta-narrative (i.e., big theme) is understood from the words – creation – fall – redemption – consummation.
We all suffer from the impact of the sin of our first father and mother in a garden long ago (Genesis 3:1-7). Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God brought short and long term judgment as well as set in motion the greatest rescue operation of all time. The greatest love story of all is often summed up in the children’s song, “Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so…” It’s why Jesus died for us according to John 3:16, Romans 5:8, and Hebrews 9:15.
We can worry that God no longer cares for us, but that is not what the Scripture reveals. Nehemiah 9:17 records these words, “You are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.” The Psalms echo that “His love endures forever.”
I realize there are parts of the Bible that trouble us. But the meta-narrative focuses on the character of God – He did not leave us in a sin-stained condition, but worked redemptively to bring us back to a favorable status with Him. Grow devotionally. Keep reading the Bible. All of us need to learn to correctly read, study, and handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). Do not let one verse confuse you about who God is. He is good and His heart is kind.
Love is a verb,