The problem with issuing warnings is that you often arm people with excuses later on. Take for example the warnings expressed in the Ten Commandments against idolatry. Engage in it, warns God and you will not only bring down judgment upon yourself but also your children to the third and even the fourth generation.

They very quickly ignored the warning and brought down upon themselves the wrath of God. The problem was that when the prophets turned up on the scene to tell them why God had punished them they cried foul. “The father’s eat sour grapes” they said “And the children’s teeth are set on edge!” Their argument in a nutshell was that they had suffered for the bad decisions their parents had made. They were the helpless victims of commandment number two.

There are many today that subscribe to similar theories just recently for example a local pastor told his congregation that if any of them had trouble handling money it was probably because one of their ancestors had handled money badly. I assume the cure then is a jolly good exorcism to get rid of the family demon.

Ezekiel dealt with this problem very clearly. He made it clear that the only time you need to be punished for what your father did is when you decide to follow in his footsteps. Naturally there is a tendency for children to do that, thus the warning in the commandment, but the same commandments promises great blessings for those that Love the Lord and obey him.

At the end of the day each one of us is personally accountable for the way we have lived.

Ezekiel spelt it out very clearly and comprehensively by giving examples of the kind of people that will be declared righteous and the ones that won’t. You can read it for yourself in chapter 18. He speaks for example about a man who makes lots of good decisions about the way he lives he avoids offending God and is declared righteous. Such a man however might have a rebellious son who goes out of his way to be an offence to God he will be put to death and the punishment will be on his own head. But then what if that man has a son who turns to God and seeks to avoid sin as his grandfather did? Will he escape the curse of his father? Absolutely says Ezekiel!

The point is that the only time we need to cop what our father’s copped is when we do the sinful things our father did.

God is a God with open arms to welcome anyone who takes a step towards him. While its true that only the elect are saved it is also true that God does not delight in anyone’s death. This means that his preference is by far to offer grace he wants you to have it and will give it freely if you turn to him.

The mystery of predestination and our ability to make choices is a difficult one but you can be sure that if you truly want to be saved from the idolatry in this world you will be.

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