No one lives in isolation. Christians are members of Christ’s body. Disciples are God’s family. What one does affects others.

So it was among the people of Israel. Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 B.C., because of the accumulation of the people’s sins over centuries. It did not happen suddenly. So this is why Asaph asks God:

Do not hold us accountable for the sins of earlier generations!
Quickly send your compassion our way,
for we are in serious trouble!
Psalm 79.8 NET

Sin has cumulative effects. Without denying the truth of Ezekiel 18, we ought to recognize that sin hurts not only the one who commits it, but many around him and many who come after.

The above verse is a prayer for mercy and pardon. The author shows his repentance and declares that he has learned his lesson through the punishment God has sent. He recognizes that they are in exile for being a part of a sad and rebellious history. He seeks now to become a recipient of God’s goodness.

As a brotherhood and as a congregation, we are part of a history, not all of it positive nor honorable. May we ask God to treat us with justice and mercy, seeking to recognize whence we came and what we need to do today to please the Lord in all things.

8 thoughts on “The sins of earlier generations

  1. Sin, like radiation exposure, has cumulative effects. If required to choose, I believe I would rather have the exposure to radiation. Sin’s effects can be eternal.

    • Radiation effects last but for a lifetime. You’re so right about the choice if required to pick between them. As horrible as one is, the other defies consideration of its consequences.

  2. The generations that began to neglect the land Sabbath, starting in 1096 BC, and going for 490 years, until the start of the Babylonian captivity, probably did not think that Israel would suffer for neglecting the land Sabbath, but Second Chronicles 36.21 shows that the Babylonian captivity lasted for 70 years, because Israel had not kept the land Sabbath 70 times.

    Previous generations did not suffer the consequence, but their descendants did, starting in 606 BC. So, yes, the cumulative effects of sin grows, in this case, it cumulated for close to 500 years, and then when the punishment came, it was massive.

    Therefore, our sins in the church today may not show up for many generations later, but they will in fact find out us out eventually, or our descendants.

  3. I’m doing a 31 day study through Psalms and Proverbs right now, so was glad to see your devo from there. The reverberations of sin make a dreadful symphony. I suffer the effects of my predecessors’ sins, as some not yet born will suffer the effects of mine. It makes me shudder to think about it. But it seems to me that this is the awareness God intends. We are to become as sensitive to sin and its effects as He. How could we, unless we suffered for it? I am so grateful that God’s justice is ultimately balanced by His mercy in Christ. Excellent thoughts.

    • First, thanks to Eugene for chiming in.

      Hey, Rick, as you well mentioned, our world is wracked with the ravages of sin, and we a part of that. It groans and we groan with it, seeing these horrible effects. It makes us want heaven all the more, doesn’t it?

What do you think?