You Bible scholars probably recognize the title here. I was a bit disturbed about this Scripture until recently. I just couldn’t see God punishing children for their fathers’ sins, nor punishing the fathers for their children’s sins. If you are familiar with Exodus 20 15:5 “Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them, for I Jehovah thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, upon the third and upon the fourth generation of them that hate me,” (ASV). The bow down nor serve them refers to other gods being worshiped; money, sports, cars, celebrities, houses, you name it. (Also see Numbers 14:18) I recently heard a sermon on this topic, my following comments are what I brought away from that sermon:
The first generation is a generation strongly seeking and loving God, but gradually moving away from Him and His Word. The second generation follows the first and continues to move away. The third generation follows the second and moves even further away. When the fourth generation arrives and continues the process they reach the point that God will no longer sustain and bless them. I think I am old enough to have arrived in that first generation. I have watched our process as we removed God from our schools, from our government and from many of our churches. I think we are likely in the fourth generation. The many problems we are seeing in our nation these days may just be God telling us we had better turn back to Him, man’s wisdom is insufficient and will not preserve our blessings.