(The LORD) . . . will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation. Exodus 34:7b
The world took notice when the small island of Haiti was rocked by an earthquake.
Then, as the reports came in, as we heard that tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands had been killed, and many more injured and made homeless, people decided to act. They responded with gifts, with prayers, with cash, with time, and with much needed supplies.
Then, from the Christian community came a voice (I will not mention the name of the person behind the voice) who said the earthquake was a divine punishment upon the people of Haiti. It was a divine visitation which had come because, generations ago, some people on that island had made a pact with the devil.
I have a problem with that.
In the Bible, when God was going to visit a punishment upon His people, He sent a prophet, sometimes a whole group of prophets to warn people of what was going to happen if they didn't repent.
God gave them a chance to mend their ways. If they mended, wonderful! If they didn't, the punishment took care of things.
This is the first time I've heard of God sending a prophet after a punishment has taken place. It is the first time I've heard of a prophet who didn't tell what was going to happen, but explained what had just happened.
Now I have no doubt that God punishes sin. And Scripture says if the grandchildren copy the sins of the grandparents, they will get punished, too. But this kind of interpretation of natural events paints a picture of the Triune God that makes me very uncomfortable.
I have a Lord who sent His Son to seek and save the lost, to bring those in darkness into the light, to be a physician for those who were ill in spirit. I have a Savior who cried over Jerusalem because the people wouldn't repent and be gathered.
This, I believe, is a far better and far more accurate picture of our God of grace and love.
THE PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, for the sins I have committed, You have my heartfelt repentance. May I rejoice in the forgiveness that comes to me through the Savior's sacrifice -- the forgiveness which is complete and total. In the Savior's Name, I pray it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries