The Sins Of The Fathers
Sins of the Fathers
The Lord sent a “man of God” to old Eli (I Samuel 2) with a harsh word for the old man. He had been given a place of unique stature and opportunity among the people of Israel. As a Judge and Priest he had both the opportunity and authority to influence the people of God to walk in obedience to God and as a result, enjoy the blessings of God.
Instead, Eli and his sons Phinehas and Hophni “fattened themselves on the choicest part of the people’s sacrifices,” and blasphemed the Name of God before the people of Israel; so much so that the people despised (ridiculed, held in contempt, and abandoned) the things of God. Their conduct was so contemptuous before the Lord that He vowed to cut off Eli’s household; that never again would anyone of his household serve in the temple and that forever their names would be synonymous with greed, gluttony, and licentiousness. Because of their disdain and ridicule for the things of God Eli’s sons would die by the sword at the hands of their enemies.
Eli’s own death would not come until he had endured the bitterness of watching his sons die in their sins.
And why? Why this sad end to a storied family of Israel? 1 Samuel 3:13 sums it up: “And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God and he did not restrain them.”
He did not restrain them.
Exodus 34:7 says, “the sins of the fathers shall be visited upon their children.” Take a moment and chew on those words – the judgment for my sins falling upon the head of my children. These words ought to rest like lead upon the heart of every father. They ought to elicit cries of desperation; agony thrown upon the altar of repentance, crying out to God in repentance, asking forgiveness for our spiritual and paternal failure, and begging for mercy upon our children.
God will surely judge this nation. The blood of 60 million unborn children is on our hands, the sins of our perversion, blasphemy, and rebellion cry out for judgment, but it will be our children that suffer. A generation of our fathers has turned away from God to chase mamon and to sate our perverted appetites. More and more of our children are laying down their game boy controllers and picking up guns and with the same calculated precision with which they dispatch digital enemies, they are laying waste to the innocence of the classroom. Indeed, the judgment of God upon this nation may come at the hands of our own children.
We can blame the guns, the politicians, the rock music, the video games, but they are the symptoms. The blame lies at the feet of a generation of fathers who have given themselves over to godlessness, greed, and personal achievement. Alas though, for so many, these terrible words mean little or nothing, as a generation of fathers whose greatest sin may be that they have failed to restrain their rebellious children, will endure the agony of watching them suffer a slow and agonizing generational death because of their own unrestrained blasphemy against the holiness of God.
The Philistines are among us in the form of Planned Parenthood sponsored promiscuity, media transmitted sexuality, government sponsored perversion, and welfare funded dependency; driving the death-sword of blasphemy and spiritual rebellion through the heart of an entire generation while spiritually dead, morally permissive, emasculated fathers stand helplessly and hopelessly by doing what they’ve always done. . . . . nothing.
Old Eli sat on a bench bound by his own flaccid morbidity, in the haze of waning eyesight, in the numb, unfeeling deadness of his own spiritual rot and waited for the inevitable message to arrive, “Your sons are dead.” They were slain by the sword of the Philistines, yes; but they were already doomed by his own failure to do what fathers are supposed to do; to be what a father is supposed to be. There is a generation who sits now on that same bench; impotent against the tide of rebellion, immorality, perversion, and blasphemy that is sweeping away our sons and daughters, waiting for the inevitable message to arrive, “Your sons are dead.”
There is hope. There is a way out; a way to turn things around, but most won’t like it; won’t even consider it. It is the way of repentance, of brokenness before God. “If we are faithful to confess our sins, then He will be faithful to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
It means I must love my kids more than my job, my fishing buddies or basketball league; more than my favorite television programs, more than my favorite football team. It means I must be man enough to be broken by the cross, man enough to plead with God for mercy upon my children, man enough to run to them, throw my arms around them, look them in the eye and say, “NO!” I must be man enough to confess my sin not only to God but to my children and ask for their forgiveness for my failure to teach them by word and example the principles of the Word of God.
It means that we must stop blaming the Philistines for our failure as fathers. As evil as the Philistines were God was pointed in His accusation against Eli – it was not the Philistines that troubled Israel but the wicked, self-centered, self-absorbed indulgence of his sons, and his refusal to restrain them in their wickedness. It is not that the abortionists, pornographers, drug dealers and metalheads have turned our children away from God – it is that their fathers have failed to point them toward God; it is that we have failed to model his character and nature, it is that we have been more concerned that our kids have the latest video games and designer fashions than that they have a relationship to the living God.
It is not the strength of our enemies, but the inadequacy of our defense that lies at the heart of a lost generation.