Dr. Gerald Miller – “A Moral Basis for Covenant with God”
Read Exodus 19:1-6; 20:1-17
“You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.” – Exodus 20:5
God’s purpose in choosing Israel was to foster “a holy nation” that would learn what it means to fellowship with Him in covenant love. The Ten Commandments give foundation to this covenant, making clear that right relationship with God carries moral implications. We are not right with God if we are lax in our morals and wrongful toward one another. 20:5 often occasions misunderstanding. God’s “jealousy” does not mean selfish envy or possessiveness. God is not envious of other deities that some Israelites may turn to.
God’s jealously refers to His “impassioned love.” He desires the very best for those in relationship with Him and zealously treasures that love. The other part of verse 5 means that the effects of one’s sin may show up in the character of one’s children and grandchildren. We can pass on our sinful, emotionally destructive patterns to those who come after us. This is what makes sin so insidious and tragic. God’s love for us, however, remains constant. He has offered Himself, in the person of His Son, as an atoning sacrifice, so that all who believe in Him might not perish but have everlasting life.