Vindicating the Scriptural Emphasis of Guilt
Why does scripture emphasize the sins of the fathers insomuch that the stroke of annihilation almost invariably included every single individual child, and, also, the doctrinal explanation provided rarely clarified a standing chance for any child to escape the annihilation by means of being righteous before God?
Fearfully, there is a nigh-invariable course of depravity which runs in cyclical revolutions from generation to generation! Namely, that the sons follow in the sins of their fathers from generation to generation. This truth is clearly conveyed through the generations of Kings over Israel and Judah.
Concerning the line of Kings over Judah,
Rehoboam caused Judah to do “evil in the sight of the LORD…above all that their fathers had done” (1 Kings 14:22). Abijah “walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father” (1 Kings. 15:3). Notably, Abijah’s sermon shows a profound understanding of the knowledge of God, albeit he was wicked like his father Rehoboam (2 Chron. 13:3-19). Asa broke the cycle and “did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did David his father…But the high places were not removed: nevertheless, Asa’s heart was perfect with the LORD all his days” (1 Kings 15:11, 14). Jehoshaphat “walked in all the ways of Asa his father; he turned not aside from it, doing that which was right in the eyes of the LORD” (1 Kings 22:43). Jehoram “walked in the way of the Kings of Israel, as did the House of Ahab: for the daughter of Ahab was his wife: and he did evil in the sight of the LORD” (2 Kings 8:18). Ahaziah “walked in the way of the House of Ahab, and did evil in the sight of the LORD, as did the House of Ahab: for he was the son in law of the House of Ahab” (2 Kings 8:27). Athaliah, a Queen, “destroyed all the seed royal” after the death of Ahaziah and reigned until Joash, the only remaining son of Ahaziah, grew to be of age where the Kingdom was restored to the proper line (2 Kings 11:1-18). Joash (Jehoahaz) “did that which was right in the sight of the LORD all his days wherein Jehoida the Priest instructed him. But the high places were not taken away: the people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places” (2 Kings 12:2-3). Fearfully, Joash rebelled against the LORD after the death of Jehoida the Priest… thus in the latter end he was a wicked King. Amaziah “did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, yet not like David his father: he did according to all things as Joash his father did. Howbeit the high places were not taken away: as yet the people did sacrifice and burnt incense on the high places” (2 Kings 14:3-4, 2 Chron. 25:2). Azariah (Uzziah) “did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done; Save that the high places were not removed: the people sacrificed and burnt incense still on the high places. And the LORD smote the King, so that he was a leper unto the day of his death…” (2 Kings 15:3-5). Jotham “did that which was right in the sight of the LORD: he did according to all that his father Uzziah had done. Howbeit the high places were not removed: the people sacrificed and burned incense still in the high places…” (2 Kings 15:34-35). Ahaz “did not that which was right in the sight of the LORD his God, like David his father. But he walked in the way of the Kings of Israel, yea, and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel. And he sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree” (2 Kings 16:2-4). Also, Ahaz made a league with Assyria and copied their idolatrous altar, and he reformed the priesthood around it! What an abomination. Hezekiah “did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did. He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan. He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. For he clave to the LORD, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses. And the LORD was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went forth: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not” (2 Kings 18:3-7). Manasseh “did evil in the sight of the LORD, after the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel…Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the children of Israel…moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of the LORD” (2 Kings 21:2-16). Shockingly, though, after Manasseh was chastened by God and imprisoned, he humbled himself to the LORD and besought Him only; and, graciously, the Lord restored him to the Kingdom and Manasseh lived out his last days converted unto God and walking in obedience. Amon “did that which is evil in the sight of the LORD, as his father Manasseh did…he forsook the LORD God of his fathers, and walked not in the way of the LORD” (2 Kings 21:20-22). Josiah “did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left” (2 Kings 22:2). “And like unto him was there no King before him [Josiah], that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him. Notwithstanding the LORD turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal. And the LORD said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the House of which I said, My name shall be there” (2 Kings 23:25-27). Jehoahaz “did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done” (2 Kings 23:32). Jehoiakim “did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done” (2 Kings 23:37). Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) “did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father had done” (2 Kings 24:9). Zedekiah “did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done” (2 Kings 24:19).
As can be clearly seen in the list above, and here rehearsed in summary, Rehohoam rose beyond the crest of rebellion of his predecessor and father, King Solomon, exemplifying the unquenchable thirst of depravity at the first. Abijah, secondarily, being encumbered by a guiltier conscience than his father, only continued in the status quo “sins of his father” and not beyond. Asa, though, on the contrary, and very early on in the line of Kings, broke the cycle of depravity and did “as David his father” had done; thanks be to God. Jehoshaphat, also, following in his train, did as “Asa his father” had done… but, fearfully, demonstrative of a residue of status quo superstition, neither Asa or Jehoshaphat removed the unlawful patriarchal high places; this confirms just how erroneously revered the pastime and present status quo is to all people, including 21st century Christians. This is due cause for sober reflection and introspection lest we, like the Corinthians, are woefully indicted in the word: “but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (2 Cor. 10:12).
Suddenly, and tragically, after this short-lived revival of righteousness, Jehoram swerved into an unprecedented course from all the Kings of Judah before him by following in the way of the Kings of Israel! Why? For similar reasons… it was because he was influenced by the daughter of Ahab, his wife. He couldn’t resist the pastime Family Values. Predictably, Ahaziah his son, also, followed in the ways of his father Jehoram, for he was influenced by his father in law Ahab, and did likewise. Athaliah, though, as an off-shoot, was notoriously self-seeking and murderous. After her unexpected and bloody reign, Joash, the only son of Ahaziah, was able to stand upon the truth as long as he was positively influenced by Jehoida the Priest, a righteous man, …but, fearfully, after Jehoida’s death Joash caved under the pressures of status quo and widely accepted apostasy. A vicious cycle takes its revolutions!
Take note of this carefully: saving faith is exemplified by walking in the ways of David, and nothing short (compare 2 Kings 14:3-4 & 2 Chron. 25:2; see a definitive explanation of “perfection” in the paragraph below). “Almost Christians” are still not Christians, and all is lost for such! “Incomplete Christians” are not real Christians in the sight of God! Thus… Amaziah, caught in the cycle, did what his father Joash did but not what David had done with a perfect heart. Azariah, likewise, did what his father Amaziah did but not what David had done with a perfect heart. Jotham, likewise, did what his father Azariah did but not what David had done with a perfect heart. Then Ahaz, radically swerving from the cycle of depravity in motion among the Kings of Judah, fell a-lusting after the cycle of depravity ravaging the Kings of Israel instead! He, veering from one was sucked into the other like the gravitational pull of orbiting planets! Fearful. God Himself, and none other, must be our center of gravity.
Then, at last, Hezekiah broke the cycle of depravity in motion among the Kings of Judah and returned to the Lord “according to all that David his father did”, hallelujah! This is saving faith. But after him, sadly, Manasseh rebelled more than they all! Perhaps acclimated thereto by the wretched example of Ahaz. Then, at last, on the verge of God’s judgment upon the Kingdom of Judah, Josiah arose! And scarcely so, mind you, nevertheless a revival of righteousness after the ways of David took place gloriously. Then all righteousness and glory was suddenly lost as depravity resumed its course in an ever-increasing stride via the former generational cycle picking up where it left off. Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jeconiah, and Zedekiah, the sons and grandson of Josiah, were all sucked into the unquenchable force until God’s judgment came and Jerusalem was made desolate.
How relevant is The Doctrine of Perfection? In reference to the aforementioned generations of Kings, for example, when the scripture stated of Amaziah, “he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, but not with a perfect heart” (2 Chron. 25:2), this meant, in other words, “he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, yet not like David his father…” (2 Kings 14:3). So, what is perfection? Apparently, David was perfect… right? My reader, let us understand this vital doctrine, even if the language of it is foreign or distasteful to our “Christian Vocabulary”! Don’t let those heretics who preach “sinless perfection” cause you to reject anyone who renders a correct teaching on the matter of biblical perfection. I beg you, please! A correct view of biblical history would prove to us its utter necessity!
When that which is “right in the sight of the LORD” is incompletely defined
and far short of what is perfectly righteous, will you discern it?
Amaziah, caught in the cycle, did what his father Joash did but not what David had done with a perfect heart (2 Kings 14:3-4, 2 Chron. 25:2). Azariah (Uzziah), likewise, did what his father Amaziah did but not what David had done with a perfect heart (2 Kings 15:3-5). Jotham, likewise, did what his father Azariah (Uzziah) did but not what David had done with a perfect heart (2 Kings 15:34-35).
Biblical history describes the lives, generations, and centuries of God’s work of salvation in terms of personal and corporate perfection. Oh, will you hear it!? Depending on whether or not they obtained biblical “perfection”, this determined their destiny of heaven or hell! The scripture explicitly states that Job (Job 1:1, 8, 2:3, 8:20), Noah (Gen. 6:9), Abraham (Gen. 17:1-2), Joshua (Deut. 18:13), David (Psalm 101), Solomon (1 Kings 11:4, with his repentance, which is in Ecclesiastes), Asa (2 Chron. 15:17), and Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:3) went to heaven because they were perfect. As for all other heaven-bound men, even though it was not explicitly mentioned that they were “perfect”, they nevertheless followed the ways of those who were called “perfect”. The scripture, likewise, does explicitly state that Abijam (1 Kings 15:3) and Amaziah (2 Chron. 25:2) went to hell because of a single indictment – that they were NOT perfect. Furthermore, every major vocation is taught the saving expression of their office and duties by the term perfection. Kings (Psalm 101), Priests (Lev. 22:21), Judges (2 Chron. 19:9), Warriors (Ps. 18:32), and all, were taught what it is to be perfect in the execution of their office, and depending on whether or not they were perfect, they went to heaven or hell. All other men and women of every generation were taught perfection in the principle of its meaning, even though the very word is not explicitly used. Let it therefore alarm us, if, haply, we don’t understand what biblical perfection is! For, how shall we escape the declension of Amaziah, Azariah, and Jotham - who did “right in the sight of the LORD” as their fathers had done - but not as David had done with a perfect heart! How susceptible are we to doing what is widely accepted and venerated as “right in the sight of the LORD”, and, at last, we lose our souls! How vulnerable are we to adopt a status quo righteousness as we have been taught and instructed by our fathers (a righteousness supported by scripture but far short of perfection), so that all our faith and practice as we know it amasses to an unpardonable violation of The Doctrine of Perfection before the Judgment Seat of Christ!
Did not our Lord say, “And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasure of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection” (Lk. 8:14)? Here, in this text, a “perfect repentance” is exactly what God is expecting and demanding! And because John the Baptist understood this doctrine he commanded the 1st century Jews, “Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father…” (Lk. 3:8). If John the Baptist were here today he would preach this to the Christians of this century! The only difference is, Christians don’t say, “We have Abraham to our father”, rather they say, “We have God as our Father and we are eternally secure”. This statement may be true, notwithstanding Christ was burdened for the perfection of God’s children when He said, “Be watchful, and strength the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God” (Rev. 3:2)! Here, in this text, a perfect repentance is God’s expectation, and without it Christ warned that He would blot their name out of the Book of Life (see Rev. 3:5)! What does this mean? The text is very clear: without perfection, Christ told saints they were eternally insecure! [For an exhaustive study of The Doctrine of Perfection, see: “A Partial Completion of the Gospel – Present Progressive Salvation Explained” (chapter 19), “Perfection” (chapter 19, section 2), “Blameless” (chapter 19, section 3), “Holiness & Sanctification” (chapter 19, section 4), “Without Spot & Blemish” (chapter 19, section 5), “The New Testament Gospel Call to Worthiness” (Chapter 22).]
Concerning the line of Kings over Israel,
In the case of Jeroboam, the first King of Israel – who authored a new religion of Counterfeit Judaism (1 Kings 12:25-33) – it was written that “this thing became sin unto the House of Jeroboam” (1 Kings 13:34). The children followed, yes, and so did the nation from generation to generation! Describing this, Jeroboam’s sin was said to be: “his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin” (1 Kings 16:26). Nadab “did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin” (1 Kings 15:26). Baasha “did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin” (1 Kings 15:34). Elah, like Baasha, “made Israel to sin” and walked in the same ways (1 Kings 16:13). Zimri “sinned in doing evil in the sight of the LORD, in walking in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin which he did, to make Israel to sin” (1 Kings 16:19). Omri “wrought evil in the eyes of the LORD, and did worse than all that were before him. For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin, to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger with their vanities” (1 Kings 16:25-26). Ahab “did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him. And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal King of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the Kings of Israel that were before him” (1 Kings 16:30-33). Ahaziah “walked in the way of his father, and in the way of his mother, and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin” (1 Kings 22:52). Jehoram “wrought evil in the sight of the LORD; but not like his father, and like his mother: for he put away the image of Baal that his father had made. Nevertheless he cleaved unto the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin; he departed not therefrom” (2 Kings 3:2-3). Jehu “destroyed Baal out of Israel. Howbeit from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, Jehu departed not from after them, to wit, the golden calves that were in Bethel, and that were in Dan. And the LORD said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel. But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the LORD God of Israel with all his heart: for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin” (2 Kings 10:28-31). Jehoahaz “did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, and followed the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin; he departed not therefrom. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and He delivered them into the hand of Hazael King of Syria, and into the hand of Benhadad the son of Hazael, all their days. And Jehoahaz besought the LORD, and the LORD hearkened unto him: for He saw the oppression of Israel, because the King of Syria oppressed them. (And the LORD gave Israel a Saviour, so that they went out from under the hand of the Syrians: and the children of Israel dwelt in their tents, as beforetime. Nevertheless they departed not from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, who made Israel to sin, but walked therein: and there remained the grove also in Samaria.)” (2 Kings 13:2-6). Jehoash “did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD; he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin: but he walked therein” (2 Kings 13:11). Jeroboam “did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin” (2 Kings 14:24). Zachariah, the last of the sons of Jehu, “did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, as his fathers had done: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin” (2 Kings 15:9). Shallum (reigned a month). Menahem “did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not all his days from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin” (2 Kings 15:18). Pekahiah “did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin” (2 Kings 15:24). Pekah “did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin” (2 Kings 15:28). Hoshea “did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, but not as the Kings of Israel that were before him” (2 Kings 17:2). Finally, it was in the days of Hoshea that the Assyrian Captivity took place. “And the LORD rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight. For he rent Israel from the house of David; and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king: and Jeroboam drave Israel from following the LORD, and made them sin a great sin. For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them; Until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day” (2 Kings 17:20-23).
As it can be clearly seen in the list above, and here rehearsed in summary, Jeroboam began as the first King of Israel and he, having authored a system of Counterfeit Judaism through two golden calves, became the most notable example of the near-unbreakable cycle of depravity set in motion from generation to generation among the Kings of Israel. In reference to Jeroboam’s sins which passed – fathers-to-children – from generation to generation, and momentarily among the Kings of Judah, Jeroboam’s name and actions were mentioned over and over again because he was the foremost owner of responsibility. As many as there were Kings of Israel, the name or actions of Jeroboam the son of Nebat were explicitly mentioned. Do you think God is trying to tell us something with this explicit and person-specific account of Church History? For, surely, the same cycle of depravity is still in motion today! Do you know the men and methods who bear utmost responsibility, or are you blindly following in their train? Think of it, my reader! There was not one single King of Israel who was able to break free from the evil cycle of depravity which accelerated in its revolutions from generation to generation, until judgment came. God have mercy!
With all these examples in mind, and the following, the precise language and scriptural emphasis of God is justified in that, verily, the children followed in and died in the sins of their fathers. Responsibility is pointedly attributed to the fathers because they authored new dimensions of depravity, as the heroes of hell, and in so doing they set a precedent to follow which unleashed an unquenchable cycle of depravity upon their children which, according to history, was nigh-inescapable! God have mercy. In as much as the stroke of annihilation invariably passed from Fathers to children throughout Biblical Church History, the dominance of cyclical generational depravity is demonstrated. Graciously, the LORD is warning us of man’s vulnerability to this cycle of normalized wickedness so that we, like they, do not follow in the sins of our fathers. (For more information on this subject, see: “God’s Longsuffering & Abundant Working Among Backsliders” & “Time Has Run Out!”.)
For another example, consider Adam the first. Even with Adam the first, the father of all sinners, of whom it was said, “by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin” (Rom. 5:12), and, “in Adam all die” (1 Cor. 15:22), we can see a just emphasis on Adam’s guilt but also a righteous clarification of guilt in all of Adam’s children. Adam’s guilt was emphatically stated, and justly so, but take heed to the qualification which demonstrates unanimity to the aforementioned proofs: the qualification of Romans 5:12 is, “and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” As a thematic whole, look upon the whole passage of scriptures.
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.” – Romans 5:12-14
Emphatic guilt was attributed to the father, the precedent-setter, the depravity-unleasher, Adam the first, but had not Adam’s children sinned as individuals before God then, verily, physical death would not have passed upon all men (“so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned”). This point is thoroughly proven at various times throughout Biblical Church History, like the aforementioned citations of scripture have already proven, but for conscience’s sake, and in admiration of how comprehensive scriptural testimony does prove the right, consider the following.