The Law of Sin

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‘YHVH is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.’ – Numbers 14:18

It is my understanding that sin unrepented passes on to the behavior of children of the second generation, where there is still a possibility for repentance (a return to God), and then if unrepented is passed on to the third generation too where sin becomes the norm (and those who speak against it are considered bigots). By the time of the fourth generation (approximately 400 years based on the word of YHVH to Avraham- Genesis 15:13-16) sin permeates society and evil is called good, right is called wrong – it is like a cancer that has metastasized and inoperable, incurable, and sin itself will destroy the host.

“Then YHVH said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”

This principle is codified in the Ten Commandments. It is the law of sin, as Jacob (James) points out: “Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.” It was only after the sin of the Amorites in Canaan came to its fullness in the fourth generation that the Hebrews were delivered from bondage in Egypt and Joshua was sent in with the sword to empty the land of those inhabitants.

Count the four generations (approximately 400 years) from Abraham to the children of Israel, of slavery of Israel in Egypt to the Exodus, from the Exodus to the building of the first Temple, four generations to the destruction of the first Temple, then four generations to the second Temple constructions and to the time of Yeshua and then the destruction of the second Temple*, and exactly four hundred years of the Ottoman Turkish rule of Jerusalem to its end and the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel, and now four generations from the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth unto today’s America.

* Traditional rabbinic literature states that the Second Temple stood for 420 years and based on the 2nd-century work Seder Olam Rabbah, placed construction in 350 BCE166 years later than secular estimates, and destruction in 70 CE.

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Elhanan ben-Avraham, born in 1945, is a professional artist, poet, writer and father of two, grandfather of four, living in Israel since 1979. He has served in the IDF, taught the Bible internationally, published five illustrated books of poetry, painted two large Biblical murals in public buildings in Jerusalem, and most recently produced THE JERUSALEM ILLUSTRATED BIBLE, among many other works. He and his wife live in a quiet village in the Mountains of Judah.