Day Two – Generational Iniquity

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 19:12, Genesis 12:10-20, 26:6-7

David asked, “Who can discern his errors?” The word “errors” refers to moral mistakes or sins committed through ignorance. While not a habit, an error, if not dealt with immediately, can cause a person to stray from the truth and assume a lifestyle unpleasing to God.

Some moral mistakes evolve from an inherent propensity unknown to us. Another name for this tendency is iniquity. Sin and iniquity have clear distinctions and are mentioned separately in scripture. A sin is missing the mark. An iniquity, however, indicates “a tendency toward” or “having a bent.”

When people say, “Like father, like son,” or “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” they are speaking of behavior that has crossed generational lines. For example, Abram instructed his wife Sarai to lie to Pharaoh, claiming she was Abram’s sister to spare his life. Later Abram’s son Isaac lied about Rebekah being his wife. Isaac, however, took a bolder step than his father did by telling the lie himself.

We can follow this family’s line of deceit throughout the book of Genesis. Isaac and Rebekah named one of their twin sons Jacob—deceiver (Gen. 25:26). Then Jacob tricked his brother and deceived his own father. (Gen. 25:28-34, Gen. 27). The story continues with lies and trickery between Jacob and his father-in-law, between Jacob’s wives, Leah and Rachel; and eventually, between Rachel and her father (Gen. 31:19-35).

The familial deceit carried into the next generation when Jacob’s sons conspired against Joseph, their younger brother, and lied to Jacob that Joseph was dead. Jacob’s own sons allowed him to mourn a death that never occurred (Gen. 37:12-35). The deceiver who tricked his father was fooled by his own sons.

What began as an innocent attempt on Abram’s part to save his own life turned into a tendency toward deceit that was repeated in the family for generations. Who could have discerned that error?

  • What generational tendencies have you seen in your family? How can you change those so future generations are not negatively affected?