Numbers 14:18 (NLT)
18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger and filled with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. But he does not excuse the guilty. He lays the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations.’

God has control over His own anger such that He is still capable of forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. There are consequences for being in a continued state of sin and those consequences are passed on to the third and fourth generation. But God is also merciful in that the consequences do not continue forever and that families are not forever destroyed.

At seven years old I remember asking my mother why my name was different from hers and my grandparents. I had finally put together the clues I was living in a fatherless home. My father was an abusive alcoholic and his choice to continue in his behavior left us abandoned. Unfortunately there are many more children in America wondering like I did, “where is my father?” And some of the answers they get back are: your father was a jerk; your father was a drug addict; your father was a deadbeat; your father was uncommitted; your father was just a one night stand. This trend creates impacts upon families that take generations to heal. There are indicators of this trend that appear over the decades. In 1960, 1970, 1980 and 1990 respectively: Percentage of births outside of marriage 5.3%, 10.7%, 18.4%, 28.0%; Divorced males per 1000 males 27.4, 33.3, 76.2, 112.5; Male prisoners per 100,000 230, 191, 274, 574; Percentage of children living apart from their fathers 17.5%, 22.4%, 32.2%, 36.3%. These are alarming trends as you watch the numbers increase over the decades. Even between 1970 and 1990 the number of women on welfare services doubled so they could take care of their children. And unless these families turn to God the problems only continue to multiple. God makes a promise that He is the father to the fatherless. If you or you know someone who has been hurt by the abandonment of parents, just know God is there stretching out His hand to take care of the fatherless. Pray for the healing of families. Pray that family sin will not continue. Pray for repentance and restoration of the relationship with the Lord. Pray families will not have to endure suffering more than they need to.