but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
Deuteronomy 5 is a list of all the Ten Commandments once again, and the verse for today is actually part of the elaboration of the 2nd commandment, and is exactly the same as Exodus 20:6, since Exodus 20 is where the Ten Commandments were first listed. This is the entirety of the second Commandment – You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 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, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments [Exo 20:4-6, Deu 5:8-10]. In this study we will simply meditate on the countless, eternal love that God has reserved for us.
showing love – Some people love, but they hardly show it. They won’t say it, until they’re on their deathbed maybe, they won’t express it through acts of affection like hugs and kisses, they won’t ever admit it. But they do love, and their love could easily be greater than those who say ‘I love you’ all the time. Our God is not that type – he expresses his love and he shows it. Well, it may not be in the form of hugs and kisses, but he shows it in ways that you can see, feel and notice, as long as you’re looking out for it. He has said he loves us numerous times in the past before, and if you need to hear it again, well, just read the Bible.
to a thousand generations – This is kind of romantic, isn’t it? The love to a thousand generations. The love of a thousand generations. I think immediately of those dramas that involve a time-warping romance. It has been rather common recently, in Asian Television, for dramas of this genre – to love you for 1000 years. From the Tang Dynasty to the modern time, for example. Stories of how love transcended time. And all those Korean and Japanese dramas. Time-travelling romance isn’t new to Hollywood either. But those are what they are – stories. Here, what we are talking about is real. And it’s not just 1000 years. It’s 1000 generations. It probably means for eternity here, but because we humans can hardly comprehend the concept of eternity, Moses put it into a frame for us – 1000 generations. It wasn’t just mentioned once – it was repeated in Deu 7:9, it was repeated by Jeremiah, though he put the same idea across in a simpler way – You show love to thousands [Jer 32:18]. This is a convenant of a thousand generations, beyond a thousand generations. God’s love is a convenant of a thousand generations. What does 1000 generations mean? At least 20,000 years, no? I wonder if there are already 1000 generations between us and Adam and Eve. I’m not even going to attempt to count. What does this mean? Well, it means I’m not even going to attempt to count the extent of God’s love for us. It’s simply too astronomical a figure for me.
of those who love me and keep my commandments – there is a condition, however. This love to a thousand generations applies exclusively to those who love him and keep his commandments. God detests sinners who do not repent – You hate all who do wrong [Psalm 5:5]. It is true that God loves the sinner while he detests the sin, but his patience and tolerance of sin is not eternal. He loves the sinner, and always gives those who sinned an opportunity to repent and turn to him, but should they not, and continue to dwell in sin and reject him again and again, there will come a time when his patience should run out, and his judgement will come. At that point, there is no longer love for the sinner, but detest. Just like city of Nineveh, who was first prophesied for destruction by Jonah, but yet was saved by God’s grace when they repented [Jonah 3:10] – yet Nineveh was eventually indeed destroyed in the time of Nahum, when they refused to repent, and God stopped tolerating their sinfulness [Nahum 1:14].
but – the verse prior to this is an example of that as well. The term ‘but’ offers a huge contrast between this verse the the preceding verse – 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 [Deu 5:9]. Difference between the two? Really, it’s about just two kinds of people – those who hate the Lord, and those who love the Lord. Love, genuine love, which is evidenced by following his commandments. But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children [Psalm 103:17].
Now, do you love God? If you do love God, if you do keep his commandments, then won’t you enjoy his love that transcends time, transcends space, transcends every single barrier known to men? A love that’s possible to a thousand generations; for a thousand generations. A lasting, unending and faithful love. A love that is shown, is expressed. This is greater than any romance novel or film. Because this love is more genuine than any other.