Vertical Retribution

I’m wrestling with a concept introduced by TorahClass that I just CANNOT seem to accept. It’s called ‘vertical retribution’, and while I believe it exists in a form, I can’t go along with the formal definition thereof.

The idea is that, if someone does something wrong, there is a verdict of guilt and there is punishment.  I’m ALL good with that.  But then the next part is that if the person who committed the offense is contrite and repentant, the verdict of their guilt remains, as the need for punishment, but the Lord allows a deferrment, or transferral, of punishment to the next (innocent) generation.  And if that generation is contrite and repentant of the offense and walks upright in the eyes of Adonai, they may also ‘pass on’ the punishment to the next generation, and so on.

TorahClass Dude calls this ‘kicking the can down the road’, but I have HUGE issues with this.

First, if you’re a contrite and repentant person, would you not understand that the punishment is YOUR doing and YOURS to bear, and wouldn’t you, as an upright person, TAKE that punishment for yourself?

Second, how FAIR is it that a generation down the road – that might not even have been privy to the offense or even KNOW about it – gets this punishment thrown upon their shoulders when they did nothing wrong?

These things rub me SO WRONG, I can’t begin to tell you.

TorahClass guy said that this happened with Israel often, and that ‘vertical retribution’ is what that verse about the sins of a parent affecting even the third and fourth generations is about.  He used the example of Israel’s generation in the desert as an example… that they denied God’s power to overcome the people in the Promised Land, and rejected Him by proposing they go BACK into sin/Egypt.  Adonai says, “That does it, I’m going to kill everyone, and start over with a new line from Moses.”  Moses intercedes for them, so that the Lord doesn’t off them all, right there – and TorahClass says that that punishment is deferred via ‘vertical retribution’.  This generation gets to live.  As the verse says, “But you (adult Israelites), your carcasses will fall in the desert; and your children will wander about in the desert for 40 years bearing the consequences of your prostitutions until the desert eats up your carcasses.”

Same thing with King Ahab in 1Kings 21:29: “Because Ahab has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the disaster in his lifetime; I will bring the disaster upon his house in his son’s time.”

I can think of other things… King David was a biggie at our suppertime conversation about this.  David was a ‘man after God’s heart’.  His throne established FOREVER, hello.  And yet his kids…!  What a bunch of assholes!  There’s Absolom, the long-haired pompous fool who is slain, then there’s Adonijah, who tries to take David’s throne before he’s even dead, then tries to usurp Solomon by asking Bathsheba to petition on his behalf for David’s other wife Abigail (for which, Solomon promptly has him killed).  And don’t forget the baby that dies for David’s whole Uriah thang… is this ‘vertical retribution’ in action?

I always saw it as a person’s behavior molds the next generation into whatever they’re taught. For example, in the 1930s depression (Brian’s grandparents), children were taught to be hoarders/menders/make-do-ers.  The women had to take jobs outside of the home to stay afloat.  As a result, they tried to give everything good they could to their children… so the next generation (our parents) grew up with everything they could want, which turned them into entitled brats who don’t know want, a generation that doesn’t mend/fix, doesn’t make-do.  A generation that equates stuff to work, so now women are about THEIR careers and lives… which led to OUR generation, the ‘latch-key’ generation that doesn’t know what a meal at the table with family on a weeknight is, that gets everything they want but don’t see the need for hard work because it all comes at someone else’s expense… it’s a MESS, handed down from generation to generation.

But it’s not ‘divine retribution’.  I don’t LIKE or ACCEPT divine retribution.  I accept action/consequence, or behavior/reaction, but not ‘kicking the can down the road’.  My mind rejects it completely.  If David’s kids were jerks, it was because David was impulsive in himself and inattentive to them, and what occured was action/consequence and behavior/reaction.  If Ahab’s son met disaster, it was because Ahab did evil and taught that behavior to his son.  Repentance in him doesn’t change what was taught his son.  That’s not vertical retribution, IMHO.  And as for Israel, the punishment wasn’t deferred in the case of the Promised Land – their generation WAS killed off – in the desert – and their children had to pay, too, but it was not passed forward, that I can see.

Another thing TorahClass taught about ‘vertical retribution’ is that the ‘can’ only gets kicked down the road to Yeshua, and then HE takes the punishment for everyone from that point on.  All punishment past, present, and future.  So, then, any sin we do is no longer passed on to future generations, anymore?  That does NOT jive.  I can’t… no.  Sorry, just… no.

You know where to leave your thoughts on this.  And I could use a few.

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