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Will God punish my family for MY sins?
A Visitor's Comments on Life Spans After the Flood

Will God punish my family for MY sins?

Visitor's Question
Robert writes - My wife and I were wondering about a curious verse in 1 Kings 21:29.

In that verse, Elijah tells King Ahab that God is basically going to punish him because of his sin of stealing Naboth's vineyard.

Upon hearing this, Ahab repents. Because of Ahab's repentance, God says that He will not punish him--but then says that He'll visit the calamity on Ahab's son!

Did this not imply that God had just decided to punish Ahab's son for his father's sin?
  [God told Elijah...] See how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the calamity in his days. In the days of his son I will bring the calamity on his house. 1 Kings 21.29

Biblebell's reply
To start with, notice that God will bring calamity upon Ahab's "house."

  • The consequences of Ahab's sin would fall upon Ahab's family and descendants in general, and not just upon Ahab's son in particular.
  • Ahab's son would be affected by calamity to the extent that Ahab's overall household would be affected by calamity.
  In the days of his son I will bring the calamity on his [King Ahab's] house. 1 Kings 21.29b

To understand why Ahab's family will be hurt by Ahab's sin, we need to look at TWO of God's "rules" about sin's consequences.

Rule #1 is easy to understand, but Rule #2 is very surprising.

Here are God's two rules...

  • Rule #1 - God punishes sin.
  • Rule #2 - Sin *hits the fan*

Rule #1 God punishes sin
If I sin and don't repent, God will punish me.

  • God won't punish my family for my sin. He will punish me.
  [God said...] The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. Ezek 18.20

Rule #2 Sin *hits the fan*
In so many words, the Bible passage alongside says, "What goes around comes around!"

  • If I plant poison ivy, I will reap poison ivy.
  • Moreover, anybody who gets close to my poison ivy will suffer. NOT JUST ME.
  • In other words, my sins will cause pain to lots of folks -- NOT JUST ME.
  Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. He who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. Gal 6.7-8

A] Suppose I murder someone. Who will God punish?

  • Rule #1 says -- Me. Nobody else.

But then Rule #2 kicks in.

  • In accordance with Rule #2 the sin ITSELF begins to mete out punishment.
  • My sin punishes the person I killed.
  • My sin punishes the family of the person I killed.
  • My sin inflicts shame and despair upon my own friends and loved ones.
  • And deep inside me, my sin shall send self-hatred and fear to eat away at my guts and mind.
  • Under Rule #2, sin itself inflicts the torture.-->

B] Because of Rule #2, Ahab's sins fell upon his entire house...

  • The hatred and enemies that Ahab made during his lifetime were inherited by his descendants.
  • The distrust Ahab earned by his own deceit was inherited by his household.
  • The friends who turned away from unworthy, unreliable, scheming Ahab ALSO turned away from Ahab's house.
  • God's protective "fence" around Ahab's household was taken down. The wolves and devouring lions of Ahab's enemies then had ready access to destroy the house of Ahab.
  • Ahab made those enemies himself. By Rule #2, God let them have their way.

C] Now then, what does all this have to do with me and THEE? Much in every way!

  • The sinner had best remember Rule #1 -- God punishes sin.
  • But, for those IN Christ Jesus, there's good news! Repent and confess your sins, and God will forgive you.
  • Forgiveness is wonderful, but does God's mercy give sinners a license to sin, confess, and get off *scot free*?
  • BOOM! Do not forget -- there's still Rule #2!
  If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1.9

Two hypothetical case studies in Rule #2

#1 - Fred murders someone

  • Fred repents and pleads the blood of Jesus.
  • God forgives Fred.
  • But Fred still goes to prison. Fred's victim is still dead.
  • The victim's family & Fred's family suffer for years to come. -->

#2 Louise commits adultery

  • Louise repents and confesses.
  • God forgives Louise.
  • Louise still gets AIDS.
  • Louise is discovered to be pregnant.
  • Louise infects her unborn child.
  • The suffering for Louise's sin has only just begun.

Side Note: God didn't give Louise AIDS. No. It was LOUISE who gave Louise AIDS.

In case anyone gets the idea that God's mercy provides a LICENSE to sin, let that person remember Ahab! AND let that person Remember Rule #2...

  • Be sure, your sins WILL find you out.
  • If you sow to the flesh you WILL of the flesh reap corruption.
  • God won't punish your family for your sins. YOU will!
  Our sins testify against us. Our transgressions are with us. ...and be sure your sin will find you out.
Isa 59.12b; Num 32.23b

He who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption
Gal 6.8a

A Visitor's Comments on Life Spans After the Flood


  • Part 1 of this page is a verbatim quote of a Visitor's comments concerning Biblebell's article about human life spans after the flood in Noah's days.
  • Part 2, provided for ease of reference, is a copy of Biblebell's article that the visitor is discussing.

Part 1: Visitor's Comments

Longevity in Genesis

Many Christians have assumed that the reason for the dramatic decrease in human life spans after the flood was due to environmental factors like increased solar radiation, eating meat, weather changes, and even disease. However, the genealogical data given to us in Genesis makes such a conclusion very unlikely for the following reasons:

  • Noah lived to be 950 years of age and lived nearly 40% of his life AFTER the flood. Noah lived to see the 75th birthday of Abraham! Abraham was his great great great great great great great great grandson. If Noah was exposed to the same environmental factors as the next 9 generations then he would have begun to age more rapidly as soon as the flood was over.
  • If one looks at the genealogies of Genesis diagrammed as a timeline one discovers that life span decreased by generation, not by date. This distinction is hard to catch, but the implications are dramatic. If an environmental factor were causing the life spans to decrease, then people would have started aging more rapidly altogether regardless of their generation.
  • Today, avoiding solar radiation, avoiding meat, living indoors, and maintaining a disease-free environment does not increase human life span. In fact, many diseases are associated with vegetarianism and too little exposure to the sun.

But enough of the evidence against environmental factors. Is there an alternative?

Yes, as any student of Population Genetics will tell you, a dramatic decrease in population size is always accompanied by a loss of genetic diversity. This is known as a "population bottleneck". For example, God may have originally given humanity 75 different genes for hair color, but we don't have that many now. This can happen because parents only pass on 50% of their genetic information to each child. Some genes simply die with their possessors.

During the flood, the human population was reduced to only 5 genetically unique individuals!!! (Noah's children don't count because they could not possess any genes their parent's did not.) and with each successive generation some genes simply failed to survive.

As the population grew, however, the amount lost with each generation decreased. Eventually the amount of genetic loss stabilized as the population became very large.

Genetic loss is associated with a loss of fitness. We see it, in the Biblical record, as a loss of life span by generation. This view is supported by two pieces of evidence:

  • 1) Earlier generations were outliving many of their descendants.
  • 2) In modern times, the effects of population bottlenecks on animal species match what happened to humanity after the flood.

Further speculation into the reason for God giving us animals to eat after the flood leads me to conclude that the genetic loss caused by the population bottleneck may have included the ability to manufacture essential nutrients from the foods we were previously given to eat.

For example, if our bodies could manufacture antioxidants, essential fatty acids, all the amino acids, and various other nutrients from vegetable matter, then we wouldn't need to eat animals. But as most vegetarians discover, we cannot limit our diets to vegetables without suffering severe deficiencies. God may have given animals as food in anticipation of this lost capacity.

(The visitor who wrote the above article invites you to "feel free to send comments and questions to" )

Part 2: Quote of Biblebell's write-up that is discussed by the above visitor comments
Many people ask, "Why did the people in Genesis live so long?" Perhaps the better question would be, "Why do people die at all?"

God did not create people to die. Had sin not entered the world, people would have lived forever. (Gen 2.17, 3.19; Rom 5.12)

Two reasons why life spans gradually decreased are...

1) Before the flood, the earth was surrounded by a shell of ice. You can read about its origin at <>.

  • This shell of ice protected the earth's inhabitants from the harmful radiation that emanates from the sun and other bodies in outer space.
  • At the time of the flood, "the windows of heaven were opened" whereby God collapsed the ice shell onto the earth as a rainfall lasting 40 days and nights. (Gen 7.10-12)
  • Following this flood, the earth was no longer protected by the shell of ice, so radiation began to cause genetic damage in the human race. This genetic damage progressed as it passed on from generation to generation, thus causing life spans to decrease.

2) Before the flood, all people and animals were herbivores (they ate only vegetables, NO meat) -- Gen 1.29-30.

  • After the flood, people and animals became flesh eaters -- Gen 9.3-6. (In the future Millennium, God will reinstate the herbivorous nature of His creatures - Isaiah 11.6-9)
  • Among the animals that became flesh eaters were those we call bacteria and viruses. These microscopic & sub-microscopic animals also began feeding on flesh. Thus began "illness" & this, too, shortened human life spans.

When ordaining the flood of Noah, God announced that the life expectancy of humans would almost immediately be reduced to 120 years (Gen 6.3). In Psalm 90.10, the life expectancy was further reduced to "threescore and ten years" -- 70 years of age.


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