Has God’s Promise Expired?

Does the following scripture in Deuteronomy 6: 1-2 only mean that this promise is only to last for 3 generations? Has this promise expired?

“And this is the commandment, the statutes and the laws, the Lord your God commanded to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing into to inherit. So that you will fear the Lord your God to guard all His statutes and commandments, which I command you, your children, and your children’s children, all the days of your life, and so that your days may be lengthened.”

Thank you,

Lucas

Dear Lucas,

We do not know in which part of the world you live, but we don’t think that the United States is alone in accruing debt that will make the lives of our children and grandchildren poorer. How can citizens allow their government to do such an immoral thing as spending money today that will have to be repaid by the next generation? Partially because, as religion and religious values become less widespread in society, people’s time focus narrows. They no longer value the past and they cannot envision the future.

This is in sharp contradiction to a Biblical view. When the Bible speaks of our fathers, as it does for example when it states a few verses after the ones you cited that God will bring us into the land that He promised to our fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that refers to ancestors. The generation coming into the Land of Canaan are generations removed into the future from these three men. Similarly, one’s children and children’s children in the Bible means one’s descendants through the ages.


In ancient Jewish wisdom, three establishes a commitment. Imagine that one year, after lots of discussion, you host Thanksgiving dinner for your siblings and the entire family. The next year, you will get questions asking if you will host again. You will receive fewer questions the following year. After three years of the dinner being in your home, the assumption will be that you are hosting. If you buy your wife flowers for the Sabbath for three weeks in a row, we hope she would still be grateful on week four, but we would also suspect that she would have the vase already picked out and waiting.

God’s commitment to His children started with Abraham and was secured by the third generation via Jacob. His contract with their children still stands today.

Live in the past, present, and future,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

This Ask the Rabbi is dedicated in memory of Tomer Shpirer, age 37, who was murdered by Hamas terrorists while out riding his bike on October 7, 2023. He was training for a competition when sirens went off and was shot as he attempted to drive home. He is survived by his wife, two children, his parents, and siblings.

And with prayers for the safe return of all the hostages and among them, Eden Yerushalmi, age 24. Eden hid in a car pretending to be dead, next to the bodies of two murdered friends. After leaving the car to hide in thorn bushes, she was captured.


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