Because Moses destroyed the original tablets of God’s commandments, he has to return to Mount Sinai for God to write out another set.
The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out,
“Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren; the entire family is affected— even children in the third and fourth generations.”
Moses had asked to see God’s glory (Exodus 33:18), and this was God’s response. What is God’s glory? It is his character, his nature, his way of relating to his creatures. Notice that God did not give Moses a vision of his power and majesty but rather of his love. God’s glory is revealed in his mercy, grace, compassion, faithfulness, forgiveness, and justice. God’s love and mercy are truly wonderful, and we benefit from them. We can respond and give glory to God when our character resembles his.
Why would sins affect grandchildren and great-grandchildren? This is no arbitrary punishment. Children still suffer for the sins of their parents. Consider child abuse or alcoholism, for example. While these sins are obvious, more subtle sins like selfishness and greed can be passed along as well. The consequences of sin are not limited to the individual family member. Be careful not to treat sin casually, but repent and turn from it. The sin may cause you little pain now, but it could sting in a most tender area of your life later—your children and grandchildren.
Talk with God about the kind of example you are providing for your children and grandchildren. Ask him to bring out his character in you more and more. And pray that those around you will grow closer to him and stronger in their faith because of you.