Parables: Painting an Image of God

We have a God who has always leaned heavily towards mercy. There is a great repeating phrase in the Torah that says that God will punish to the third or fourth generation, which is really extreme. If you make a mistake God will punish your children, your grandchildren, your great-grandchildren, and your great-great grandchildren. But that was actually standard fare for the day for what a leader was going to do. But then God goes on to say that I will offer mercy to the thousandth generation, which swamps the third or fourth generations through this great act of love.