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Generational poverty

I heard someone recently talking about generational poverty. Basically, it’s when kids who grow up in poverty stay impoverished as adults and grow up a new generation (their kids) into poverty. Left unchecked it becomes multi-generational – one generation after another never moving out of poverty.

Something in my reading this morning reminded me of that. I’m just about done with Jeremiah. The last few chapters contain a lot of doom prophecies against nations around Israel. But one caught my attention this morning.

To the nation of Ammon, Jeremiah wrote:

You are proud of your fertile valleys, but they will soon be ruined. You trusted in your wealth, you rebellious daughter, and thought no one could ever harm you. Jeremiah 49:4 (NLT)

Why so interesting? Because of a parallel I see here. Let me see if I can walk through the thought process that made it stand out (none of the commentaries or notes I read mentioned it):

  • Ammon was the nation descended from Ben-Ammi. Ben-Ammi was the son of Lot and his youngest daughter (Genesis 19:30-38).
  • The reason Lot had that daughter is because he left Abraham and settled in the fertile Jordan Valley near Sodom, and finally ended up married to a woman of Sodom and a politician in the city (Genesis 13:10-13; 14:12; 19:1-2).
  • The reason they left Sodom was because of God’s destruction of the city and the entire valley. Lot’s wife could not leave her wealth and family behind and was caught up in the destruction (Genesis 19:15-26).

Do you see the parallel? Fifteen hundred years after Ben-Ammi was born into a spiritually impoverished family, the Ammonites were still opposing God. Like in Lot’s day, their “fertile valleys” of which they were so proud would “soon be ruined”. Like Lot’s wife, they “trusted in [their] wealth,” but it could not save them. Like Lot’s daughters, they were still “rebellious”.

None of us want our families to be impoverished. Most work hard to make sure it never happens. Let’s be certain to work just as hard so we do not allow our families to enter a spiritual poverty that could affect many generations.

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