Why does God essentially declare death to all of Ahab's descendants (1 Kings 21:22,29) as a result of his sin, yet also proclaim (2 Kings 14:6/Deuteronomy 24:16 ) that children are not to be put to death for their parents sins? How is this not a contradiction? -- Matt Bates
It is a contradiction. At least on the surface. But not necessarily an irresoluble one, especially when we take into account the Lord’s foreknowledge and providence.
God knew the utter sinfulness of the line of Ahab. Why would we imagine his family weren’t to be punished for their own sins? The connection with Ahab is one of influence. Like father, like son… His descendants were affected by the godlessness of Ahab -- and of course his pagan wife, Jezebel, a Sidonian whose father was high up in the hierarchy of Ba'al worship.
See also Exodus 20: The effects of sin (esp, as we imitate our parents, or react in a selfish or ungodly way to them) may take 3 or 4 generations to run its course. It’s like a fire that will eventually burn itself out.
As sinners we still have free will. But the more we sin, the less control (godly control) we possess, and the more frequently our behavior can be predicted.
In terms of the Lord’s foreknowledge, God knows what Jehu will do. Whether this is a direct punishment from God or only indirect is not stated. Such are seldom distinguished in the Bible. That is, we distinguish primary and secondary causation. In biblical times, pretty much everything is ascribed to God (the good and the bad).
Think about this. God is fair (your unstated root concern). To appreciate his ways, we need to make the effort to enter the biblical world: not only its geography and history, but also its thought forms -- even when they are mentally uncomfortable or give us a headache. 🙂