I have lately been noticing how certain things in this world take after other things. One example is that dogs bark. Dogs bark because they are dogs. Their fathers barked and their grandfathers barked. Even their ancient relatives barked; all because they are dogs. Cats meow and purr. Because they are cats, they all make the same type noises. This week we are going to examine a similar spiritual parallel in the lives of men.
Now, when I say men, please understand that I mean mankind. We all know that we pass along certain traits to our children genetically. Some medical conditions are inherited. For instance, your doctor may ask you about your family’s medical history. The purpose of this is to see if you might be susceptible to heart disease, cancer, diabetes or some other disease that “runs in the family”. We know that some physical characteristics are obtained from our parents. You might have curly hair like your mother or blue eyes like your father. Your nose might have a distinctive shape like your dad or your stature could be determined by the height those in your family tree. This week we shall see that we can pick up spiritual things from our fathers, both good and bad.
There are some scriptures in the Old Testament that sound very strange. They almost sound like God isn’t fair. Please read Exodus 20:5 and 34:5-8 with me. These two passages have an unusual phrase. God says He will visit the iniquity of the fathers on the children till the third and fourth generation. Why would we be guilty of sins that our parents did? Before we look at the answer, let’s look at examples that the Lord left us in His Word.
Our first example passage is Genesis chapter 20.Readingdown we see that Abraham was in fear in a strange place. He was afraid that, because Sarah was beautiful, she would be taken from him and he would be killed. His plan was to tell Abimelech that Sarah was his sister. God came to Abimelech in a dream and told him that he was a dead man for taking another man’s wife. Abimelech explained to the Lord that he had no idea that she was married and asked to be forgiven as he had done this in ignorance. Also, he had not touched Sarah. The Lord knew, of course, and told Abimelech to give Abraham back his wife.
I think it’s interesting that this great man of faith (Abraham) had obvious shortcomings and sins. God allowed us to see this for a purpose. Remember last week when I said that everything was in the Bible for a purpose? Think of all of the stories that we could have about Abraham. God chose these few stories for the ordained purpose of teaching us great spiritual lessons. So what’s so wrong with a little white lie? Hold on my friend. There’s more to the story!
Abraham eventually had the child of promise, Isaac. If you will remember, Isaac is the son that God tested Abraham to see if he would sacrifice him. The sacrifice was stopped and Isaac grew up to be a man of God. Let’s read in Genesis 26:1-11. Here Isaac has to come into thelandofGerarbecause of a famine. God tells him to live here and that He would take care of Isaac and his future children. Even though he has God’s direct word to protect him, Isaac does something foolish. He is asked one day about Rebekah. In fear he tells the men that she is his sister. Does this sound familiar?
Even with the direct promise of God, Isaac lied about his wife, too. Remember something; the first example given with Abraham occurred before Isaac was born. This is important as you will see in a minute. If you’ve studied the Old Testament genealogies you will remember that Abraham was the father of the nation ofIsrael. Next in line comes Isaac and then his son, Jacob. Now, Jacob had a twin brother named Esau who was born first. In Jewish lineage the firstborn son gets the inheritance of a double portion.
The oldest son is the one who takes a larger part than do his siblings. A good illustration of this importance is in one passage (Gen 38:27-30) where twins were being born and one put his hand out first. The midwife tied a red thread on it and when the mother was finished giving birth, this baby came out second. However since he had the scarlet thread, he was considered the first born.
Back to Jacob, he was the second born of twins. Esau, by right, should have received the birthright of his father. This would have been given by Isaac’s blessing at the end of his life. In a few instances, the father chose not to give the blessing to the firstborn. But almost every time this was the line that was followed. Now, Jacob’s name actually means supplanter or deceiver. One day, he tricked Esau out of his birthright (Genesis 25:29-34). Esau had been hunting and was extremely hungry. Jacob had made stew and Esau asked him for it. He told Esau that he would trade him some stew for the birthright (inheritance). Esau was so hungry that he did it.
Later when Isaac was near the end of his life, he had prepared to bless Esau with the official blessing of the family line (chapter 27). He asked Esau to go out and kill a deer and make him some stew. Now, Isaac was old and almost blind. While Esau was out hunting, Jacob came in and pretended to be him. He lied to his father and tricked him into pronouncing the blessing on him. Where did Jacob learn such deception? Just look back at the family he comes from. Was Abraham guilty of his lies? Of course, Isaac and Jacob were too. Each man was responsible for his own sins. Yet, he is painted with the brush strokes to resemble his father. God could have shown us other attributes of these three men. Yet, He chose to let us see that they had a habit of lying.
I mentioned earlier that Abraham lied about Sarah before Isaac was born. Isaac could have heard the story of his father lying about his mother but I think it goes deeper than that. I believe it was merely the tip of the iceberg. It’s my opinion that this was only one time shown but the lying was habitual. I could be wrong. Either way, God wants us to see a pattern here. Now, let’s go back to the original scripture of Exodus 20:5. The Lord says that He will visit the sins of the fathers on the third and fourth generation. We could misinterpret this to mean that God punishes people for something their fathers did. I think the examples I gave prove that is not true.
Even the ungodly counselors of this world know that many behavior patterns are hereditary. A person who has been abused often grows up abusing his own children. Someone who drinks alcohol or smokes is more likely to have children that do. Someone who has a sexual sin often passes that weakness on to his children. Another good example that comes to mind is David and Solomon. David had a weakness with Bathsheba. Solomon, the son of David with Bathsheba, has such a weakness with the ladies that he married hundreds of women!
Now, what does this mean to us today? First, this should make you very alarmed as a father in your character before God and your family. I believe that even the secret sins a man has can open spiritual doors for disaster to his children. He may hide his weakness but still cause his children to suffer. As a Dad, you should take this very seriously. Anything that you have in your life that you wouldn’t want your children to pick up must be broken immediately.
Now, some of you might have had a lineage of ungodly, unsaved men. You have been saved and the Blood of Jesus covers your sin and justifies you before God. At first thought you might think that’s all there is to it. But remember that these men we studied today were men of God’s covenant. I believe that we must break generational curses through prayer and diligence of living righteously. You need to lift this need up to the Lord and recognize that it is a serious threat to your life and the lives of your children. Look at this passage:
“Those of you who are left will waste away in the lands of their enemies because of their sins; also because of their fathers’ sin they will waste away. But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their fathers – their treachery against me and their hostility toward me, which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies – then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.” (Underlines added for emphasis)
Isn’t that interesting? God says to confess our sins and the sins of our fathers. Please don’t misinterpret this to mean that we can ask forgiveness for our sinful fathers and that they can be saved after they are dead. God says that it’s appointed to man once to die and after this is the judgment. The confession is simply recognition of the weaknesses you have been exposed to from simply being in a certain family. You acknowledge before God that you need help in this area.
Mothers, perhaps you are a single parent and there is no father for your children. This makes raising Godly children even more difficult. Without the father figure to influence your children they will struggle even more. But it’s not impossible. God can help you through, also. He promised that He would be a Father to the fatherless (Ps 68:5). If this is your situation, call on Him today to help you. He will be the Father that your children need.
Perhaps you are the parent of an adult who is already living on their own. You might be wishing that you had known this years ago when the children were at home. I believe that you can still break the generational sins of your family. Pray that the Lord reveals what those sins are and, as God leads, you might want to go to your children with it. There is power in a humble heart and love. Perhaps they are battling the same things that you did.
As you think on these things this week, seek out God and what He is saying to you. Think about future generations of your children. Changes you will make now will affect them for the future. It’s worth the effort.
I want to end with a statement I heard once-“Whatever you do in moderation, your children will do in excess”. Think about it…
You have given us life through the Son, Jesus Christ. It’s our desire to live a pure life. While we may be weakened by sins of the past, we confess our sins and the sins of our forefathers. Forgive us and cause us to be aware of areas that the enemy has a foothold in. Let us walk the straight path for future generations to be blessed through.
In Jesus Name-Amen
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