God says He visits the sins of the father upon the children in the Ten Commandments:
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image — any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” (Exodus 20:4-6).
This word is repeated in Exodus 34:5-7, Deuteronomy 5:8-10, and Isaiah 65:6-7. Jeremiah also affirms the same principle: “Our fathers sinned and are no more, but we bear their iniquities.” (Lamentation 5:7).
The God who affirmed this principle in the Old Testament was Jesus. Jesus also confirms this in the New Testament by telling the Pharisees:
“You are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.” (Matthew 23:29;36).
It was David who sinned by committing adultery with Bathsheba and by killing Uriah her husband, but it was his son who died.
God’s judgment that the sword would not depart on David’s house was visited on his children. His son, Absalom, killed another son, Amnon, in revenge for raping his sister, Tamar. Absalom himself was killed by Joab when he tried to overthrow David, his father. His son, Solomon, also killed his older brother, Adonijah.
God’s other judgment that David’s wives would be abused in the sight of all Israel was executed by Absalom, who raped David’s concubines “publicly” to demonstrate that he would never be reconciled to his father.
What seems to bring confusion is another statement in the Old Testament where God says:
“Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin.” (Deuteronomy 24:16).
This is again repeated in Jeremiah: “In those days they shall say no more: ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ But every one shall die for his own iniquity; every man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.” (Jeremiah 31:29-30).
However, on closer inspection, we discover that there is no contradiction. Neither should it be said that one scripture revokes the other. Jesus assures us: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” (Matthew 24:35).
The truth is that these scriptures refer to different judgments. It is important to identify precisely what each refers to and to make a distinction between personal judgments, generational judgments, and national judgments.
It is also necessary to note that the innocent are often required to bear the iniquity of the guilty, and the principle of like father, like son, is actually set in nature.
Gravity of sin
Sin should never be taken for granted. Every sin does not just affect the sinner, it often has implications for the innocent. A drunk driver kills innocent bystanders on the road. An armed robber kills the innocent in the bank. This happens all the time.
It is also evident that children often bear the traits, features, and characters of their parents. And so, the father is bad-tempered, and so is the son. The father is a womaniser and so is the son. The father is a drug addict, and so is the son.
Sicknesses are also passed down generationally. High blood pressure often runs in the family. So does cancer. If the trait is in the father, it is likely to also be in the son.
A lying spirit was evident in the house of Abraham. He lied to Pharaoh that Sarah was his sister. His son Isaac continued in this lying tradition. He also lied to the men of Gerar that Rebecca was his sister. In turn, Isaac’s son, Jacob, lied to his father by pretending to be his brother, Esau. Later on, the sons of Jacob also lied to him about Joseph, who they sold into slavery.
Sexual sin was evident in the house of David. David committed adultery with Bathsheba. His son, Amnon, raped his daughter, Tamar. Another son, Absalom, raped his concubines. Yet another son, Solomon, went nuts over women. He married 700 wives and had 300 concubines.
For this and other reasons, it is imperative for the believer to divorce himself from his natural lineage and ancestry. Therefore, Jesus says: “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.” (Matthew 23:9).
What your ancestors did can affect you adversely if not addressed. So, be careful not to create problems for your children through reckless behaviour. The worst of this is idol worship. Let no problem, difficulty, or issue of blood take you to the Babalawo. By so doing, you are creating a problem that will last four generations.
Observe the following. It was Achan who sinned by stealing the forbidden Babylonish garment, but judgment was passed on his entire house:
“Then Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the garment, the wedge of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and all that he had, and they brought them to the Valley of Achor. And Joshua said, ‘Why have you troubled us? The Lord will trouble you this day.’ So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones.” (Joshua 7:24-25).
Gehazi sinned by seeking a present from Naaman under false pretences but the judgment was passed on him and on his descendants. Elisha said to him: “The leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and your descendants forever.” (2 Kings 5:27).
The same thing happened with the house of Jeroboam (1 Kings 14:1-13) and the house of Ahab (1 Kings 21:20-29).
By the same token, salvation is granted to a house. God decided to kill all humankind in the Flood. “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” (Genesis 6:8). However, the grace that Noah found was extended to his family.
When the jailer asked Paul and Silas what he must do to be saved. They said to him: “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:31). CONTINUED.