Dialogs and Commentary

On Generational Curses

An email response to a FAQ on what are often called "Generational Curses" that people have asked concerning the Bible Study on Demonic Pathology


Psalm 116:10 (NKJ) I believed, therefore I spoke, "I am greatly afflicted."

The term "generational curses" comes from the "law of generations", which God revealed to Moses (text below) and is interestingly present in nearly every religious system in the world, although no one has ever discovered a scientific dynamic of explanation. That the "law of generations" is true, everyone seems to recognize. How it works is another matter.

The idiom of "generation" in the New Testament we believe has nothing to do with the popular notion from the 60s--as in "generation gap"--but rather in the Biblical/Hebraic meaning of "who generated you" or where you come from; generation as in progeny. Keep in mind how keen people were in the first century on progeny--or generation. "We are OF our father Abraham..." said the Jewish religious leaders, and Jesus said, "You are OF your father, the devil." Get it?

"This generation will not pass..." Jesus said to His Jewish audience--meaning the Jews will still be around till the very end of the age... This was a radical promise that, considering what happened in 70 AD and afterward, has nonetheless come true. "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." What do you think? Was Jesus talking about this "generation" as in the 1960s "gap" sense? Or was He talking about "generation" in the sense of race, a meaning offered in the footnotes of many study Bibles? Was Jesus wrong in this prophecy, or are we the ones in error of what "generation" denotes?

In any case, a "familiar spirit" is an interesting pun in English. According to Scripture the effects of sin tend to run in families, and indeed are a curse.

Exodus 34:6-7 (NIV) And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation."

But what does this Old Covenant "generational curse" stuff mean in the practice of a life of faith NOW? What many believers do not know is that through the work of Christ on the cross, we have another option available. This freedom in Messiah was even prophesied in the Old Covenant. What is true must still be believed and actualized by us in practice, so we need to "hear" the word of the Lord and then enter into the "rest" that God has promised.

Long ago, the Jews had taken the above revelation to Moses and turned it into a poetic taunt--impugning God's justice as we will see in the following verses. The prophets report this and make an interesting promise in rebuke--fulfilled in Messiah and to be believed and seized by us!

Ezekiel 18:1-4 (NIV) The word of the Lord came to me: "What do you people mean by quoting this proverb about the land of Israel: 'The fathers eat sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge'? As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel. For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son--both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die."

Ezekiel 18:14-16,18-20 (NIV) "But suppose this son has a son who sees all the sins his father commits, and though he sees them, he does not do such things: He does not eat at the mountain shrines or look to the idols of the house of Israel... He does not oppress anyone... He does not commit robbery, but gives his food to the hungry and provides clothing for the naked... He will not die for his father's sin; he will surely live. But his father will die for his own sin, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother and did what was wrong among his people. Yet you ask, 'Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?' Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees, he will surely live. The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him."

Jeremiah 31:29-32 (NIV) In those days people will no longer say, 'The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge.' Instead, everyone will die for his own sin; whoever eats sour grapes--his own teeth will be set on edge. "The time is coming," declares the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers..."

John 8:11 (NIV) ... Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

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