Apparently, millions of people make a hobby of researching their family tree. It seems that the best place to start is the present – what you know and what information you can gain from parents, grandparents and other family members. I grew up knowing almost nothing of my family lines. Things were never talked about and I knew not to ask. However, when someone from my family went to my father’s birth-place and then to my mother’s, he brought back snippets of information which revealed the shame and poverty of my ancestors. But the grace of God has been operating in my life from childhood. It’s changed the curse into blessing, and set me, and my descendants, free from generational bondage.
The truth of our families is a reality. God designed families to be modelled on His parenthood, but, as many of us know, that’s often the exception rather than the rule. God intended our parents to be the most meaningful people in our lives as we’re growing up, but they’ve been influenced by the limitations of their upbringing. Whether we think about it or not, we all belong to a family line and are affected by it for good or for ill. To some degree, generational sin and generational blessing affect us all, whether or not we recognise it. We’re influenced in countless ways by the family we’ve been born into – physically, psychologically, emotionally, behaviourally, spiritually – this influence affects almost every aspect of life.
We read in the bible, ‘The LORD is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation’ (Numbers 14:18, ESV). I believe that this visiting of iniquity means that we receive into our lives the consequences of our ancestor’s sins. Sometimes this visiting of iniquity, or propensity to sin, means that we end up committing the same sins as our ancestors.
As we see our own brokenness, in the light of our ancestors, we can come before God and identify with their sin and our own. We may not have done the exact things they have done, but to be free we need to forgive our ancestors for their sins which have affected us in any way, and, if appropriate, we need to humble ourselves and confess to God that their rebellion and arrogance is also trapped in our hearts.
Sometimes we want to blame every present problem on generational sin, which sends us repeatedly digging into our past. We’re unwilling to bring our own sin into the light, because we feel ashamed. However, because God is holy, He asks us to come to Him in reality and uncompromising honesty, relying on His grace. Like Nehemiah, we can pray a prayer of identification, “I and my ancestors have sinned; we have done evil in your sight.”
Our text for today is full of hope. No-one need stay trapped in generational sin, under a generational curse, because Jesus has done all that’s necessary to break its power. He’s ransomed us (purchased our freedom) from the futile (empty and worthless) ways we’ve inherited from our forefathers, by paying the redemption price. Through Him, the hereditary chain of sin is broken by something infinitely more precious than silver or gold, which will eventually perish. Only His death on the cross has the infinite power to liberate us, and put within us burning hearts, abandoned to Him, and overflowing with divine love.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your plan of redemption. Thank You for giving Your Son to forgive and heal me, to ransom me, and to restore me to Yourself. Thank You for the freedom and fullness of life I have in Jesus, whatever my background may be. In consequence of such amazing love, Father, please teach me by Your Spirit what it really means to love You, and, in full surrender, dedicate the whole of my life to live for Your kingdom and Your glory. Amen.