Last week I wrote about how, as we live our lives, we are creating a Legacy for ourselves and for our children.   We all have family traits that have been passed down to us from our ancestors; our parents, grandparents or even further back in our family history.   These traits can be a blessing or a curse.  They not only include our personality traits, our habits, skills and talents but also include generational “curses”.  These are some of the more unattractive traits that you see in families such as a tendency toward addictions like alcoholism or drugs.  Some families experience a lot of death from cancer or other diseases.  Some seem to have a lot of crime and generations of relatives that have been in prison; perhaps granddad served time in prison during his lifetime, and dad spent several years in prison and then you will see the son and grandson going to prison for one reason or another.

In my own family we have several of these “curses”.  But we also have a family history of pregnancies occurring out of wedlock.  My grandmother got pregnant at 16 and then quickly married my grandfather back in the 1930’s.  My mother then grew up and got pregnant and married at 17.  I became pregnant and married at 17.  One of my sisters also did this and then passed it down to her daughter.  The pattern, or “curse”, will continue on until someone in the family recognizes the behavioral pattern and says, “Enough”!

Perhaps you’ve heard the verse “….God visits the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generations.”  Numbers 14:18.  This verse can be confusing and just a little scary.  What does it mean?  Let’s look at it more in context – The New Living Translation says, “The Lord is slow to anger and filled with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. But he does not excuse the guilty. He lays the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations.”

2 Kings Chapter 5 gives us a good example of a “generational curse.”  Naaman, a great army commander for the King of Aram (an unfriendly neighbor of Israel), had leprosy.  Leprosy was a horrible skin disease that usually shortened the life of the individual by several years.  An Israeli servant girl of Naaman’s wife told her that a great Prophet in Israel, named Elisha, could cure her husband’s disease.  Naaman then arranged with the King to go seek out Elisha.  He took with him money, gold, silver and beautiful clothes with which he would pay Elisha upon his healing.  At this point I will skip the details, however Elisha, a great man of God, did heal Naaman through God’s power, and Naaman’s flesh was restored and became clean.  Naaman offered to give Elisha all of the riches he had brought with him as a gift.  However, Elisha would not accept any of it.  The good part is that through all of this Naaman came to know and serve the Lord, the God of Israel.

However, the story doesn’t end there.  After Naaman had left Elisha, Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, decided that Elisha was too easy on Naaman and ran after him to get some of the gifts and riches for himself.  Gehazi caught up with Naaman and then made up a story of why his master, Elisha, had changed his mind and now wanted some silver and some of the beautiful clothing.  Gehazi returned to his home and hid the gifts and then went to stand before his master.  Meanwhile, God told Elisha through revelation what Gehazi had done.  Elisha confronted his servant who then lied and said he had not gone anywhere nor taken any gifts.  Elisha became angry and told Gehazi that “Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever.  Gehazi then went away from Elisha’s presence and he was leprous, as white as snow.”

This seems like pretty severe punishment, right?  However, God is a God of justice and clearly allowed Elisha to call down this curse on Gehazi and his descendants because of Gehazi’s great disobedience.  I have often wondered whenever I see someone with a large, disfiguring birthmark on their face or body if they are in fact descendants of Gehazi.

In 2 Samuel 3:29, we can again see a generational curse being spoken, this time over Joab and his descendants because of Joab’s disobedience and murder of Abner.  King David said, “May Joab’s house never be without someone who has a running sore or leprosy or who leans on a crutch or who falls by the sword or who lacks food (poverty).”  Wow, now that’s a curse!

Even as I look further into the history of the great King David and his sons and grandsons after him I find another example of “curses” or harmful generational patterns repeating in his family line.  We don’t know much about David’s father, Jesse, but much is written in the Bible about David and his sons and they clearly had a family “curse” of sexual sin, which started with David and Bathsheba in 2 Samuel Chapter 11.  This sexual sin continued with David’s son, Amnon, who raped his half sister, Tamar, in 2 Samuel Chapter 13.  Because of this Amnon was later murdered by Tamar’s brother, Absalom.  David and Bathsheba’s second son, Solomon, became a great and wise King who had God’s favor; however, even Solomon fell from God’s grace because of sexual sin.  He had 1000 wives and concubines, who eventually led him astray (see 1 Kings Chapter 11).

As you can see, generational sin and “curses” can happen in any family.  What patterns or “curses” do you see in your own family line?  And, does this mean we are doomed?  That we will never be able to overcome and rise above our family history?  NO!  God has a plan!

Watch for the third and final Blog on Legacy and find out how Christ can set you free from your past and set you and your descendants on a path of greatness!

“We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.  In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name.”  Psalm 33:20-21.



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