“For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the 3rd and 4th generations of those who hate Me...” People like Paula White and Benny Hinn and so many others on TBN make a whole lot of money by twisting this particular statement and showing you how to break “generational curses.” They teach that if your father was an alcoholic, then you'll be an alcoholic, and your kids will be alcoholics and their kids will be alcoholics, and so on and so forth—and there is nothing you can do about it, unless you learn the prayer that will “break that curse”--and send them a few dollars in the process. WRONG!! WRONG!! WRONG!! Just because our parents may have been notorious for some sin, that does not mean that God will say, “Well, that’s it! You were a thief and an idolater, so I will curse your entire bloodline for the next 4 generations!” What God is saying is that as long as the children are walking in their father’s footsteps, God will inflict punishment on those offspring—even if it is 3 or 4 generations. Now, will an alcoholic father probably wind up with children who will also be alcoholics? Probably. BUT, that is not a “curse from God.” That is simply children doing what they see their father doing. Deuteronomy 24:16—“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.” Now, it is quite common to see three or four generations of alcoholism or adultery or any other kind of sin—but that is not some "curse from God", that’s just sinful human beings doing what sinful human beings do. Dogs bark, ducks quack, sinners sin. And God will punish the children for their own sins—not for the sins of their father.
BUT—if those children walk according to the Law of God, He will be merciful to those offspring, even to the 1000th generation. As I said before, His anger is not like human anger. We get upset because somebody looks at us cross-eyed, and we can't control ourselves. But God’s anger is not like that. When someone stirs Him to wrath, He doesn’t usually just ZZAPP them. There are times in Scripture where He does that, but that is because those people were so severely disobedient and regarded God’s holiness and His commands so lightly. But, 14 times the Bible says that God is slow to anger, and ready to show mercy. Psalm 103:8—The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. Joel 2:13—“Return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness.”
Nahum 1:2-3—God is jealous, and the LORD avenges; the LORD avenges and is furious. The LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies; the LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked. He will not acquit the wicked, but He will give them a chance to repent from their sins. Those who do not repent, God will destroy. Those who do repent, and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ, He will spare, and reward them for the things they do in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Revelation 2:18-26—“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write…‘I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds…Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say…hold fast what you have till I come. And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations.” And that is exactly what we see here in Exodus. God “visits the iniquity of the fathers” to 3 or 4 generations. That is, God says that those who commit idolatry hate Him. And He will punish as many generations of those children that continue to hate Him—up to 3 or 4 generations. But He shows mercy to how many generations of those who do His commandments? A thousand! The contrast couldn’t be much more striking!
In fact, we see in Ezekiel 18 that God will not punish children for their fathers’ sins. Ezekiel 18:2-4—“What do you mean when you use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying: ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge’?” This was an old proverb, and it’s one that we hear even today in this country—“It’s my parents’ fault that I'm the way I am.” In other words, “Nothing is my fault.” It’s the same old story—we want to blame someone else for our trouble, when most of the time the blame lays at our own feet. “As I live,” says the Lord GOD, “you shall no longer use this proverb in Israel. Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; the soul who sins shall die.” That’s pretty self-explanatory. If a person sins, that person will die. If you run a red light, you get a ticket. KPD will not send you a ticket because your mother or father ran a red light. You ran the light—you get the ticket.
If a righteous man begets a wicked son, then the father’s righteousness will not shield that son. Ezekiel 18:10-13--"If he begets a son who is a robber or a shedder of blood, who does any of these things and does none of those duties, but has eaten on the mountains or defiled his neighbor’s wife; if he has oppressed the poor and needy, robbed by violence, not restored the pledge, lifted his eyes to the idols, or committed abomination; if he has exacted usury or taken increase—shall he then live? He shall not live! If he has done any of these abominations, he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him." If a wicked father begets a righteous son, then the wickedness of the father will not be counted against that son. Ezekiel 18:14-18--"If, however, he begets a son who sees all the sins which his father has done, and considers but does not do likewise; who has not eaten on the mountains, nor lifted his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, nor defiled his neighbor’s wife; has not oppressed anyone, nor withheld a pledge, nor robbed by violence, but has given his bread to the hungry and covered the naked with clothing; who has withdrawn his hand from the poor and not received usury or increase, but has executed My judgments and walked in My statutes—he shall not die for the iniquity of his father; he shall surely live! As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, robbed his brother by violence, and did what is not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his iniquity."
Now, God has set up these contrasts, and we see the conclusions we are to draw from these statements when we get to Ezekiel 18:19-23—“Yet you say, ‘Why should the son not bear the guilt of the father?’ Because the son has done what is lawful and right, and has kept all My statutes and observed them, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live. Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord GOD, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live?” A person is not punished for their parents’ sins—they are punished if they continue to walk in the ways of their sinful parents. Likewise, a wicked child is not protected by their parents’ righteousness—if they turn away from that righteousness and live in sin, they are punished for their sins.
In fact, we see this again in Jeremiah 31:29-30—“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.” So, this whole nonsense about “generational curses” is a bunch of hogwash, and is simply a way that TBN—The Blasphemy Network—fools a whole lot of people into sending them their money…for nothing.
Jesus Christ is Lord.