Pastor Roger Skepple
Pastor. Bible Teacher. Author.

By: Roger Skepple | January 27, 2018

In short, no. In Exodus 20:4-6 the subject is idolatry. Regarding those who commit idolatry, we learn that God would visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Him. Notice, the text says “generations of those who hate Me.” Therefore, we see that God would punish those who imitate their fathers’ idolatrous actions. In other words, there are sinful patterns that children see in their parents that they often times replicate in their own lives. It is not that God has placed a curse on the people. It is not as if the children are obedient to God but God still punishes them because of their parents’ disobedience. The point is that they are idol worshipers just like their parents were. In fact, verse 6 shows that God shows mercy to those who love Him, irregardless of their parents’ disposition towards God. The contrast that we have in verses 4 and 5 is between those who hate God and those who love Him. The reason for it affecting the third and fourth generations is that the effects of idol worship is that it leads to children becoming accustomed to it, and they often times replicate it in their own lives.

Does the Bible teach generational curses?
Does the Bible teach generational curses?

Other passages to consider are listed below:

  • Deuteronomy 24:16: Moses states that fathers would not be put to death for their children’s sins and children would not be put to death for the fathers’ sins. Notice that he says, “A person shall be put to death for his own sin.”
  • Ezekiel 18: This passage in fact the entire chapter – shows that God never agreed with the false saying of the people: “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” In other words, rather than taking responsibility for their own actions, they attributed their sinful ways to their parents. However, notice that God said that they were to no longer use that proverb in Israel. He went on to say that the soul who sins shall die and that the one who is lawful and right shall live (Ezekiel 18:4-9).
  • Jeremiah 31:27-30: We see the same thing here. Every one dies for his own iniquity. If one “eats the sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.”

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Comments:

Roger

Posted on : January 31, 2018

Hey Jen,

Thanks for stopping by my blog and I do appreciate your comments. This wrong understanding of God’s Word has often been used to improperly bind God’s people to their past. There can be little doubt that it’s an important message for today, just as it was in Ezekiel’s day.

Oh, and by the way, you are probably right on “irregardless,” because although Merriam-Webster does list it as a word, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/irregardless, it lists at as a nonstandard expression. I do probably need to stop using it, regardless of what Merriam says.


Jen

Posted on : January 30, 2018

I appreciate this post a lot! It made me dwell on how God doesn't punish one person for the sin of another, except when Jesus stepped forward to take the sin of the world upon Himself. What a mercy that He would take what we deserve!

Small, insignificant point: "irregardless" isn't a word. I think you mean "regardless" (or perhaps "irrespective"?)


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