The Generational Blessing

this article is dedicated to my uncle Dick and to his children and grandchildren

My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. (Proverbs 3: 1-2)

A father’s heart is for his children’s well being. From what he himself has learnt, he instructs his children for success and prosperity. To this end, all the father’s wealth and resources are at his child’s disposal.

An obedient son learns from and emulates his father. He brings glory and honour to his father, by succeeding according to his father’s instruction. He acts prudently with his inheritance and produces an increase for the next generation. The son will later become a father. He in turn will instruct his children with the wisdom and knowledge that he has received and so the blessing is sustained through the generations.

The transmission of the blessing is interrupted when a father fails to instruct, or by a son’s rebellion and disobedience and failure to learn. It is according to the principle of transmission that God’s covenant benefits would endure to a thousand generations.

Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations (Deuteronomy 7:9).

Fathers would instruct their children in the ways of God and so it would be that subsequent generations would continue to enjoy the Lord’s favour.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).

As Solomon had written the book of Proverbs as a legacy to his sons – for their life and prosperity – so God’s Word was given to Adam for the same purpose.

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest of it thou shalt surely die (Genesis 2:17).

By the rejection of this Word, the sons of God were alienated from the glorious life that might have been theirs within the perfect will of their heavenly Father. Adam interrupted the transmission of the divine blessing at the moment of the first rebellion so that every subsequent generation comes into this world as sons of Adam – born without the knowledge of God and soon to die. All our worldly pursuits are vanity and will follow us to the grave. In the words of Jesus, we find ourselves “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (Revelation 3:17).

God chose Abraham as the starting point of His plan for the restoration of sonship. In Abraham, God initiates the process of redemption whereby a remnant of Adam’s posterity would be reconciled to its Creator Father and into the divine inheritance, which is the eternal blessing reserved for the children of God.

And the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they will keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him” (Genesis 18:17-19).

The criterion by which Abraham was chosen was, “that he would command his children and his household after him, and they will keep the way of the LORD …” The promise had to be sustained through the generations until the time of its ultimate fulfilment.

Initially the Patriarchs assumed that the blessing would transfer naturally to the firstborn son, but the lesson of Ishmael and Isaac was that it would transfer by God’s election to the son of promise. In the next generation, Esau despised his birthright so the blessing passed to Jacob. Of Jacob’s twelve sons, the eldest defiled his father’s bed and others were prone to violence. Joseph became Jacob’s true son and heir through obedience.

Jacob’s descendants later became slaves to the Pharaohs, but God remembered His covenant and delivered them out of Egypt (Exodus 6: 3-7). At Mount Sinai, Moses and the Israelites received God’s instruction (Torah) with the promise: “keep my statutes and my judgments: which if a man does, he shall live in them” (Leviticus 18:5).

These instructions formed the basis of a covenant between Israel and God in terms of which manifold blessings and a rich inheritance could be earned through obedience.

Subsequent generations were to partake in the blessing by the transmission of these statutes through careful instruction:

And these words which I command you this day, shall be in your heart: And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).

For this purpose the fifth commandment expressly required, “Honour your father and your mother; that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you (Exodus 20:12).

Failure to teach and abide by the terms of the covenant would in turn bring about certain misfortune. This would again be transmitted through the generations, for as the Lord declared,

I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of them that hate me. (Deuteronomy 5:9).

This is the converse of the generational blessing and might be termed the generational curse. Israel failed to sustain the blessing. Transmission of the word was once again interrupted and future generations fell into idolatry and every kind of unfaithfulness. By the word of Daniel the prophet,

All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you. Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you (Daniel 9:11).

After all was said and done the last of the Old Testament prophets concluded God’s dealings with Israel with these words:

See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse (Malachi 4:5-6).

The seed of Abraham, through whom the blessing would come to all nations, was Jesus the Messiah.

Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He said not, “And to seeds,” as of many; but as of one, “And to your seed,” which is Messiah. (Galatians 3:16)

Jesus is the second Adam who became, for all his progeny, the means of being restored into sonship. The importance of the virgin birth was to show that Jesus was not an heir to Adam’s fallen state, but was born with an unsevered consciousness of God, to enjoy the intimacy of communication which originally existed between God and man at the time of creation. As it is written,

From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God (Psalm 22:10).

When Jesus was separated from Mary and Joseph in Jerusalem, they searched for him and three days later found him teaching the scribes in the Temple. When they rebuked him, he asked, “Why were you searching for me … Did you not know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them (Luke 2: 49-50).

The virgin birth eliminates the generational curse since Jesus was not by heredity the third or fourth generation of sinful man. Likewise for anyone who is “born of God” (1 John 5:1), our nature and identity are no longer to be found in the heredity of Adam, but through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, in the nature of God. We escape “the corruption that is in the world by lust” and become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).

For this reason also all natural ties and affinities must be subverted, so that Jesus teaches that flesh gives birth to flesh and counts for nothing (John 3:6; 6:63). On one occasion Jesus was told,

Behold, your mother and brothers are outside, wishing to speak to you. But he answered and said … “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And he stretched forth his hand towards his disciples, and said, “Behold my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Matthew 12:47-50).

Again, when told, “blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that fed you,” he replied, “blessed rather are they that hear the word of God and keep it” (Luke 11:27).

In the same way Jesus taught,

Do not think that that I have come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man’s enemies will be those of his own household. He that loves father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me: and he that loves son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me. And he that takes not his cross, and follows me, is not worthy of me. He that finds his life shall lose it: and he that loses his life for my sake, shall find it. (Matthew 10:34-39)

If any man is called of God, the spiritual sonship we enter into through the redemption must take precedence over any conflicting loyalty. Our flesh and blood relationships can only survive to the extent that our natural relatives have also been born from above, and are in submission to the same Father.

As it is a father’s role to instruct his children for life and prosperity Jesus said,

I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life … these words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me (John 5: 24; 14:24).

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly (John 10:10).

To receive the Father’s instruction, is to live fully within His will, just as Jesus did nothing out of his own desire, but acted in perfect obedience to his Father’s command.

For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:38-40).

For this purpose, everything that belonged to the Father was at his son’s disposal:

All that belongs to the Father is mine (John 16:15).

Jesus was the perfect model of sonship, emulating his Father in all things and working for His glory:

Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does” (John 5: 19-20).

I have brought you glory on earth, by completing the work you gave me to do (John 17: 4).

In so doing, Jesus had the full assurance of his Father’s love and prospered above all men, achieving the greatest of all works – that of redeeming the generations of Adam into sonship and reconciling all things to God “whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood …” (Col. 1:19-20). As promised in Psalm 2;

I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.
I will proclaim the decree of the LORD:
He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.”

The same spirit that reigned in Jesus has been promised to all who believe, and by that spirit we receive the adoption into sonship and become heirs to the eternal blessings of God.

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory (Romans 8:13-17).

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of a human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God (John 1:10-13).

The generational curse is broken as we become direct descendants of the living God, by virtue of a personal knowledge and relationship with Him through the spirit of Christ – by which spirit also we receive His Word to live no longer for ourselves, but as an extension of His perfect will. The generational blessing is the life which comes directly from Him to bring us into the eternal inheritance of the children of God.