BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“So each generation can set its hope anew on God, remembering his glorious miracles and obeying his commands. Then they will not be like their ancestors — stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God” (Psalm 78:7-8 NLT).
So much has been said about generational curse, generational blessing, generational shift/change, and the likes. These are important. But I believe we should also consider generational obedience because obedience is very important to God.
God chose Israel above all the nations of the earth and told her people to keep all His commandments without adding to or taking from them (Deuteronomy 7:6-8; 14:2; 26:17-19; 4:2; 12:32; Joshua 22:4-6). But beyond giving the Israelites commandments to obey, God commanded them to teach their children His commandments so that they would also obey and could pass from one generation to the other the culture of obedience to Him. God is always concerned about the next generation. This explains why the covenant He made with Abraham was not with him alone but also with his descendants (Genesis 17:7-9).
David said in 1 Chronicles 16:15-18, “Remember his covenant forever – the commitment he made to a thousand generations. This is the covenant he made with Abraham and the oath he swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, and to the people of Israel as a never-ending covenant: ‘I will give you the land of Canaan as your special possession’” (NLT). The covenant wasn’t with only one generation.
By generational obedience, I mean the obedience of generations to God – the discipline of obedience transmitted by one generation to the next generation. To ensure generational obedience, God told the children of Israel to use different methods to teach their children His commandments. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9 NKJV). Earlier in Deuteronomy 4:9-10, Moses had commanded the Israelites to teach their children and grandchildren what their eyes had seen the LORD do for them so that they would also teach their children.
God wants every generation to obey Him and to pass this discipline to the next generation. Thus, obedience to God will not end with one generation. God wants continuity of obedience. He wants the virtue of obedience to Him to be transferred to the next generation just as people talk about generational wealth – wealth passed from one generation to the other.
But this was not the case in Judges 2:10 concerning the children of Israel after Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, had died at 100 years. The Bible says, “After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10 NLT). This was not God’s will. But something went wrong.
Each generation must obey God’s commands
Psalm 78:5-6 says that God appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded their fathers to make known to their children that the generation to come might know them and the children who would be born might arise and declare them to their children “So each generation can set its hope anew on God, remembering his glorious miracles and obeying his commands. Then they will not be like their ancestors — stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God” (verses 7-8 NLT). This is what I call generational obedience.
Obedience to God was not supposed to be for the older generation alone but to be passed to the younger generation. When this is done, no generation would need to bother itself about struggling for God’s blessings. It would come automatically. “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 28:1-2 NKJV).
Immediately after this scripture, we have a list of the blessings of obedience. And from verses 15-69, the chapter lists out the curses of disobedience. Prayer would be meaningless to prevent these curses except it was the prayer of repentance. The way to escape the curses was obedience from generation to generation. “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken” (Isaiah 1:19-20 NKJV). Nobody can get through prayer what he lost through disobedience. To obey is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22). “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but the prayer of the upright is His delight” (Proverbs 15:8 NKJV).
God is concerned about generational obedience today. He is concerned about generations coming after you – your children, your grandchildren, etc. If the faith we have received will endure, we must teach our children. Christianity must not end with you in your family. You may be the first, second, fourth, fifth, or whatever generation of Christian in your family, ensure you teach your children the truths of the Word of God so that they can obey Him and live for Him. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 NKJV).
The key to generational blessing
The key to generational blessing is generational obedience. Every generation has to obey God. If God blessed the fathers in their generation because they obeyed Him, the children must continue to obey Him for the blessings passed to them to endure. “But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them” (Psalm 103:17-18 NKJV).
Psalm 119:90 says God’s faithfulness endures to all generations. However, God will relate with every generation based on their obedience to Him. David was a man after God’s heart and enjoyed God’s mercy and favour. But His son, Solomon, did not walk with God as his father did. “So the LORD became angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned from the LORD God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not keep what the LORD had commanded. Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, ‘Because you have done this, and have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant. Nevertheless I will not do it in your days, for the sake of your father David; I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However I will not tear away the whole kingdom; I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of My servant David, and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen” (1 Kings 11:9-13 NKJV).
Solomon laid the foundation for the division of the kingdom that he inherited from his father. It was eventually divided during the reign of his successor, Rehoboam. We can compare this to a generational blessing that was terminated because of the absence of generational obedience. The LORD eventually sent the two kingdoms, Israel and Judah, into the captivity of the Assyrians and the Babylonians respectively because of their disobedience to Him. As rightly said by Mary, the earthly mother of Jesus, God’s mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation (Luke 1:50).
How to ensure generational obedience
1. Accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. This means you must be born again (John 3:3). This is the beginning of a life of obedience to God. Acts 4:12 says there is salvation in no one else and there is no other name in all of heaven for people to call on to save them. Only the name of Jesus. Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13). Surrender your life to Jesus today. Invite Him into your heart.
2. Be an example of obedience to God to your family. Let your family, especially your children (and your grandchildren as the case may be), see you as a good example of obedience to God. Don’t be a hypocrite. To demand from others what you don’t do is hypocrisy. Let them learn obedience from your life, not from your words only.
Obey God. Avoid living a sinful life. Exodus 34:7 says that God keeps mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin; He, by no means, clears the guilty but visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generations. Numbers 14:18 says a similar thing. This latter portion is often considered unfair by many. Why should God visit or punish children up to the four generations for the sins of a father?
One way to look at this is that forgiveness does not always free one from the consequences of one’s sins. In addition, this scripture shows the contagious effect of sin. Its consequences have the capacity of affecting children up to the fourth generation. In reality, it is not about God punishing the children up to the fourth generation; it is about the law of cause and effects being activated. This should make parents sober and obey God and not cause problems that would affect their children.
Similarly, in Exodus 20:5-6, the Bible says that God is a jealous God and visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Him, but shows mercy to thousands, to those who love Him and keep His commandments. Deuteronomy 5:9-10 says a similar thing. These scriptures give us additional information that God would only visit the sin of the father on the children up to the fourth generation when the children follow the footsteps of their father – if they hate God.
Talking about the Israelites who survived the enemy’s attack, Leviticus 26:39 says, “Those still left alive will rot away in enemy lands because of their sins and the sins of their ancestors” (NLT). Children who obey God will not suffer for the sins of their fathers. “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” (Deuteronomy 24:16 NKJV).
That’s why God corrected the Israelites in Jeremiah 31:29-30 and Ezekiel 18:1-4 for their wrong proverb that the fathers had eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth were set on edge. God said that proverb would no longer be used. He said the souls of the father and the son were His and the soul who sinned shall die. Exemplify obedience to your children.
3. Seek the salvation of your children. Lead them to Christ early in life. Don’t say they are too young or someone else will lead them to Christ later. They are your children. Lead them to commit their hearts to Jesus. Jesus told the disciples to allow the little children to come to Him and not forbid them, for of such is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:14; Mark 10:14; Luke 18:16).
4. Teach your children obedience to God and constituted authorities. Hebrews 5:8 says though Jesus was a Son, yet He learnt obedience by the things which He suffered. You must teach your children obedience. Teach them the Word of God about obedience. Show them examples of obedience and disobedience in the Bible and around them.
Correct them when necessary and punish their disobedience when it’s proper. The goal is to ensure that they do not rebel against God and authorities now and in the future. They will also be able to pass obedience to God to their children.
5. Pray for your children. Ephesians 2:2b talks about the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience. Pray for the spirit of obedience to possess and work in your children; pray against the spirit of disobedience. Samuel said to the Israelites, “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way” (1 Samuel 12:23 NKJV).
Conclusion: God wants to bless your family from generation to generation. He wants to bless every generation on earth. But obedience from one generation to the other is key. Make disciples of your children and their children for Jesus. Teach them to obey God and constituted authorities. Generational obedience will guarantee generational blessing. Obey God personally in your generation.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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