“Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them, for I Jehovah thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, upon the third and upon the fourth generation of them that hate me, and showing lovingkindness unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.” (Exodus 20:5-6)
“The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.” (Deuteronomy 24:16)
In at least three passages in the Old Testament, including Deuteronomy 24:16, 2 Kings 14:6, and 2 Chronicles 25:4, we read the following statement: “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.” I would like to contrast this with Exodus 20:5-6, which states (regarding idol worship), “Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them, for I Jehovah thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, upon the third and upon the fourth generation of them that hate me, and showing lovingkindness unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.”
Then what does this mean? It has to do with the fact that God is holy, and takes sin very seriously. While it is “not the fault” of the child that his father or mother sinned, Exodus 20:5-6 is nevertheless teaching that the child may be afflicted (for example) with a disease on account of the father’s sin. Let’s look at this a little further. I think it is true to say that in any family, “behavior traits” get passed down from “one generation to the next.” In particular, I am referring to sinful behavior traits (a desire for revenge, etc. … we see this in Northern Ireland, for example). This, then, being the case, it is no wonder that a person may be afflicted with the “same disease” as his father or mother.
I do not accept the notion, or the teaching, that disease is purely physical and “in the genes.” Rather, I am sure (and this can be easily substantiated from Scripture) that most or even all diseases are directly linked with sinful behavior patterns (I am not trying to condemn here, but simply state what I believe Scripture teaches). Furthermore, I am not referring to birth defects here, such as that found in the case of the man born blind (see John 9:1-3), but rather, in particular, “wasting diseases,” as mentioned in Psalm 106:15, and many other passages, which in all of my research, I have found that the Bible states comes as a result of sinful behavior patterns.
Referring then to 2 Kings 5:5-27 (see parts III, IV, and V of Understanding Curses, posted from our website), Gehazi, then, was cursed on account of his sinful behavior response. His descendants would be cursed on account of the same — not just because Gehazi was cursed, but because they would choose to follow in the footsteps of Gehazi himself — their own choice. They could escape the curse if they decided not to follow in Gehazi’s footsteps — and, believe it or not, it usually takes about 3 or 4 generations before many people in this type of situation are willing to repent! Repentance from sinful behavior patterns then was the choice of each and every one of Gehazi’s descendants. They were by no means “locked in” to this curse (it was a conditional curse — conditional upon their keeping a stubborn heart). Also, I have to say, the church has a large role to play here. Many people today are suffering from terrible disease because the church has been so negligent and ignorant in this incredibly important area. Some churches, in fact, even preach against healing, which is an incredible shame.