After the Babylonian captivity, the Jews returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple, but they soon were caught up in the same sins that caused the judgment of God on the nation in the first place. In Nehemiah chapter 1, we meet Nehemiah, who was left behind in Shushan the palace as King Artaxerxes’ cupbearer. He learned in verse 2 and 3 that the remnant of Jews that remained in Jerusalem were in great affliction and reproach, and that the wall was broken down and burned with fire.
It was a great burden to him – knowing the condition of Jerusalem, and knowing their Spiritual condition.
The first thing that he did was he went to God with his burden: "And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven," (Nehemiah 1:4)
The first place that we should go with our problems is to the Lord. The way to get perspective on the past is to talk to God about it. Nehemiah didn’t go to a friend. He didn’t go to a counsellor. Instead, he poured out his heart and soul to God.
Secondly, he took personal responsibility. He prayed in verse six, "Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father's house have sinned." (Nehemiah 1:6)
Personal responsibility is key to overcoming the past. Personal responsibility is key to overcoming generational sin. The Bible is clear that you aren’t responsible for anyone’s sin but your own (ie. "Ezekiel 18:20, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.")
However, one would be wise to recognize the sins and habits of his parents and grandparents that came before him, and say as Joshua did, "as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15) This stops now!
Whether you are involved in things that you know are wrong, or you are suffering the consequences of previous generations’ bad choices, the solution is the same – take it to God and take personal responsibility for the future. Don’t continue in sin, and don’t allow bitterness to keep you from the blessings that God has for you in your future.
Finally, Nehemiah Kept Going. He didn’t allow his burden to overcome him to where he quit. The last verse tells us that he continued as the King’s cupbearer – right where God had put him in life. He continued in praying for God’s faithful servants. He didn’t give up; he didn’t start a new movement. He didn’t use the situation as an excuse to leave the old, Biblical paths.
Don’t give up. To move beyond the past, you must keep going. Keep doing what God has shown you so far. Stay where God has put you. Don’t let the situation overcome you.
Let’s be like Nehemiah, and keep taking our burdens to God. Let’s be determined to give the past to Him, and to turn our back wherever sin shows its ugly head, no matter the cost. And let’s keep moving forward in the tried and true, God-ordained paths of old.