Sometimes in the news you hear of public apologies for sins and offences perpetrated by past generations. For instance, I remember a public apology to Japanese Americans for rounding them up during World War II and illegally placing them in internment camps.
Isn’t it enough to confess your own sins and repent for them? Why would you take on anyone else’s? Daniel in the Old Testament does not ask such questions. He identifies with the sins of his fathers even though he bore no personal responsibility for committing them.
In fact, Daniel was in captivity in Babylon due to the rebellion of the generation of Israelites before him. If anything, he might have held that against them instead of begging for forgiveness. Yet repent is what he does.
Daniel recounts a story of an angelic visitation and tells us how it came about. “Now while I was speaking and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God in behalf of the holy mountain of my God” (Daniel 9:20)
Have you ever thought of following this godly prophet and confessing the sins of your family, including past generations? We know that iniquity revisits families for three and four generations. (See Exodus 20:5) When someone says, ‘It runs in my family’ we nod our head in understanding.
It’s not so out of line to repent on behalf of others. By doing so you may break an ungodly generational cycle of sin. Why hand down to your children what you are sorry was handed down to you?