“Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”
These are words God told Abraham way back in Genesis 15. When one looks backwards at prophecy fulfilled there's not a lot of awe. Our natural reaction is somewhere along the lines of, "duh. I saw the Ten Commandments and/or Prince of Egypt. Who doesn't know that?" What we forget is that, Abraham hadn't seen those movies. He was a little behind with Netflix. He was talking to God and God was telling him what was going to happen in the next four hundred years. Wow. That had to be mind blowing. Too bad God doesn't tell us what's going to happen now, huh? Right?
Only he does. God's always telling us what's going to happen. It's one of the ways He proves He is God, in control and immutable. God never saw something happen and said, "Oh myself! I totally didn't see that coming!" Quite the opposite. He warns us all the time what's coming so that we can be faithful and confident in Him and His power. Setting aside even the prophecies that have yet to be fulfilled, we'll deal with them later, let's go back and look at His words to Abe.
"Why?" you may ask. "This prophecy was fulfilled. There's nothing here for us apart from a bit of history and an object lesson. What can five thousand year old words tell us today?"
- First, they tell us that it's pretty freakin' amazing that we have a recorded conversation that occurred five thousand years ago! That's not really my point, it just now hit me how wild that is. Sorry.
- This conversation is between God and man. God took some time out of His day to talk to his created child. Don't lose the awe of that! That right there should tell you something vital about His nature. He wants us to know some things. He doesn't want us kept in ignorance. He wants us to know Him and so He talks with us. And what does He say?
- "Know for certain..." See, don't wonder, KNOW. I'm gonna tell you.
- "...for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there." He knows our plight. Not only that, but He's allowing it...for a while. For you see...
- "But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves," He's keeping records and nobody's getting away with anything. You are His and while it may not feel like He's protecting you, He doesn't take lightly anything done to you. Our best guess as to when the Exodus happened was right after Pepi II's reign. A guy named Merenre II, believed to be his son took power for only one year. Archeologists have no idea what happened to him (cause they're not looking on the bottom of the Red Sea) but they know that his reign began something called the First Intermediate Period. A one hundred and fifty year Dark Ages for Egypt that kicked off with famine, plague, looting, chaos, an end of international trade, art and building and civil war. Just the kind of thing you may think would happen after: the Nile turns to blood; having enough of blood, the frogs abandon the Nile for the people's homes; dust becomes gnats all over everyone's faces; God ups the ante and adds flies to the gnats (i'm picturing those freakin greenhead ones that bite you in the center of your back and even draw blood); a disease strikes the Egyptian livestock; boils cover the Egyptians; a hailstorm kills everyone outside; locusts finish off the Egyptian crops; God sends darkness upon the Egyptians, darkness that can be felt (i have no idea what that is but it sounds creepy); all the firstborn who are not protected by the blood of an unspotted, innocent lamb die in one night (remember what i was saying about God telling the same story over and over again?)
- "...afterward they will come out with great possessions." God compensates his. That generation, who had known nothing but slavery, oppression and poverty, in one day was free and rich beyond they're dreams.
- "You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age." A lot of times, when God really digs you, He spares you from coming tragedy altogether. (Enosh, Noah, Abe, Lot, Elijah, Daniel, the Rapture)
- "In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure." God's got a plan and a limit. He's merciful. He tolerated the Amorites nonsense for four hundred years until their sin just got so putrid He'd had enough and He wasn't going to let them pollute the rest of the world with it any longer. Many like to paint this as a portrait of God's genocidal nature. Few see it as mercy and justice. What was the final straw for God. How do you know when you've finally pushed Him too far? Seems like a good thing to know right? What is the last recorded act of Pepi II in the Bible? The slaughtering of the Israelite children. What religious rites were the Canaanite's known for? Temple harlotry and child sacrifice. "But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel; indeed he made his son pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out from before the children of Israel." (2 Kings 16) "Moreover you took your sons and your daughters, whom you bore to Me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. Were your acts of harlotry a small matter, that you have slain My children and offered them up to them by causing them to pass through the fire?" (Ezek 16) Is it really psychopathic genocide to wipe out a people who kill their own kids? Would you want to live next door to them? Go to school with them? Have them serve on your town council?
Next post: What is God still telling us? or How the answer to the last post is probably, "Not Much."