In Genesis 14, Abram rescues his kinsman Lot who has been captured by Chedorlaomer, king of Elam. Afterwards, Abram is blessed by Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of God most high. Then in Genesis 15, God makes his covenant with Abram. He promises him a son and an abundance of offspring. But in the midst of it all, God says something very different.
“Then the Lord said to Abram, ‘Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions,’” (Gen 15:13-14 ESV).
I grew up assuming bad things happen because I got out of God’s will. But here, the slavery of Egypt is mentioned in the original promise to Abram. This was part of His plan and for some reason, He wanted Abram to know about it from the beginning. God’s path was perfect but not easy. Israel spent multiple generations in Egypt, and yet here it is foretold as part of a plan. God doesn’t promise that our path will be easy, but it will be best. Our path is a small chapter in the grand story of His glory.
2 thoughts on “Promises Pt. 6”
Sometimes we become so focused on our own small path and the happenings in our own kingdom that we forget we are a story within a bigger story in the matrix of a greater kingdom. Not only are we intertwined into God’s story, but there are many others around us whose story weaves into our own. We are not alone on this journey. Here’s one thing we should never forget, especially when we face difficulty: In verse 1 of Genesis 15, God says “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield . . .”
It is easy to think that difficult things happen because we have done something bad, but, as you pointed out, the Bible doesn’t teach us that. Look at Job. He had tons of bad things happen to him, but it wasn’t because he was being punished. I’m not even sure the purpose was to teach him, either, although from what I read, I am sure he learned to be steadfast! He was rewarded for standing on what he knew to be true in the end! Job was actually blessed with physical things on earth. And there is Jeremiah. What a life God planned for him to live! This morning in church my pastor pointed out how God didn’t tell him, “You can be anything you set your mind to be!” No, Jeremiah was chosen and wired in his mother’s womb to be a prophet who was a misfit in society. Then look at John the Baptist. He lived a life of sacrifice and humble living brought him to have his head chopped off. Ish. Poor John. Yet, his reward was found in a different world! And then there are many more modern Christians who have gone through great difficulty, and as they have continued to live speaking of their belief and trust in Christ, many have come to trust in Christ by witnessing their perseverance!
Of course, Corrie Ten Boom is also an example of this. She didn’t let being put in a concentration camp discourage her from trusting that God was pleased with her and with her. She could have become weary and thought “I thought I was doing the right thing by hiding Jews, but I must have been wrong because God is punishing me by sending me with the Jews to this concentration camp, and punishing my whole family along with me!” No, instead she and her sister Betsy lead Bible studies. They didn’t even let fleas bring discouragement, but even thanked God for the fleas, because they kept the guards away so they could have their Bible studies! And then when Corrie was let out of the concentration camp, she was still not discouraged by her circumstances, even though her sister, who was her best friend, had died in the concentration camp, and circumstances were far from desirable. Instead, she listened to God and obeyed Him as He told her to go proclaim His faithfulness to the world! I want to have that kind of steadfastness, and probably the only way to truly learn it is to go through circumstances that are less than pleasurable.
I hope that I never have to go through what Corrie Ten Boom did, but if that is the only way to learn, then I pray that God will help me be steadfast and true to Him! I am learning in the situations I DO go through to try to praise Him for them and to trust that He is using the situations to help me choose to think and act in ways that do not give into my fleshly nature that wants to numb pain, but instead to cry out to and call upon Him to help me trust Him and even thank Him through the tough, painful times! So, really, bad situations can be used to train me to trust God and be more like Him, and also so that I can relate more with the pain others go through.
Look at Jesus, it is good He didn’t think the trials He was going through were to punish Him from the wrong He had done. He knew that what He went through He really didn’t deserve, but they should have been what WE should have had to go through! We have already had our punishment taken care of. No longer will God need to punish us for our sins, because Jesus took ALL of the punishment on His shoulders! Jesus can relate to the deepest, most hurtful pain that ANYONE can go through! It is a wonder that God gave us such an incredible Savior! And such a sure, powerful gift of forgiveness!