October 4th, 2021 – Monday Late Evening
“‘Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.'” ~Genesis 15:16
What this verse implies is more important than what it says; what it communicates is far more necessary than what the words mean. Confused? Let me explain it from the perspective I am thinking of…
The first thing that should clue us in to the importance of the implications of this verse is found in who it is that is speaking. To find this out, look at the context: The LORD is on the verge of making a covenant with Abram – a very serious and significant moment in Abram’s life and in Scripture – and is prophesying to him how His promise (in verse 7) will come to pass and how Abram can trust that it will happen. The LORD has just told Abram that his descendants would suffer affliction and slavery, then great abundance, but Abram would die in peace before any of it happened. Now, in this passage, the LORD is telling Abram that those same descendants would return to where Abram was located [in order to inherit the land]. The LORD is the Communicator in this passage, and that gives this verse great weight!
Secondly, notice that there is a reason attached to why such a great delay is a part of God’s promise to Abram. Because the sin “limit” hasn’t been reached in the land, He will patiently endure the continuance (for the time being) of those who currently inhabit Abram’s promised land. This is a reminder that God does everything with purpose; even if He doesn’t reveal His plans and purposes to mankind (which He certainly does not have to!), He is still working at all times and in all situations. Sometimes, as here, He allows trouble and suffering to abound because it is working out a greater plan than what those within it can see; remember, sin naturally brings about trouble and suffering – He was not punishing Israel [by causing the trouble and suffering] in this instance. Sometimes, He does bring about trouble and suffering, but it is always as a means of punishment, awakening, or to display His love, mercy, grace, and glory.
Putting these two things together (there may be more), we see that the implication of this passage is that the LORD is in control, that He will orchestrate the events that Abram’s descendants will go through, that He is the Righteous Judge, and that He will never leave or forsake His people. This means that even if great suffering lies in our path, even if our trials wax long and longer, even if there is no light at the end of the tunnel, we who belong to Christ and God can rest in our Father’s love, grace, and steadfast presence. He will accomplish what is best for us, what is most pleasing to Him, what accords with His nature and purpose, and…we will not be forgotten or forlorn in the process.
Do you see now why His plans and His ways are higher than ours? He is God and we are not; He is perfect in every way, including in knowledge, and we are not. Let us humble ourselves and accept His grace and guidance as we live lives that reflect Him. Let us rest in His care, mercy, and power, and not become weary in the trials and troubles that we are enduring. Finally, let us praise Him and find our joy full in the moment-by-moment as we fix our eyes on Jesus and remember His Lordship over all.