13 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. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 As for yourself, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. 16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
While reading Genesis 15, the passage where God first makes his covenant with Abraham that is so important to our understanding of the scripture, I was reminded of aspects of God’s character and sovereignty. Right in the middle of promising that he will grant to Abraham’s descendants a particular land and a particular standing with him, God also promises two very strange things: the exile in Egypt and judgment on both Egypt and the Amorites.
God first tells Abram (later Abraham) that his descendants will spend 400 years in a foreign land. Not only will they be separated from the land, they will suffer. There is no hint here of God preventing difficult times or preventing his people from suffering greatly. However, there is comfort that God gives in that, when the time is up, his people will be brought out of that land by God’s mighty hand.
Second, God promises, well in advance of it happening, that he will bring judgment on the land and the captors of the Hebrews. God knows that Pharaoh and the Egyptians are going to do to the Hebrews, and God is planning to let his judgment fall upon them for that future action.
Third, and most interesting to me this morning, is that God says that this all will happen because the iniquity of the Amorites has not yet reached its full. So god is telling Abram and his posterity that one of the reasons that all of this will happen as planned is in order to allow the Amorites time to so totally rebel against what is good and right that God’s justice will be demonstrated when he commands Israel to destroy them upon their return to and settling of the land.
Now, there is much to think about here, and I do not intend to work through all the implications of this passage. But let me point out two simple points that we must see. First, God’s foreknowledge is perfect. He knows the future from A to Z. There is no chance, no possibility that God will miss what will happen. He knows it all. Though it is becoming fashionable to attempt to limit God’s foreknowledge in order to defend man’s freedom, the Bible knows nothing of such a view. God knows the future, and it shows from right here in Genesis.
Second, God’s sovereignty and justice are on display. God knows whom he will judge. He planned to display his glory by judging Pharaoh and by judging the Amorites. God sovereignly moved his people where he wanted them, and, as he did so, he accomplished his plan both to rescue his children and to judge those who oppressed them. He proved that his justice would be done.
Genesis 15 reminds us that we do not serve a wimpy little deity who is wringing his hands, shielding his eyes, and hoping that things will work out. God will work out all of human history for his glory. He knows the end from the beginning, and he has the power to make happen what he desires. This is our Lord, and we should praise his name.