A Depressing Promise

Genesis 15
God comes to Abram in a vision, promising great reward. I think this is the reward for rescuing Lot and the others from Sodom from the armies he defeated, but the text is not specific. God promises Abram that he will give him as many descendants as there are stars in the sky. God then promises to give Abram the land that he brought Abram to. However, there is a caveat.

Then The Lord said to Abram: Know for certain that your descendants will reside as aliens in a land not their own, where they shall be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years. (Genesis 15:13)

It was going to all be ok though, because God will bring judgement on the people who enslave Abram’s descendants. God says that it will take this long for Abram’s people to inherit the land, because the people who live there currently are not wicked enough for God to kick them out.

Well this is just kind of a crappy promise all around. God promised Abram a great nation, and now he tells him that it is going to come at the cost of 400 years of slavery in a foreign land. Abram isn’t even going to get to see his great nation come to fruition, as God says that he will die peacefully, not a slave. This all just seems like a really roundabout way for things to happen. God seems to know all of these things are going to happen, why must he let there be so much suffering for them to happen. He says they will happen with such certainty, as though there is no other way for things to happen. That means that many of the other people in this are destined to be punished for acts they had no real choice in. The enslavers will be punished, by God, because he deemed it necessary for his special people to endure slavery. Can this punishment really be just if those enslaving had no real choice in their action? Then we have the Amorites, who will eventually be wicked enough that God can kick them off the plot of land he has chosen for Abram’s descendants. Why not, instead, skip the whole slavery thing and convert the Amorites, and everybody wins?

Lessons I Learened:

  • Unjust punishment of many is ok if it serves the future of the few.
  • Sometimes you must endure hardship for a great reward.

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