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…. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete."
Genesis 15:13, 16
As God established His covenant with Abraham, He gave him and his descendants the land of Canaan forever, promised him innumerable offspring and put him in the messianic line so that the promised Savior would come through him. He also gave him a preview of History for the next five hundred years.
God promised to give this land to the descendants of Abraham but there were people already living there. Those people were very wicked. Some of them, the ones who lived in Sodom and Gomorrah, had to be cleansed off of the land even during Abraham’s lifetime.
The rest were given another four hundred years to repent, change their ways and be delivered from God’s pending judgment, even though God knew they would not repent and that their iniquity (perversion) would continue to get worse. It would finally reach the point of no return, and they would have to be destroyed as well. Yet God withheld His hand of judgment, giving them that time.
We can only imagine the injustice, cruelty, and suffering that these people perpetrated on each other and on their neighbors as their perverted lifestyle continued to sink into deeper depravity. What little we do know about them is not fit for publication here. God finally ordered the Israelites, the descendants of Abraham, to completely wipe them out when they returned from Egypt, four hundred years later - right on schedule. This “ethnic cleansing” was not cruelty on God’s part, but His mercy on the rest of the human race, in keeping their wickedness from spreading; it was that bad.
This theme is repeated over and over throughout the Bible. God is merciful. He is always ready to forgive and deliver anyone who turns to Him in repentance. His patience is enormous; but there is a point beyond which people become irredeemable and so contagiously perverted that they must be removed. And so we have the Flood; we have fire and brimstone raining down on Sodom; we have divinely mandated genocide, and we have the final judgment.
At the same time we see the promised Savior who came Himself to take the burden of our guilt, our sinful, perverted nature and the divine punishment due to us because of it. Anyone who turns in repentance to Jesus is forgiven, declared innocent, delivered from sin’s enslaving power, and made one of God’s own beloved children, the true Chosen People of God, Abraham’s faith-descendants.
Lord, You have given us centuries to listen and learn. You have filled History with examples to avoid. You have offered forgiveness, deliverance and salvation to anyone who will come to You. Have mercy on us now. Give the gift of repentance and faith while there’s still time. Turn many hearts to You in our generation, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Pastor Dan Giles