Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.”
Last week, we read God’s reaffirmation of His promise to Abraham—that Abraham’s descendants would be “like the stars” (Genesis 15:5). Abraham believed that promise despite how unlikely it seemed (verse 6).
Here God reveals that His promise will not be fulfilled until after the descendants of Abraham (later called “Israel” after Abraham’s grandson) are “strangers in a land that is not theirs” for 400 years.
This is a prophecy that includes the sojourning of the children of Israel in Egypt. The later chapters of the book of Genesis explain how the Israelites ended up in Egypt due to Joseph’s position and a famine in Canaan (Genesis 42-50). After the death of Joseph, a new pharaoh arose in Egypt who did not know and respect Joseph’s legacy and who enslaved the Israelites (Exodus 1:8-11).
The Bible reveals that the sojourn of Abraham and his descendants, including the period of time from when they were enslaved until the exodus, lasted 430 years (Exodus 12:40-41). The book of Exodus is the record of how Israel was delivered from Egypt through God’s servant Moses.
We can learn a very important lesson from this: God’s people often have to endure trials and sufferings before they can experience the fullness of God’s promises. God’s ultimate promise is eternal life in the Kingdom of God. The Bible teaches that “we must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
To learn more about the difficulties Christians face before they enter the wonderful Kingdom of God, read our article “Narrow Is the Gate.”
Tomorrow on the Daily Bible Verse Blog: “Christmas Eve, Santa and Lying.”