I am not sure how excited you would get with this promise?

“So he left the country of the Chaldees and moved to Haran. After the death of his father, he immigrated to this country where you now live, but God gave him nothing, not so much as a foothold. He did promise to give the country to him and his son later on, even though Abraham had no son at the time. God let him know that his offspring would move to an alien country where they would be enslaved and brutalized for four hundred years. ‘But,’ God said, ‘I will step in and take care of those slaveholders and bring my people out so they can worship me in this place.’

So God promises Abraham that, if he leaves the land of his fore fathers, his descendents will spend four hundred years in slavery to th Egyptians. This is not the kind of promise to inspire enthusiasm in the hearer. God wants you to let go of every bit of security and launch off into a future where there is a certainty of suffering for your descendents! I know this would not go down at all well in the self-centred culture of our society, and much of our religion, today. Abraham, however, was a different cut and, we can see by Stephen’s recitation, he too was willing to give all for God.

Enslavement to the Egyptians was foreboading but not the main part of the promise. The main part of the promise, the part to instill conficence and faith in the purposes of God, was that he would step in and take care of them. In doing this G0d would fulfil his purpose of bringing a worshipping people into the promise of the land and, eventually, into the knowledge of the Saviour. The promise of delivery from being enslaved to the Egyptians foreshadowed a great promise and a greater deliver in Jesus Christ.

Should we fear any suffering to come or should be better trust in the promise of God in Jesus Christ ‘.And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’

May the God of hope, who leads us through the sufferings of this world and the hardships of the desert wildness, fill our hearts with the love of God that gives all and expects only the faithfulness of God in return. Amen.