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Questions About Israel And Their Enslavement

Discussion in 'Bible Study' started by Jsimms435, Feb 22, 2014.

  1. In Genesis 15:12-14, God speaks to Abram and tells him that his people are going to be enslaved in another country for 400 years, which we know now is Egypt. It sounds like this was all predetermined and that God could not somehow change it. I am just wondering about why that is and why it seems like from God's point of of view it was necessary for this to happen?
  2. Slavery is evil, but God is able to bring good out of anything.

    Whatever manner God deals with His people, whether through something He does or something He allows, it is always to bring glory to Himself. Glory is simply the revealing of God's character and nature such that we can understand and appreciate Him better. So, to find out why the Israelites were enslaved, we need to ask how God revealed His character and nature through the situation. What do we learn about God from this time?

    Remember when God told Abram what would happen to His descendants, He also promised to bring great good out of it? Abraham received many promises from God, but never saw them fulfilled (Hebrews 11:13). Abraham believed God anyway, but I wonder what everyone else thought? Imagine you're one of Abram's neighbors - say, an idol worshipping Canaanite. You hear Abram say his God (of whom you know nothing) made a bunch of promises to him... but years go by and, even though Abram dies, you never see them fulfilled. Wouldn't you think his God is no different than your god? After all, your god never fulfilled any promises either.

    400 years later, God appeared to Moses and said He was now going to act to fulfill the promises made to Abraham (Exodus 3:8). But the Israelites didn't know God anymore. He was the stuff of legends to them. He hadn't spoken in hundreds of years. Moses had to ask who God was so he could tell his people (Exodus 3:13-15). God then gave His name: YHWH.

    Exodus 6:3 says God wasn't known by that name to Abraham, yet Genesis 12:8 says Abraham had called on the name of YHWH. I take this to mean Abraham knew the pronunciation of God's name, but it understand it has a meaning. (It's like knowing someone by the name of Cook, and not realizing he's a great chef.) God was about to show Moses and the Israelites what His name meant.

    One repeated phrase in the Old Testament is "...and then they will know that I am YHWH," or something similar ( i.e. Exodus 6:7-8, 14:4, 1 Samuel 17:47, 1 Kings 20:28, etc). Every time you see this phrase, it is because God says He is going to act to fulfill a promise. So, the meaning of the name YHWH is tied with the God who acts to show Himself real and faithful to His promises.

    Abraham never saw the promises fulfilled, but Moses and the Israelites did. God revealed Himself to them in spectacular ways. As a result, they came to know God better. They knew Him as Savior, Redeemer, Provider, and One who loves them. They knew He was faithful to His promises - even those made hundreds of years ago. They witnessed His power over nature and man. God was glorified in their eyes and the Egyptians', (and to the Canaanites as well: Joshua 2:9-11, Judges 9:24). The glory was greater because God had brought His people out of an otherwise impossible situation. That is the same way He works today. He comes through for us even in impossible situations.

    The slavery aspect also had other benefits. It helped the Israelites to understand the relationship they had to their God. God did not set His people completely free from slavery. He redeemed them to be His own servants. He bought them: they were now His.

    As Christians, we are also redeemed; we are now slaves of Christ. But we have a harder time understanding the ramifications of this because we haven't come from a slavery background. Israel knew what it meant, even though they rebelled over and over again. Thankfully, we have a Master is extremely good, and loves us.
    AllieWi likes this.
  3. God is outside of time. Therefore just because He knows what's going to happen doesn't mean it has to be that way. God chose to tell Abraham what would happen to help bolster their believe in Him and His abilities. Sin complicates understanding God but God moves so that He alone will get the glory and man has to learn that. Man has to learn faith. Because of sin we have to learn the hard way sometimes and God was giving them hope for when that hard time comes. Based on the faith of man (still given by God to man) God can be persuaded to change: look at Abraham, Moses, Hezekiah. Just my two cents. :)
  4. You assume because God foreknew it would happen (because men were given dominion over the earth and have free-will) that He somehow pre-"Determined" it (Calvinists often confuse foreknowing with having caused and allowing with meaning "could not change" which is absurd since we KNOW He is omnipotent) and/or "Could Not" change it, when neither is implied in the text. The Spirit breathing these words merely says it would happen and it did...man who was given dominion over all the things on the earth made choices (that God always offered a way out for) that caused this result...God foreknowing this used it in the entirety of His plan and sent the Son, in the fulness of time, to become a man so man could recapture the dominion we handed over to Satan...because God is true to His word He did not instantly intervene and change this (though He CAN and in some other instances may have, but that's His prerogative) or else He would be violating His own gift to man...

    A great example for this comes out of the story of Cain...God audibly speaks to Cain (foreknowing what Cain is considering)...Cain knew God much more personally than most people today...God offers Cain (by grace) a chance to "go and do it right" and promises him that if he would, that "all will go well with thee"....was GOd a liar? Unable to give Cain what He promised? God forbid! If at this juncture Cain having heard the word of God had turned and did it right (slain the lamb for without the shedding of blood there is no remission) it would have went well with him just as the Lord offered (for God is NOT a man that He should lie) but he would not (not could not)....what we learn here is even though GOd foreknew what Cain was going to do Cain was not made to, forced to, coerced to but had a free volitional choice....and it had to be so for it to be sin.

    If God like a grand puppet master makes me do something (like experimenting on, raping, torturing, and burning 6,000,000 Jews) and I do it...then I have only done His will (irresistibly) and thus He is the author of this evil I could not resist doing and had no choice or responsibility in.
  5. Thanks I needed exactly $.02...
    Abdicate likes this.
  6. Thank you Brother for that thoughtful reply.
  7. God's dealings with the Jews is very interesting. Jesus was planned before the foundations of the Earth. Abraham was selected as the lineage for Jesus. I believe that the moment God selected Abraham, every step of the Jewish race was ordered by God. God does not order the steps of the unrighteous Psalm 37:23 nor hear their prayers John 9:31. So whilst we could never say all Jews were righteous, we can understand that since they were all the seed of Abraham, they were 'sanctified' as a righteous race in God's eyes and hence He was 100% involved in their path. Hence, looking at 400 years in Egypt has to be done with the understanding that it was not merely pre-determined but rather pre-destined.

    For me their rescue from Egypt created the perfect setting to bring His laws upon them / make them His race 'like never before'. They had just been rescued by amazing miracles. Sure a handful made it out of the wilderness, but God's hand remained on them in securing their promised land. There was / is no doubt among any Jew that God's hand was on them! It always amazes me to see them existing whilst surrounded by enemies.

    So much transpired in their escape and wondering the desert. Would this all have been possible under different settings?

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