In the previous post, we explored the impact of Esau’s choices, and how his bitterness was — most likely — compounded by intermarrying with Ishmael’s clan, since Ishmael and Esau both lost their birthright.
Before we continue, it’s important to recap our progress in this study, so we don’t lose sight of the beginning or ending of the story.
We know Ezekiel warns us about a massive end-times war involving several Middle Eastern nations we can trace as direct descendants of Noah. That was our starting point, which ultimately led us to the original oath of divided territories and Canaan’s misappropriation of land belonging to Arpachshad.
We also know two curses were attributed to Canaan:
“Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers” (Genesis 9:25 ESV)
‘Thou hast settled in a land which is not thine, and which did not fall to us by lot: do not do so; for if thou dost do so, thou and thy sons will fall in the land and (be) accursed through sedition; for by sedition ye have settled, and by sedition will thy children fall, and thou shalt be rooted out for ever. Dwell not in the dwelling of Shem; for to Shem and to his sons did it come by their lot. Cursed art thou, and cursed shalt thou be beyond all the sons of Noah, by the curse by which we bound ourselves by an oath in the presence of the holy judge, and in the presence of Noah our father.’
Despite Canaan’s curses, and despite the promises given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, nothing seemed to change for centuries.
Tracing the genealogies of Genesis 10 and 11, from the birth of Peleg — when the nations divided — to the time Abraham departed from Haran at age 75 (Genesis 12:4), we count 266 years: Peleg to Reu (30yrs), to Serug (32yrs), to Nahor (30yrs) to Terah (29yrs), to Abraham (70yrs), to Abraham’s departure (75yrs).
Years later God gave Abraham a bit of perspective concerning the fulfillment of His promise:
“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. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete” (Genesis 15:13-16 ESV).
Jacob arrived in Egypt with his entire family when he was 130 years old (Genesis 47:9), so that means another 217 years passed. Abraham was 100 at the birth of Isaac (25yrs since his departure from Haran), Isaac was 62 at the birth of Jacob, and Jacob arrived in Egypt when he was 130.
Combined, that’s roughly 483 years from the time Canaan misappropriated the land belonging to Arpachshad, yet his curse was still unfulfilled.
In addition to that, we know the promise given to Abraham would be at least 400 years away from being realized, since God told Abraham his descendants would be afflicted for 400 years in the land they sojourned.
Imagine waiting 883 years for something… Given our lifespans, it would hard to image waiting 883 months (73.6 years).
These numbers are important, because it helps us understand two important lessons: (1) God is reliable, because He fulfills His promises, and (2) It may take longer than we anticipate, but we can still trust Him.
As we’ll see from the next installment in this series, the culmination of fulfillment for both Canaan’s curse and Abraham’s promise would take even longer still. Read more here…