At the start of Chapter 15, God comes to Abram and makes the promise of all promises. God tells Abram that he will have a son to be his heir. God tells Abram to look up at the stars in the sky; the number of his descendants will number the stars in the sky. Have you ever been to a place where there is ZERO light pollution and seen the night sky? Here in the Joliet/Chicagoland area, we get the short end of the stick when it comes to night sky viewing because of night pollution, and yet there are still so many stars that we can see. But the number of stars in the night sky without light pollution is amazing, and there are thousands more stars that can be seen than what we get to see here. So keep that in mind when you picture Abram descendents.
So fast-foward to verses 7-21, and you read that God doesn’t just stop at Abram having descendents. He also promises an area of land for his descendants. That area of land is currently occupied by other groups of people. BUT (and there’s always a but, isn’t there?) for a period of 400 years, those descendants will be enslaved in a foreign land and will be treated harshly. Of course we all know how that story works out, as this is a foreshadowing of the Israelites in Egypt.
But after God punishes Egypt, which we know will involve plagues, one of which will kill firstborn sons of the Egyptians, Abram’s descendents will make it to this promised land. Well, they will get there four generations later anyway. At the end of the passage, God maps out all of the lands that Abram’s descendants will take over.
Just like God made promises to Abram over 4,000 years ago, and then followed through on His promises, He also makes promises to us as well. We may not always know what those promises are ahead of time. But if you reflect on how and why you have had certain things happen in your life, you may realize that you were put in those situations, not because of complete randomness, but because of intervention from a much higher power.
I’d like to also add that in this passage, keep in mind that God doesn’t only promise a whole bunch of great things to Abram (child, many descendants, land, riches, etc.), but he also promises hardship. 400 years worth to be exact. So as you reflect on your life so far and wonder why, if God promises all of these great things, why does he also allow bad things to happen, remember that sometimes hardships are part of God’s plan as well. We may not understand why while we are going through it, but God always knows what He’s doing and why. We just need to trust His plan.