Chapter-2  The God of Limited Tolerance

Genesis 15 contains a wonderful dialogue between God and Abraham. At this point in his life, Abraham is greatly discouraged as he has waited so long for God to fulfill the promise he had given Abraham — that he would have a son. In this section of Scripture, we see a desperate man pour out his heart to God. In response, God renews his promise to him, and in the specific details, reveals two very important characteristics of himself to Abraham and to us:

(1) He reveals that he is a God who brings judgment upon nations.

(2) He has set a limit to the amount of sin he will tolerate from each nation.

Genesis 15:13-16 NIV *1*

[13] Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. [14] But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. [15] You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. [16] In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.

These themes that are repeated throughout Scripture make it clear that even God will only tolerate so much.

During the American Civil War, a song emerged that captured the hearts of many people, ‘The Battle Hymn of The Republic’. The first stanza sings,

     “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord,

     He has trampled out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.
     He has loosed his faithful lightening and his terrible swift sword,
     His TRUTH is marching on.”

The fulfillment of these words/themes (applying literally to the nations mentioned above) take place in the following passages:

In Exodus chapters 7-14, we see the hand of the Lord ‘punishing’ the land of Egypt with ten very destructive plagues.

And after the four hundred years had passed, the Israelites destroyed the two kings Sihon and Og and the Amorites east of the Jordan. Listen to the testimony of these facts as recounted by Rehab, the woman who provided shelter for the two Spies from Israel, whom Joshua had sent into Jericho.

Joshua 2:8-11 NIV *2*

[8] Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof [9] and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. [10] We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. [11] When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.”

Even the God of patience has his limits as seen in his treatment of the Egyptians and the Amorites. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death. And this was the consequence for numerous Egyptians, the Amorites and ultimately for any individual or nation that persists in sin.

So the questions arise, “Are there any indicators along the way that are given to tell individuals (or a nation) that they are (it is) approaching the limits of the sin that God will tolerate?” And, “Is there any hope for an individual or a nation that has really messed up?”  I believe the short answer is, “Yes!” These are some of the topics we will consider as we wrestle with the questions, “Reader, where are you?” And, “America, where are you?”

*1*.  Genesis 15:13-16  NIV  Bible Gateway –

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