A brand new year and a brand new issue of Bible Lessons opens for study and discovery! Our beginning theme this year is the journey of the Israelites from the time they were promised to be a nation to their entrance into the land of promise. Although we will not be able to cover every detail, we want to focus on the many spiritual lessons which can be learned from this important time in history.

Paul wrote in I Corinthians 10:11, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition…” In Romans 15:4 he said, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” The message in these lessons is one of hope. I pray we will get a greater vision of the character of God, the power of God, the plan of God and what He can do for us when we trust Him.

The story we are studying is long and very detailed in Scripture. There is no way we can put all the reading material into the lessons, so I will use verses that summarize what we are studying and include an extra list of scriptures that pertains to each individual lesson. Some of the discussion questions may involve material from those lists, and not just from the verses printed in the lesson. It may help to have several members of the class open their Bibles to those different passages and be ready to supply information for the lesson from those scriptures.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck

JANUARY 6, 2020

(Background Reading: Genesis 15, 46, 47, 49 and 50)

Genesis 15:13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;

14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.

15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.

16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.

18 In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:

19 The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites,

20 And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims,

21 And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.

Genesis 46:1 And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac.

2 And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I.

3 And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation:

4 I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.

5 And Jacob rose up from Beersheba: and the sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, and their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him.

6 And they took their cattle, and their goods, which they had gotten in the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob, and all his seed with him:

7 His sons, and his sons’ sons with him, his daughters, and his sons’ daughters, and all his seed brought he with him into Egypt.

26 All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob’s sons’ wives, all the souls were threescore and six;

27 And the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were two souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten.

Genesis 47:11 And Joseph placed his father and his brethren, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded.

12 And Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his father’s household, with bread, according to their families.

27 And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions therein, and grew, and multiplied exceedingly.

Genesis 48:21 And Israel said unto Joseph, Behold, I die: but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers.

Genesis 50:22 And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father’s house: and Joseph lived an hundred and ten years.

24 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

25 And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.

26 So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

MEMORY VERSE: Israel also came into Egypt; and Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham. And he increased his people greatly; and made them stronger than their enemies. — Psalm 105:23-24

CENTRAL THOUGHT: The journey of Israel into Egypt and, many years later, the exodus out of Egypt, was foretold by God unto Abraham, repeated in a vision from God to Jacob, who, as he was dying, promised Joseph that God would indeed bring his people out of Egypt. Joseph also, upon his dying bed, prophesied that God would visit them and they would carry his bones out of Egypt.


Genesis 15:16 “In the fourth generation”: As Moses was the fourth generation from Levi, and Caleb was the fourth from Judah, it seems that a generation meant here about one hundred years, or the average age of man (at that time) from birth to death.


In Genesis 15 we read how God made a covenant with Abram to bring his descendants, a great nation of people, out of the land which was “not theirs,” in which they would have served some four hundred years in great bondage. He had called Abram out to see the stars and promised that his descendants would be as numerous as the uncountable stars. Abram believed God; however, he asked for a confirmation. God asked for a specific burnt offering to be prepared in a certain way. While waiting on God’s answer by fire, Abram had to drive away the birds of prey and endured a “horror of great darkness.” God’s voice came out of the dark- ness and gave him this promise; afterward, the fire fell upon his sacrifice.

Ten years after this covenant was made with Abram, his wife Sarai, seeing that Abram was now eighty-five years old and still had not even conceived Isaac, gave him her handmaid, Hagar, to be his secondary wife, with whom he had Ishmael (Genesis 16). However, God still maintained the original covenant that his promised seed would be through his wife, Sarai, and visited Abram at age ninety-nine, where He foretold his son’s name; established the covenant of circumcision; changed Abram’s name to Abraham; and Sarai to Sarah (Genesis 17). Abraham was one hundred years old when he and Sarah finally embraced their newborn son, Isaac (Genesis 21).

When God later called Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Moriah, God took his willing obedience for the actual deed, provided a substitute sacrifice, and pronounced His blessing upon Isaac, that his seed would possess the gate of his enemies (Genesis 22).

Isaac’s son, Jacob, was also visited by God, who now established His covenant with him and promised his descendants the land of Canaan. As we can see by the original promise to Abraham, even though the children of Jacob would be detoured in Egypt for several hundred years, His intent was to show them mercy and deliver them. The little hint about the “iniquity of the Amorites” lets us know that during this delay, God was not only working with the Israelite people, but was also showing mercy upon the nations around them.

The remainder of the verses show the progression of events and how they unfolded, just as they were foretold to Abraham. Jacob’s older sons, in a fit of envy, sold their younger brother, Joseph, into Egypt. In an amazing story of God’s unfailing providence, Joseph rose from slavery and prison to be governor of Egypt, just in time to save his people and the entire world from starvation. There they remained and prospered in Egypt’s most fertile land, eventually falling into idolatry and extreme bondage to a Pharaoh who did not welcome them. In God’s fullness of time, He delivered them as He had promised.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


  1. When God said Abram’s seed would be strangers in a “land which was not theirs,” which land did He mean?
  2. Discuss the meaning of the words “not yet full.”
  3. Share how the promise of being brought out of Egypt was given to Jacob.
  4. Share Joseph’s words of faith that the Israelites would be brought out of Egypt.


Two things stand out to me as I consider what may have taken place during the four hundred years Israel was in Egypt. The first was hinted at when God mentioned the iniquity of the Amorites. In searching what people these were, I found several different viewpoints. One is that they were simply the people in the land about Abraham’s place of nativity; the heathen, idol-worshipping nations. They were pantheistic, worshipping many gods. As we know, imbedded within idol worship are wicked, immoral practices; violence, superstition, bloodshed and fear accompany the false religions of the world. Yet God didn’t just overthrow them immediately.

A word picture found several places in Scripture is of the Lord God holding a cup in His hand. When the cup, containing the wickedness of the people, becomes full, He pours it out in retribution and destruction, as in the Great Flood of Noah’s time or the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. During the time of the sojourn of Abraham’s family in Egypt, God was tarrying His destruction upon the “Amorites” until their cup was “full.” I am persuaded that there were many things God did during this time to work with the hearts of the people in that area.

The second discovery came when I was reading in Ezekiel. In the 20th chapter God mentions the judgment He brought to Israel WHILE they were yet in Egypt. During the forty years between Moses’ first attempt at delivering his brethren and the time of the Exodus, God sent judgment upon the idolatry into which they had fallen while they lived in Egypt. Finally, they began to cry the kind of cry that brought deliverance from their oppressors.

This reveals that while the four hundred years was a time of God’s dealings to bring His chosen nation out of their idolatry, their long years in Egyptian idolatry made a lasting mark upon them. Did you ever wonder how it was so easy for them to worship a golden calf so soon after their miraculous deliverance from Egypt? They were reverting back to the idolatry in which they had been involved for so long.

Isaiah 30:18 says, “Therefore will the Lord wait, that He may be gracious unto you.” There is always perfect timing, purpose and method in God’s dealings. They are always for the good of His creation; they are always that He might show His love and mercy…until the cup of wickedness fills up and He must purge the land of it, or until His chosen ones heed His message and turn back to Him.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


The first line of song #60 in the Evening Light Songs hymnal says, “Onward moves the Great Eternal in the order of His plan…” How comforting it is, and how encouraging to our faith, to observe in the Holy Scriptures that God has a plan. God has a plan for nations, and He has a plan for each of us as individuals. It is an all-wise and perfect plan. It goes far beyond our ability, as finite human creatures, to comprehend and understand. Sometimes His plan moves our lives directly opposite to what seems right and good to us. We just can’t see the big picture until after it all unfolds.

I’m sure that poor, young Joseph wrestled with many dark days of loneliness, depression, and discouragement as he trusted in God to fulfill His will and purpose concerning his life. Yet, we have no record that he ever murmured or complained about his lot. He just submitted to what the providence of God allowed to come his way and let God work out His plan and purpose. And, although it took years of suffering, God brought him out in a wealthy and good place. God used Joseph to accomplish a great and important part of His plan. We can rest assured that the same God whom we also serve will so work in our behalf, regardless how dark and gloomy our present circumstances may appear.

“Light after darkness, gain after loss,

Strength after weakness, crown after cross;

Sweet after bitter, hope after fears,

Home after wandering, praise after tears.

“Sheaves after sowing, sun after rain,

Sight after mystery, peace after pain;

Joy after sorrow, calm after blast,

Rest after weariness, sweet rest at last.

“Near after distant, gleam after gloom,

Love after loneliness, life after tomb;

After long agony, rapture of bliss,

Right was the pathway, leading to this.

“Now comes the weeping, then the glad reaping;

Now comes the labor hard, then the reward.”

—Frances R. Havergal, Evening Light Songs #322

—Bro. Harlan Sorrell