The fulfillment of the promise,
"They will return in the fourth generation"
The meaning of the torch covenant
Of the many covenants in the Old Testament, the most concrete and definite covenant is the Covenant of the Torch of Genesis 15. Historically, it signifies the recovery of Israel through the conquering of Canaan. But ultimately, it signifies the fallen mankind's recovery of the "heavenly land" and its "people." Gen 15:13-16 "God said to Abram, Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs. where they will be oppressed four
hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age. Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete."
In the Covenant of the Torch, God stated that Abraham's descendants will enter Egypt and become slaves in a foreign land for 400 years. Furthermore, He stated that Abraham's descendants would return to Canaan in four generations.
Who is the fourth generation descendant that fulfills the torch covenant?
When God anointed David as king, He did not look at his a ppearance but at his heart (1 Sam 16:7). The persons included in the 4 generations that fulfill the covenant must be people "after God's own heart" (Acts 13:22).
1st generation : Abraham - The one whom God has chosen and made a covenant with.
2nd generation : Isaac - He succeeded the covenant by precisely continuing the faith transmitted to him by Abraham. This was evident in the fact that he tacitly obeyed his father Abraham (and God) as he tried to sacrifice him on the mountain in Moriah. At the time, Isaac was a young adult strong enough to carry up the mountain the firewood to be used for the sacrifice. "Nor are they all children because they are Abraham's descendants, but : "through Isaac your descendants will be named." Rom 9:7-9
3rd generation : Jacob - Between the sons of Isaac, Esau and Jacob, it was Jacob who received the blessing and the birthright of the firstborn (Gen 25:22-34; 27:5-40). His life was burning fervently with the unwavering faith in the covenant of the torch. God declared "I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac" and the God of Jacob (Gen 28:13).
4th generation : Joseph - Jacob had twelve sons and these sons became the twelve tribes of Israel. Who would become the 4th generation descendant that would continue the line of faith after Jacob?
1 Chr 5:1-2 "Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (for he was the firstborn, but because he defiled his father's bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph the son of Israel; so that he is not enrolled in the genealogy according to the birthright. Though Judah prevailed over his brothers, and from him came the leader, yet the birthright belonged to Joseph)"
The word "birthright" in Hebrew is "bakorah" whice means "birthright, primogenithre." (Gen 25:31-34). This passage clearly testifies that the birthright which continues from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob now belongs to Joseph. Hebrews chapter 11 lists the "Hall of Faith." and verses 8 through 21 records the 3 generations of faith in Abraham. Isaac and Jacob. The next person in the list is Joseph and he is the only one of the twelve sons of Jacob that is recorded in Hebrews 11.
Hebrews 11:22 "By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones."
The fulfillment of the "fourth generation" through the bones of Joseph
The promise that "in the fourth generatiohn they will return here" (Gen 15:16) is fulfilled through Joseph, the fourth generation descendant after Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. However, Joseph dies at the age of 110 in Egypt (Gen 50:26), so how can the prophecy that they will return in the fourth generation be fulfilled?
*Joseph is put into a coffin in Egypt (276th year of the covenant of the torch)
Joseph requested that his corpse be embalmed and put into the coffin but not buried in Egypt so that it may remain with the children of Israel (Gen 50:24-25)
*The exodus of Joseph's bones (636th year of the covenant of the torch)
360 years after Joseph's last will and testament, the Israelites came out of Egypt. Moses, recalling the request of Joseph to his children, takes up Joseph's coffin (Exod 13:19). The Exodus was not simply the liberation of a people but God's fulfillment of the covenant of the torch.
*Joseph's bones are buried in Canaan (Shechem; 692nd year of the covenant of the torch)
After 40 years in the wilderness and 16 years in conquering Canaan, Joseph's bones are finally buried in Shechem of Canaan in the year 1390 BC (Josh 24:29-32).
Just as his corpse had been mummified to prevent decay, his living faith did not deteriorate during the passage of several hundred years. Although Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are dead physically, God called them "the living" in acknowledgement of their living faith. Joseph was also physically dead but living in faith. As such, Joseph fulfilled God's covenant as the 4th generation of faith from Abraham. Joseph's bones were not dead, petrified pieces of debris but living signs affirming how the eternally living God is faithful to His covenants. God's Word will be fulfilled no matter how much time has passed. Moreover, the hope of heaven bestowed upon the saints of Jesus Christ will also be surely accomplished.
-This excerpt has been extracted and summarized from The Covenant of the Torch