How Much Time Is Enough?

“And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete” (Genesis 15:16)

The objection has been raised in regards to the Book of Joshua and the occupation of the land of Canaan by the children of Israel, that it doesn’t quite seem fair to the people who already inhabited the land. How can God be considered good and just, it has been asked, when it seems that He ordered the arbitrary genocide of an entire race of people?

In the Book of Leviticus, we catch a glimpse of just how horrific and appalling the sins of this people had become by the time the Israelites began to take possession of the land. Their depravity had reached such a point that the land itself is said to have become defiled, and that this land vomited them out, as it were (Lev. 18:24-28). But the question remains, Did they have ample opportunity to turn from their sin before judgment came upon them?

Almost a footnote in God’s prophecy to Abraham concerning the coming captivity of the Jewish people to the Egyptians, the Lord mentions in Genesis 15:16, “…For the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” How profound are the implications of this simple statement! We see that God is concerned with the fate of the people who already occupy the land of Canaan. These are real people whom God loves and wants to turn to Him. There is no question that it was not God’s desire that these people be utterly wiped out by the nation of Israel. No, He wanted them to repent of their sins. Their iniquity was “not yet complete”, in other words, they were being given time to come around. What if they had repented and come to God, would they have been destroyed anyway? Since God had already decreed it, was there no hope for them?

If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it.” (Jeremiah 18:7-8)

The people already in the land of Canaan were afforded more than 400 years to repent of their wickedness and turn to God. If four centuries was insufficient time for them to change, then how much time was necessary? Secular humanists say that mankind, left to his own devices, will become  better and more responsible with greater moral character over time. Human morality, they say, is “evolving” just as our physical bodies are “evolving.” The suggestion is that man becomes nobler as time goes by, and his actions more benevolent. But this certainly was not the case for the Amorites. God gave them more than 400 years to turn from their sins and all they did during that time was become worse and worse.

“But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” (Romans 2:5)

God gave a space of time to the Canaanites that they might turn from their sin and turn to Him. He graciously gave them 400 years to come to Him. But all that they did during this time was become bolder in their sinfulness and more blatant in their wickedness. The problem was not that they did not have enough time to come to God, but that they chose not to. The problem also was not that they were ignorant of Who God was nor of His glory (Joshua 2:9-11). The problem was that they loved their sin and despised God, rejecting His gracious offer of repentance and exhausting His long-suffering patience. With each passing day they became more emboldened in their rebellion, thinking that God’s judgment would never come. Yet they succeeded not in preventing the inevitable, only in storing up the wrath of God against themselves.

If you have not yet come to Christ, turning from your own sins, then may I ask you: How much time is enough? Are you waiting for another day, preferring to enjoy the temporary and fleeting pleasures of your own sinfulness a little longer? Are you supposing that there will be time enough later to come to God and make things right with Him? God is patient and He allows all of us a period of time to repent and turn to Him, but the time comes when we have exhausted His patience, repudiated His Grace, and waited too long. The Amorites had 400 years, but we can be assured that we have nowhere near so long. Like them, we know not how long we do have before all that remains for us is certain judgment. Won’t you come to Him today?

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,


[This post was originally published December 17, 2009]

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

***All Scripture quotations in this post are from: English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.


6 thoughts on “How Much Time Is Enough?”

  1. “For the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.”

    I’ve read that piece of scripture I don’t know how many times but never picked up on the implications as you explained in your post. God is patient and full of mercy. 400 years is a long time and there was no inkling that they were going to repent and change their ways.

    They say that man never learns from history but instead repeats history. Our secular history books testify to that.

    God is clear that He shows mercy and is long-suffering but there comes a time when the iniquity of a person is full. I don’t know what to say except that it is my prayer that people will come to Him before they reach the fullness of their inequity.

    Thank you for this great explanation — like I said, I never picked up on that piece of scripture in that light.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “I don’t know what to say except that it is my prayer that people will come to Him before they reach the fullness of their iniquity.”

      That’s my prayer, too. Thanks, Tishrei, fo sharing your comments.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Loren,

    That is about the most important question in life….. We all need to look at all the proofs of God’s almighty power and salvation in Jesus Christ and realize how His judgments will include even “little-ol’-me”…… There is no way any one of us will escape the end judgment….. And yet, how very many people really think they will either escape judgment or that there will be no judgment….. That is being very short-sighted.

    Thank you for showing how God’s judgment will come, no matter what the world thinks.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sadly Margaret, you are so very correct.

    I’ve often wondered if people think they are going to escape judgment. Here’s what I think. They don’t believe that they will suffer. They either rely on their own ‘goodness’ or they don’t believe that the Word of God is truth. If a person really believes that God will judge and the truth of His word, they can’t but help make a choice for Him. It’s not people are saying they know that the bible is truth but choose to be damned. People don’t choose an eternity of damnation. They don’t have the eyes to see and the ears to hear. I can only say that from my perspective because before I came to Christ, the Bible was not something I accepted as truth in any way, shape or form. I was not knowingly choosing to reject the truth, I did not believe it was truth.

    Sad, huh?

    Liked by 1 person

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