Bittersweet seems to be the sentiment of these verses. Sweet for God “sees” the Israelites in exile, and provides them a promise. Bitter for the reason that the promise will only be fulfilled after a long time in exile.
From the end of Genesis to the beginning of Exodus is around 400 years, with the 430 years being the final tally of Israel’s time in Egypt. During this time there is no mention of God and the Israelites. The Israelites’ time in Egypt started well, but by the time of Exodus, it was a life of slavery.
There is a huge difference between the two situations. Many commentators posit that the reason for Israel’s time in Egypt was to ween them from the Canaanite religions, especially as a precursor to claiming the Promised Land (where the Canaanites lived).
This time their exile was shorted, but perhaps it was more dangerous; dangerous to the restoration of their relationship with God. There was a warning about not listening to false prophets. In particular, these false prophets were promising that everything would be fine, and all would be restored.
(I’m not sure if they were asking for political donations, but sure sounds like far too many campaign promises.)
One would hope that the promise of God would forestall such people and would keep people from following them. Humans are weak, however. They will fall prey to many.
The message of hope that Christians ought to be wearing proudly as cloaks of glory have been muddied and stained over the years. The last four were the culmination of it. It was never that all of a sudden we chose the mud over the hope; it was that the mud became our hope. The cloaks lost their brilliance. The world lost a lot of hope.
You may feel that the last four years were a mess of misery. You may feel that the next four will be as bad, or even worse. That’s the mud.
Let’s let God clean off our mud again. Amen.