It was a beautiful summer evening. My husband and I decided to go to Hamlin Beach. We took off our shoes and felt the sand between our toes as we strolled along the shore of Lake Ontario. Darkness descended and stars appeared. It was beautiful. So many sand granules beneath our feet and so many stars above our heads.
As we gazed upon the magnitude of stars, I was overwhelmed with awe. I thought about Abram, later Abraham. I wondered how he felt as he looked into the heavens many years ago. On one of those special nights, God spoke to him about stars and sand.
Genesis 15 records Abram’s vision and his conversation with God that culminated with a covenant. Genesis 15:5 says, “He (God) took him (Abram) outside and said, ‘Look up at the sky and count the stars–if indeed you can count them.’ Then He said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’” God intentionally wanted Abram to be aware of the vastness of the heavens when He spoke His words of promise. It is important to notice in verse 6 that, “Abram believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness.”
In Genesis 17, we learn that God changed Abram’s name to Abraham. The name change was a sign of God’s covenant with Abraham and his future descendants. God says in Genesis 17:7, “I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you.”
Years went by and God reiterated His covenant with Abraham’s son, Isaac. God confirmed the covenant He made with Abraham to Isaac in Genesis 26:4. “I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed,.” Abraham’s descendants were increasing. Their numbers were becoming more like the stars in the sky and the sand on the earth.
God is described as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This meant the oath needed to be extended to another generation. Jacob, Isaac’s son, had a dream about a ladder. Genesis 28:13-15 says, “And there at the top the LORD was standing and saying, “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you now lie. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and east and north and south. All the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. Look, I am with you, and I will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
These scriptures help us understand how Abraham’s descendants became as numerous as the stars and sand. The story began with God’s promise to one man. When the Israelites left Egypt to travel to the Promised Land, it is estimated that there were approximately 2.4 million people. That is a lot of sand granules and twinkling stars!
God’s covenant was a promise to the generations of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Spirit Filled Life Bible says that a covenant is one of the most theologically important words in the Bible. Covenant comes from the Hebrew word berit defined as a pledge or agreement made by God with His people. The greatest provision of the Abrahamic covenant is that it is the foundation stone of Israel’s eternal relationship to God. All other Biblical promises are based on this.
So, how many promises are there in the Bible? I tried to find the answer online. I liked the comment on bibleQ. “The Bible is so full of God’s promises, that it is not really possible to count them. Some people have tried and come up with about 3000. Others have counted 7000. Herbert Lockyer wrote a book called All the Promises of the Bible and claims to list 8000.” God’s promises are as hard to count as sand and stars!
Today, God desires to fulfill more of His promises than we realize. Isaiah 55:11 says, “so is My word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Going back to Genesis 15:6, we learned that Abraham believed God. So, let us believe. Hebrews 10:23 says, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.”
Paul gives glory to God in Ephesians 3:20, “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” My attention is drawn to the word “immeasurably”. Not only are we not able to accurately count all of God’s promises, but neither can we measure God’s power available to us. Sand, stars, promises and power are all more numerous than we can comprehend.
I recall our starry evening on a sandy beach. Now I understand the symbolic message in relation to God’s promises and power. Praise the Lord for His abundance!
One final scripture comes to my mind. I declare with David the words of Psalm 139:17-18, “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God. How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.”