Stars and Sand

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.

 

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Mephibosheth and Me

 

ii-samuel-4-4Mephibosheth. What a name! What a mouthful to pronounce! Did he have a nickname?

Mephibosheth. Who was he? What do we know about him?

(Jonathan son of Saul had a son who was lame in both feet.
He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan
came from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and fled,
but as she hurried to leave, he fell and became disabled.
His name was Mephibosheth.)
II Samuel 4:4

In this one verse of the Bible, we learn that Mephibosheth was a crippled son of Saul. When Mephibosheth is introduced in scripture, it is in a parenthetical statement which makes me wonder about his importance. Is this information about him an afterthought just for clarification? Why am I even bringing up his name in this blog?

I think we all can identify with Mephi in one way or another. Have you ever felt insignificant? Most of us will answer “yes” to that question – maybe we have felt shoved in a corner while everyone else was having a good time. Have you ever felt like you were dropped? Most of us will again have to admit that we have experienced discouragement when something we thought was important was dropped from an agenda and not acted upon by the majority of people. Are you crippled? Most of us have experienced a time when we have felt incapable of moving forward because we have been wounded and disabled by negative words spoken about us. Yes, in a sense, I believe we are all Methibosheths.

The king said, “Is there not yet anyone of the house of Saul
to whom I may show the kindness of God?” And Ziba said to the king,
“There is still a son of Jonathan who is crippled in both feet.”
So the king said to him, “Where is he?”
II Samuel 9:3-4

Wait a minute! Here is King David inquiring about Methibosheth. Why would he want to meet Methi? We need to remember that Johnathan, Mephibosheth’s father, and David, now king, were close friends. In a previous scriptural account, David made a covenant with Jonathan that he would always care for any living relative of Jonathan. David wanted to fulfill this covenant so he inquired to see if there was a living qualified person. When David found Mephibosheth, he restored all the land that had once belonged to Methi’s grandfather Saul and invited him into his home. David knew the significance of a covenant. We, too, would do well to remember the importance of a covenant we have made with the Lord.

So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons.
II Samuel 9:11

The king assured Mephi that he would always eat at his table. King David even calls him a son! He is not referred to as a cripple but he is defined as a son. How wonderful this must have felt to Mephibosheth! In his book Cast of Characters, Common People in the Hands of an Uncommon God, Max Lucado makes the comparison of Methibotheth’s place at David’s table to our place with Christ. Lucado writes, “We are children of royalty, crippled by the fall, permanently marred by sin.” Ephesians 1:5 says “He (God) predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ.” Like Mephi, we may be crippled but God sees us as sons and daughters and bases His relationship with us upon the covenant we have made with Him rather than upon the label of any of our disabilities or shortcomings. Each time we partake of the sacrament of Communion, we are seated at the Lord’s table.

Mephibosheth. It is still a strange name and a hard name to pronounce, but it is also a name with which we can identify. I do not want to conclude this blog without thinking about the meaning of this name. Mephibosheth means “he who scatters shame.” When I hear this phrase, I think of two possible interpretations. “He who scatters shame” could refer to those who are crippled by shame and spread it on to those who surround them. Or, “He who scatters shame” could refer to those who break up shame so that it no longer can be an influence upon oneself or anyone else. I believe that at the beginning of our story about Mephibosheth, he felt like his condition negatively influenced not only himself but also those around him. However, by the end of the biblical account, Mephibosheth’s shame had been scattered to the wind and it no longer identified who he was. He was now a son and he lived with the king. Yes, we too can be like Mephibosheth! We are part of the family of God, forgiven of all that once crippled us.

Be proud to be a Mephibosheth!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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