Abraham's Seed

Today, the Bible’s status as the Word of God is challenged as never before. In the eyes of many, authority has been transferred from the “scripture of truth” (Dan. 10: 21) to the science of man. Thus, while the pronouncements of the scientific world are listened to with open–mouthed awe, the plain and simple statements of God’s Book are open to public ridicule— and that very often from men having ecclesiastical standing. Even in Christian  publications there is evidence of a marked lack of confidence in the Scriptures and one may read such headlines as “Archaeology confirms the Bible”—clearly implying that there is more certainty to be invested in the unearthings of the spade of the archaeologist than in the inspired record of the Scriptures. Archaeology, geology and all the other ‘ologies’ of men carry no weight whatsoever in the light of what God has revealed in His Book. God does not need men to confirm what He has made known in His Word. It stands alone and supreme. If anything, it is the Bible that may be turned to for verification of the discoveries of the academic disciplines of men. 

   In the book of Genesis, a book that has suffered most from the mockery of unbelieving men, we read of Abraham and the promises that God made to him. God not only promised that old man of 99 that his 90 year old wife Sarah would bear a child, but that their seed, their progeny, would be multitudinous. Here’s what God said to Abraham: “And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth, so that if any one can number the dust of the earth, thy seed also will be numbered” (Gen. 13: 16). God used a figure of speech, “as the dust of the earth”, to convey to Abraham the order of magnitude of his future offspring. That man of faith could bend down and scoop up a handful of dust, let it trickle through his fingers and thereby gain some impression of the millions that would be his descendants. But there is more.

   After a critical event in Abraham’s history that tested his faith, God reiterated His promise saying “I will richly bless thee, and greatly multiply thy seed, as the stars of heaven, and as the sand that is on the seashore” (Gen. 22: 17). We now have two new figures describing the multitudes who would come from Abraham’s loins. The second tells us that his progeny would be “as the sand that is on the sea shore”. If Abraham’s travels ever took him to the shore of the ocean, he could again bend down, pick up a handful of sand, let it trickle through his fingers and gain exactly the same impressions that he had gained from the dust of the earth: his descendants would be beyond human numbering. But there is a third figure to be taken account of.

   God not only said to Abraham that his seed would be as the dust of the earth and as the sand of the seashore but that He would “greatly multiply thy seed, as the stars of heaven”. Now Abraham could look up to the skies on a clear night and count the stars. That is the critical point: they were countable. Their number was great, but it was nowhere near the order of magnitude of the dust of the earth or the sand on the seashore! No doubt there were unbelieving sceptics in Abraham’s day who could point out this seeming discrepancy to the patriarch. They could pour scorn on what Abraham had been told. They could challenge the Word of God. But Abraham “believed God” (Rom. 4: 3) for faith ignores any seemingly contrary evidence and takes God at His word.

   Now no one doubts that the book of Genesis is old and was written centuries, if not millennia, before men made glass lenses and constructed telescopes from them. In the 17th century, when Galileo took his telescope and put his eye to the heavens, he learnt for the first time that there were far more stars that he had previously observed with his naked eye. But those stars were still countable. Over the years as the power of telescopes increased, so the number of stars in the universe that could be taken account of by men increased. But it is only recently that astronomers have felt confident enough to put an estimate on the total number of stars in the heavens. The numbers vary depending on the source, but they are all of the same order. Some astronomers, for example, estimate that the number of stars in the universe is 7 x 1022, that is seven with 22 noughts after it. The news channel that reported this estimate knew that such a number would be incomprehensible to most people without a meaningful comparison. What comparison did they use? They said that ‘it’s about ten times the number of the grains of sand on all the world’s beaches and deserts’.

   The Creator of the universe knows how many stars there are in the heavens just as He numbers the dust of the earth and the sand of the seashore. The believer knows that “even the hairs of the head are all numbered” (Mat. 10: 30). Unbelief, ancient and modern, has ever challenged God’s Word. But God has said they “shall know whose word shall stand, mine or theirs” (Jer. 45: 28). With every passing year the days grow darker as the shadows of apostasy descend even over that which claims the name of Christ. Nonetheless the darkness only makes faith shine all the brighter. The pronouncements and opinions of man are like those that make them—changeable. The Word of God is also like its Author: “I Jehovah change not” (Mal. 3: 6).