Sand On THe Sea Shore
Someone who had come across a saying by God that He would make the descendents of
Abraham as numerous as the 'sand on the sea shore' suggested to me that God had not
kept this promise as there are billions of grains of sand on the sea shore! It's
obvious that Israel never reached such numbers and they are not a huge nation now!
This seems like a good argument only if one starts with the premise that figures of
speech meant the same to the Hebrew mind as they might do to the Western mind today!
Can I suggest that perhaps we should start with the premise that Jehovah is a God
of His word and then look to see how He fulfills it? I'm suggesting, in other
words, that we should be 'believers' who actually believe what God says in His word?
We should not be placing our thoughts, the guesses from the historical sciences, or any
other source, higher in authority than the word of God, for instance!
As an example of believing God and then checking His word for backing, let's look
at this promise of God to Abraham and see what God's word says about it's fulfillment
and see how the word of God is true and we can have faith in Him in all areas therefore!
So, what was this promise that God made to Abraham? Let's turn to Genesis 22:17...
I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants beyond number,
like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will
conquer the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on
earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”.
This blessing is given to Abraham just after he had been willing to sacrifice
Now some people consider that God did not fulfill this promise to Abraham, because
the children of Abraham today, the Jews scattered around the world, are not a nation
numbering even hundreds of millions of people.
But this is putting our Western mindset on God's word and expecting God to do what
we want for us to consider Him faithful! This is not correct thinking. We need to
see things in the bible from an Eastern mindset, the mindset of the Hebrews who
wrote it under inspiration and for whom it was primarily written.
So what did the Hebrew mind consider when someone said - "like the sand on the
Let's see what the Hebrews thought a few generations later in the time of Solomon.
1 Kings 4:20
[ Regarding Solomon’s Prosperity and Wisdom ] The people of Judah and Israel
were as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They were very contented, with
plenty to eat and drink.
Now you might think that was just hyperbole regarding Solomon's reign and it's just
one comment in isolation. You need more than that! So, what about the book of Isaiah?
But though the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand of the seashore, only
a remnant of them will return. The Lord has rightly decided to destroy his people.
This passage not only tells you that the nation of Israel achieved the size that
God promised and that the Israelites expected, but that there was a reason why they
would appear to be small in future ages. This is because they did not recognise that
God deserved to be first in their lives.
But this is in the Old Testament and you may be thinking that they didn't understand
what the phrase meant. We should look to someone who wrote after the time of Jesus
to confirm whether the promise was kept...
So let's look at the book of Hebrews and what Paul had to say.
And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation
with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore,
there is no way to count them.
Here in the New Testament, Paul tells us that the nation of Israel was so numerous
that their numbers were like the sand on the seashore and like the stars in the sky!
God DID fulfill His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel). He DID make the nation
as numerous as the sand on the seashore. It's a phrase denoting a large number, such
as we might mean if we were to say "millions" today. God was working within the
mindset of the Hebrew people and He did everything which He promised them.
We have a great God. We have a good God. And just as importantly, we have a God who
is faithful to keep His promises; always!
wishes for grace and the peace of Jesus.
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