After these events, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision:
Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield; your reward will be very great.
But Abram said, “Lord GOD, what can You give me, since I am childless and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus? Abram continued, “Look, You have given me no offspring, so a slave born in my house will be my heir.”
Now the word of the LORD came to him: “This one will not be your heir; instead, one who comes from your own body will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look at the sky and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then He said to him, “Your offspring will be that numerous.”
Abram believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as rigtheousness.
He also said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.”
But he said, “Lord God, how can I know that I will possess it?” – Genesis 15:1-8
First things first, so Abram can believe that God will give him a heir and that the number of offspring from this heir will be more numerous than the stars Abram saw out in the desert sky without any ambient light…but Abram needs something more than God’s word when God tells him about some land that he will possess. That is paradoxical if anything ever was.
However, when I read this today I was thinking about just how many stars Abram saw. If you have never seen the stars in the desert on a clear night then you are missing out on the magnitude of God’s creation. It will seriously blow your mind to sit in the silence and see the thousands of stars hanging out under the night sky. I did a quick search and found that Abram was probably looking at around 6,000 stars at the most that night. Now at first glance that doesn’t seem like that many offspring. How long would it take for Abram’s direct descendants to reach 6,000? And does the fact that only 6,000 were possibly being seen take away from the Christian understanding that this passage was talking about spiritual heirs and not physical heirs? Or did God really mean that was how many or was He making a point to Abram that he was going to be exceedingly blessed with offspring and that was the easiest way to make the point. He couldn’t say to Abram, “Go outside and pick up some sand. You will have as many offspring as the number of granules falling through your hand if you can count them.” It would not have been as hard hitting as seeing the stars was. Still, Abram believed God and God gave him credit for that.
The funny part is that God goes on to tell Abram that he will inherit some land that God had prepared for him and what does Abram say? “How can I know…?” So God can multiply your offspring to where you cannot even count but you can’t believe God to give you some land? What gives Abram?
One last note for those of us who believe that the new promised land is not physical any longer, the land God promised Abram was definitely physical and the offspring that God talked about with Abram were the ones God promised this physical land to. Check out Genesis 15:18-21 for details. So how can we be the offspring God was talking about if the land is physical? Not sure. Will keep studying. Go check out the stars away from the city when you get the chance and let this passage sink in a little. Just how much faith did Abram have? I am thinking a whole bunch.