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Counting the Stars

Astronomy is the scientific study of everything in outer space. The telescope provides amateurs and scientists with an investigative tool to explore astronomy. Since the cost of a telescope can be pricy, most human beings star gaze on clear nights. If you live in a large city, you won’t have the same experience as someone in the country. Nonetheless, when you’re young and carefree, you may find yourself one evening trying to count the stars visible in the night sky.

And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, This man shall not be your heir, but he who shall come from your own body shall be your heir. And He brought him outside [his tent into the starlight] and said, Look now toward the heavens and count the stars—if you are able to number them. Then He said to him, So shall your descendants be, Genesis 15:4-5.

After a moment of doubt, struggling to believe that he would become the father of a great nation, the Word of the Lord comes to Abram. During this encounter, Abram is drawn outside of his tent, into the starlight of this countryside. While Moses does not provide a timeline of Abram’s moment with God, counting the stars appears to be a rhetorical question. Since Moses doesn’t mention Abram counting out loud, this reference is a foreshadowing of the future of Israel’s descendants.

And [God] said to Abram, Know positively that your descendants will be strangers dwelling as temporary residents in a land that is not theirs [Egypt], and they will be slaves there and will be afflicted and oppressed for 400 years. [Fulfilled in Exod. 12:40.] 14 But I will bring judgment on that nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with great possessions, Genesis 15:13-14.

Meanwhile, this encounter continues with a brief nightmare which fills Abram with fear and terror. God uses this dark image as a teachable moment, explaining to Abram what has to happened before the promise spoken in Genesis 12:1-3 is fulfilled. This portion of Scripture gets Moses’ attention as he was the man God chose to lead the Exodus out of Egypt. The next time you find yourself engaged by a vivid starlight, remember that God delivered for Abraham and continues to fulfill promises made in the Bible.

by Jay Mankus


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