The Evangelical Universalist Forum

As numerous as the stars

Does the picture of the promise in Genisis regarding Abraham’s descendants being as numerous as the stars or the sand on the sea shore point towards universal reconciliation?

I doubt it. I think it just means Abraham will have a whole lot of descendents. I won’t even call it “hyperbole”, for in the days of Moses, “the number of stars” probably meant no more than the number of visible stars.

Hmm…100 to 105 billion people have ever lived:

There may be between 2.5 and 10 sextillion grains of sands on all the worlds beaches (1 sextillion = 10 billion billion stars).

There may be approx. 10 to 200 sextillion stars in the universe.

Very interesting…

Edited: to include correct link to second article

I agree that it’s hyperbole, but I do think it’s hyperbolic for a reason. It was one of the things I wondered and wondered about. How can you say in one breath, “numerous as the stars,” and in the next, “few are they that find it”? That just didn’t work for me. So yes, for me at least, this IS an argument for UR – or at least, for the literalist, it is a problem. :wink:

Thanks for you’re learned input Mr P. I guess we are not clutching at straws to defend UR are we? Mr C :wink:

It absolutely does, yep – but not primarily about the number of stars or sands, that’s just poetic imagery. Important for emphasizing the scope, but not the main ground.

I talk about it in my commentary notes for Galatians 3. There are connections to Hebrews 9:27 and its contexts, too (though I haven’t written as extensively on that yet. A ton of my notes on Hebrews aren’t posted yet. :wink: )

I fail to see any relationship between the many descendants of Abraham and universal reconciliation.

Well, obviously Israel-after-the-flesh aren’t automatically saved from punishment for being physical descendants of Abraham (and weren’t in the days of Isaiah, which is what Paul was referencing).

But I make it very clear in my commentary notes (as well as in the post linking to the commentary notes) that I don’t regard the main ground to be the large number per se. It only has secondary importance for emphasizing the scope.

Much more importantly, once connected by virtue of Christ, having descended from Abraham Himself physically, all rational creatures are counted as descendants of Abraham (for purposes of fulfilling the covenant promise) by a spiritual union which transcends physical descent. The exact total number of rational creatures created by their Creator is irrelevant – though obviously very large.

Mr P, the Isaiah quote needs to be taken in the context of which Paul is speaking extensively in the setting of Romans IMHO. In Isaiah it refers to the impending judgment of God about to fall on those to whom Isaiah is writing and concerns there impending captivity in Babylon.

Um… so you agree with me that Paul was referencing the punishment of Israel in the days of Isaiah? :confused:

Yes Jason. Paul is looking back at his peoples history and relating it to the context he is addressing in Romans which is that of Gods actions in judgment of his covenant people and the inclusion of the Gentiles ergo us which is a lot of people indeed as Rob Bells book puts it everyone who ever lived. Wide wide as the oceans high as the heavens above deep deep as the deepest sea is my saviours love! :smiley:

Interestingly, I came across the following similar passage of stars/grains in Jeremiah 33 while my Pastor was preaching something unrelated in the same passage. His message centered in fact with a couple of verses before it which I included, as it is important to the context of this discussion:

*"Thus saith the Lord; If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season;

Then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers.

As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me." - Jeremiah 33:20-22*

Obviously, this is referencing the Genesis passages, but it is significant that it extents to David and his successors to the throne (ultimately culminating with Christ). Seemingly immutable is the declaration that one can sooner break the covenant of night and day than one could break the covenant God has with David and his servants, as well as the Levite priests. The same group (David, servants, Levites) being mentioned in verse 22 brings the scope of the number of stars/grains of sand into focus through the line of David and the priestly line. Even in dealing with hyperbole, we know David wasn’t that prolific. Yet it would seem that the host of heaven would be more than we could ever imagine.

If Jesus is the King of Kings (of the line of David, of course), and Lord of Lords, AND our High Priest (as the Law is fulfilled in Him), then it would stand to reason that the heavenly host would be seeded through Him. (Indeed, Paul asserts that Christ is *the Seed *in Galatians 3:16) Since Christ died for the sins of the whole world (I John 2:2), it would indeed be a very large number, if not all inclusive, even if one didn’t do the math of all the people who have ever lived. And it would certainly be far more than the few minority that is supposedly only exclusively being saved.

How refreshing to see scriptures refute the idea than only some few lucky ones, comparision to the population of the whole world, are destined for heaven! That is the whole reason why I rejected the traditional fate taught in most evangelical churches to come to a greater Hope and greater Love for mankind.