After Memorial Day, my thoughts turn toward the coast. For as long as I can remember, my family went to the beach in the summer. With three brothers, our vacations were never fancy, but they were full of countless hours beneath the hot Carolina sun and the cool waters of the Atlantic. When I became a Christian, sand took on a new meaning for me after I read Genesis 22:17. The beach now also reminds me of Abraham.
An Extravagant Promise
The promise of Genesis 22:17 is that Abraham’s offspring will be like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. In other words, Abraham’s family will be too numerous to count. Yet, when he died, he had nothing close to this kind of family. Nevertheless, he trusted God to fulfill His word (Heb. 6:15; 11:8–10).
Before moving on too quickly, we must pause and recognize that the scope of God’s promise to Abraham is nothing short of breathtaking. It invites us to believe that God is generous. He does not withhold His best from His children. He makes extravagant promises to them because He loves them.
Nowhere is the extravagance of God made more plain in the Scriptures than Romans 8:32: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” What strained the eyes of Abraham’s faith is now revealed with high-definition clarity in the cross of Christ. God keeps His extravagant promise through the painful gore of the bloody tree. There simply is no greater demonstration of His lavish and undeserved love than this.
An Extraordinary God
Therefore, only an extraordinary God can make extravagant promises that are believable. If we are Christians, we are the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham (Gal. 3:29). And yet, we still walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). We still wonder whether all that God has promised us in the gospel will come to pass. Therefore, He bids us come and read. In His Word, He recounts the story of Abraham to us. He shows us a very ordinary man who was granted extravagant promises by an extraordinary God.
The same God, the same faith, and a completed Word (which gives us an advantage Abraham did not enjoy) are all available to us today. This is why Abraham is held out to us as a model of faith. The same faith that carried him through decades of waiting for even the beginning of the fulfillment of the promise God made to him will carry us through the days and seasons of our lives.
So, the next time you’re at the beach, grasp a handful of sand. Then, let it sprinkle from your fist and see in the windswept particles an extravagant promise, a bloody cross, and an extraordinary God.