Consider the stars
Genesis 15: 1-6 (NRSVA)
1 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.’ 2 But Abram said, ‘O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’ 3 And Abram said, ‘You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.’ 4 But the word of the Lord came to him, ‘This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.’ 5 He brought him outside and said, ‘Look towards heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ 6 And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.
‘Who do you think you are?’ can be used as a mocking phrase to another person, when you think they are putting on false airs and graces. ‘Who do you think you are?’ is also a long-running TV programme, where celebrities enlist the help of historians and archivists to trace their family tree, and learn about the circumstances around how their ancestors lived.
The Bible lists the family lines of characters at various points in the narrative as part of telling the history of the people of God. Matthew begins: ‘A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham’, and in Luke 3:34 Abraham appears in the list tracing Jesus back to Adam. In Galatians 3:29, the apostle Paul names Abraham as the Father of all who believe in God – so Abraham is our Father too.
In today’s passage, this all seems impossible as Abram and Sarai are childless, and it would be 25 years from God’s first promise to Abram that he would be made into a great nation to the birth of Isaac when Abraham was 100 years old.
How fitting that God used the stars as a visual aid, to remind Abram every night of the promise not just of one miracle child but that his own descendants would become a great nation. This regular night-time vision helps Abram navigate his nomadic journey out of his homeland on the way to becoming Father Abraham. Utterly powerless to make the promise happen himself, though he tried his very best, he could not reach up to the stars any more than make Sarah’s womb bear a child after years of barrenness.
How fitting a reminder for us when we look up to the night sky, that God is still in the business of creating children for Abraham, and we are included in that worldwide family.
Lift our eyes to the wonder of the many stars, each held in place by your loving hand.
Help us to remember we too are lovingly placed in this world to shine out your love in this generation.
Choose a Bible verse and have a go at memorising it this week. It could be Isaiah 40: 26 from the readings this week or you could pick any other verse that resonates with you.