It was exactly one year ago today that scientists announced that the population of the world had finally reached seven billion people. That’s a bunch of folks! I seem to remember, as a child in grammar school, that the population of the US was about 175 million and that the population of the world was around 3 billion. China had more than 1 billion alone… My, how we’ve grown since then…
It’s difficult to imagine that the population of the world continues to increase. Many countries have rules and regulations to limit procreation and in China, for example, parents can only have children to replace themselves and not increase the population. I used to work with a number of companies that hired employees in China and one of the biggest perks that can be offered to a new employee is the chance for the family to move to a large city, such as Beijing or Shanghai. Even if there is a delay for 50 years, the idea that an employee’s family could eventually move from the rural community to a city is one of the most noteworthy perks that can be offered. Almost just as important, but not quite, is the chance to study in the United States or to be taught by a US trainer coming over to China. Imagine a country where the cities are so crowded that you may have to wait 50 years to live there!
And China isn’t alone. Other countries have had increases as well. With the advances in agriculture, it would seem that we, as a global community, have the ability to feed all these people, but there is a disproportionate distribution of food around the world. And so people go to bed hungry every day. On top of that, there are places such as Haiti that have struggled with natural disasters and the Red Cross as well as other international non-profits have tried to assist with shipments of nutritional items and water. Sometimes, the corruption and ineffectiveness of delivery systems prevents help from getting to the places that need it most.
But way back in the beginning chapters of Genesis, when God called Abraham out to start his travel of obedience in accordance with God’s will, I’m sure that Abraham had no idea that God would so abundantly bless his family. After all, the Jewish people, the Arab people and Christians all came from Abraham. Never has another person been identified as the father of so many groups. When God made his covenant with Abraham, God entered into a unilateral agreement – which is recorded in Genesis 15. God told Abraham that his offspring would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. If you have ever looked up and tried to count the stars, it is impossible. And that’s the stars that we can see – not even considering those that are in other galaxies.
Later in the Bible, we are told that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sands on the seashore. Some people believe that the stars up above represent the Jewish nation and the the sands on the seashore represent the Christian nation. Needless to say, the number of grains of sand on all the beaches in the entire world is impossible to count. So, when taken in the context of the Abrahamic Covenant, it’s not surprising that our world population has topped seven billion. The descendants of Abraham don’t even include all the Buddhists, atheists and other people groups outside of those mentioned above.
Our verse for this evening is from God’s talk with Abraham in Genesis. We are told, in Gen. 15:4-5, “Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
My encouragement this evening is that God intends for the offspring of Abraham to eventually be too numerous to count. This means that God’s influence in the world will continue to grow. My prayer is that you will continue to do your part to make people aware of the goodness and love of God. After all, we still have a long way to go and you are part of the solution – the spreading of the Good News. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…