Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Genesis. Tonight, is study #10 of Genesis, chapter 13 and we are going to be reading Genesis 13:15-18:
For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee. Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto JEHOVAH.
Going back to verse 15, it said in Genesis 13:15-16:
For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth…
God makes a reference to Abram’s seed. We have discussed this a few times, but it is always good to be reminded because we are very forgetful hearers. It says in Galatians 3:16:
Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
This means that, in the first instance, Jesus is the “seed,” but a little further on in the same chapter it says in Galatians 3:29:
And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
This means that Christ is the “seed,” singular, and the body of Christ (those Christ saved by paying for their sins) are counted for the “seed” in Him, so both are in view when we read of these promises of God to Abram – it is a promise to you and to me, if we are in Him.
Again, the word “land” can be translated as “earth,” so it could say, “For all the earth which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.” The eternal nature of the promise reveals to us that this “earth” must be referring to the new earth that will be created when this present earth is destroyed. That is the only way it can harmonize with everything else in the Bible. We have a promise of this future inheritance because we are heirs of Christ.
It goes on to say in Genesis 13:16:
And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.
This is an interesting analogy or illustration the Lord gives us. He likens the “seed,” which we saw is defined by the Bible as Christ and all those that are saved in Him, to “the dust of the earth.” Of course, part of this has to do with the greatness of this number, as it says in the next part of this verse: “so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.” There are similar illustrations in the Bible where God speaks of these numbers as the stars of the heaven for multitude or as the sand of the seashore. These illustrations are very helpful because we are all familiar with sand and stars and the dust of the ground; we know that these things cannot be numbered. There are so many stars that no one has ever numbered them, nor could they, because the estimates are astronomical. Of course, there are not enough people that could ever have been born that could number as the stars of heaven or as grains of sand or as dust of the ground. Anyone could go to a vacant lot where there is just dirt and you could pick up a handful of dirt and that would be an incredible number of specks of dirt or of dust. And that is only one vacant lot in a very big world, so, obviously, God does not mean it literally when He says that the “seed” of Abram (those He will save) will be as numerous as the dust of the earth or as the stars of heaven. Let me read that reference to stars in Genesis 15:5:
And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
No one can count the number of the stars. We cannot number the dust of the earth. That is one of the points God is making in Genesis 13, verse 16. The dust of the earth cannot be numbered and neither can the elect of God be numbered (the seed of Abram). On the other hand, we do know that God tells us in Revelation 7:9:
After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
Since these people are “clothed with white robes,” which identify with the righteousness of saints in other places, these are God’s elect or people God has saved. They cannot be numbered and no man could number them because there is no ability for man to number them. These are the ones that were said to have come out of great tribulation and that is why we say that God saved a great multitude during that little season of the Great Tribulation. We do not say how many He saved because we do not know, but all we know is that it was a great multitude. It could have been scores of millions. We do know that the Bible tells us in Revelation, chapter 9 of a great number that were loosed from the river Euphrates (a figure of speech to refer to spiritual Babylon). It says in Revelation 9:16:
And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.
That “two hundred thousand thousand” is two hundred million horsemen and the horsemen are a figure of the same people of Revelation 19:14:
And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
Notice that their clothing matches the description of the great multitude in white robes in Revelation, chapter 7. That is because they are the children of God that were made righteous by the obedience of One, the Lord Jesus. The army of the horsemen is describing the elect of God. The figure of two hundred million is likely telling us the complete number of the elect that Christ named and died for at the foundation of the world, saving them through His atoning work. This would be the total of everyone that would be saved, beginning with Abel to Zacharias (all the way to the end) through May 21, 2011 when God completed His salvation program.
Some people might bring up the point that we just read that we cannot number the seed because they are as the dust of the ground for multitude that cannot be numbered. They might say, “You cannot count the number of stars. You cannot count the dust of the earth and, therefore, you cannot number them.” That is correct and true. I cannot number them and you cannot number them and neither can any man, but God can number them. God is the one that saved them and Christ bore the sins of each of His elect personally, so He has full knowledge of every one of them. God, as the Author of the Bible, is the One that is revealing the number of “two hundred million” in Revelation 9, verse 16, and that number is not coming from a man. That number is not coming from church estimates of the rolls of their congregations. That number is not arrived at based on census takers that ask the question, “What religion are you?” There are about two billion people in the world that profess to be Christian and that is man’s attempt to number them, but man will miserably fail because man cannot know the heart of the individual and which one is a true child of God. It is impossible, so no man can number the great multitude that were saved during the second part of the Great Tribulation and no man can number all that were saved throughout history, but God can certainly know the number. I am not saying this dogmatically that the “two hundred million” is a literal number, but it appears to be that way, especially since the number “two hundred million” breaks down to multiples of the number “two,” which identifies with the caretakers of the Word of God, and the number “ten,” which identifies with completeness. I did not break it down to see how many “tens” there would be, but, obviously, there would be a tremendous emphasis upon the number “10,” which represents completeness; in this case, it would be the completeness of those that are caretakers of the oracles of the Word of God (the elect). So, we have here a number given to us by God that could very well be the actual number of everyone saved.
Let us go back to Genesis 13:16:
And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.
The second part of the verse deals with the impossibility for man to number them and we already talked about that and how it is likely that God did number them. But, what about the statement that says, “And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth”? The dust of the earth is language that leads us back to the beginning and the original creation of man. Let us go to Genesis 2:7:
And JEHOVAH God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
Since God created man from the dust, we can see that God created a creature in His own image from the dust of the ground, so all human beings were created from the dust. And that is where we are headed to because it says in Genesis 3:19:
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
This is a fact for every human being born into the world, except for a couple of individuals that were translated, like Enoch and Elijah, who never physically died and went into the ground. For the rest of us, yes, we were conceived in our mother’s womb and then born, but all of us can be traced back to Adam and Adam came from the dust of the ground. When we analyze what makes up our physical bodies, we find the same elements that are found in the ground. When we say that we are “eating healthy,” we are eating vegetables and things that come from the ground because it fits our physical nature. To have iron and other minerals and vitamins that come from the ground is appropriate because we ourselves are creatures that came from the dust of the ground. There is that aspect to our physical nature – we were dust originally and we are going to return to dust. We are going to die. That is what is in view when it says, “for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” We will die and over time the corruption our bodies will experience will “return to dust.” For example, consider the bodies of individuals that died thousands of years ago, and where are they? Unless they were mummified, most of them have returned to the dust of the earth. They have been broken down by time and they have gone right back into the ground. That is the vanity of life in this world and the temporal nature of things. Life is so short. It is one of the reasons that the ungodly see their lives as being “purposeless.” They see themselves as any creature that comes from the ground and goes to the ground. Of course, the true believers see the far greater purpose and significance of being a human being created in the image of God. It is amazing that God took a creature made of dust and made him in His own likeness and image, but He did. But mankind defiled that image by sinning against God and, yet, God had a plan of redemption to make us new creatures, as it says in 2Corinthians 5:17:
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
This is where it gets interesting because we saw that God said He would make “thy seed as the dust of the ground.” And, again, the “seed” is very specific. It is not referring to the unsaved people of the world that die and return to dust, but this is referring exclusively to all the elect that are in Christ and whom God has saved. This elect seed will be made as the dust. Why does God say that? To return to dust has the implication of dying. For instance, it says something related to this in Psalm 22, which is a Messianic Psalm referring to Christ suffering under the wrath of God. It says in Psalm 22:15:
My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
It refers to “the dust of death,” and that is even more straightforward than saying that man shall return to the dust. This links “death” with “dust.”
It says in 1Samuel 2:6-8:
JEHOVAH maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory…
Here, once again, we see that God is speaking of dying and of resurrection. When someone goes down to the grave and is brought up, that is a resurrection. In a synonymous statement, it says in verse 8: “He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill.” The “poor” are a figure to point to those God has saved. Typically, we are referred to as poor, widows or orphans and God raises up the poor; that is, He resurrects the elect or those He has saved. Where does He resurrect them from? It says, “He raiseth up the poor out of the dust.” All the elect that have died in past generations have gone to the grave and, if given enough time, their bodies have returned to the dust. But that is not the end of the story for them. There is going to come the day of resurrection of raising up the “poor.” The elect people will be brought up out of the dust, as we read in Genesis 13:16: “And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth.” Yet, not all of God’s people have died physically. There is the great multitude that God saved that are presently alive and living on the earth. What about them? We know the Bible speaks of a rapture as well as a resurrection. As far as there being a rapture, that applies to the people that did not physically die before the last day. How can it be that these will come up out of the dust? We will try to answer that when we get together in our next Bible study.