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Daily Devotional

January 13

LOOK TOWARD HEAVEN AND NUMBER THE STARS

by Henry T. Vriesen

Genesis 15–16

After Abram had come back to Mamre, the Lord spoke to him one day and said, “Fear not, Abram, I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward.” God had blessed Abram abundantly. He had many servants, a large household, large herds and flocks; he had the promise that in his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed. He replied, “O Lord, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless?” And behold the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Look now toward heaven and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them;” and He added, “So shall thy seed be.” He was not able to count the stars. He understood that God was speaking of the people that someday should possess the land of Canaan, for they should be his descendants.

Abram did not see how this promise of God could be fulfilled; but he believed his word and did not doubt it. And the Lord counted it to him for righteousness. God also told Abram that there would be a time when his descendants would be slaves in a strange land and would live! there for four hundred years. After that they would again return to Canaan to possess the land. “In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.”

When Abram and Sarai had lived ten years in Canaan, the promise of God had not yet been fulfilled. They had no children. Now Sarai had an Egyptian handmaid whose name was Hagar. Sarai suggested to Abram to take her as his second wife. He should have said, “It is not right,” but he followed her advice. One day Sarai and Hagar disagreed, and the latter left the tent. It seems she intended to return to Egypt. As she hastened along the sandy desert road, she came to a fountain of water. There the angel of the Lord found her and said to her, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence earnest thou? and whither wilt thou go?” Hagar replied, “I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.” And the angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands … I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. And thou shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction. And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.” And Hagar called the name of the Lord that spoke to her, “Thou God seest me,” for she said, “Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?” Wherefore the well was called Beer-la-hai-roi (meaning, A well of the Living One who seeth me). So Hagar returned to her tent, and God gave her a son, as the angel of the Lord had said. Abram named him Ishmael.

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