15 ¶ And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, 16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: 17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; 18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. 19 So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.
Christ, the visible image of the invisible God, the angel of the Lord, the one of the three parts of God by which all things were created, makes a promise to Abraham. (see comments on chapter 1, verse 3, for the Biblical explanation of who Christ is.) In the promise He makes a statement of equivalence between the amount of sand on the sea shore and the number of stars in the heavens. Although we can never know this number in this life scientists do approximate that there is a similar number of both although many insist that there are more stars in the heavens than sand. In any event, the point of this is not to engage in a scientific statement but to underscore the concept of a lot of or very many. This is done in other places to signify a large amount.
Deuteronomy 28:62 And ye shall be left few in number, whereas ye were as the stars of heaven for multitude; because thou wouldest not obey the voice of the LORD thy God.
But if you insist that this does refer to an exact number then you must also consider that in eternity the Jews, who will inherit the physical earth while followers in Christ from the church age will abide in the New Jerusalem, will reproduce fully populating from their scant ten million roughly today on the earth to perhaps the entire universe as Rebekah’s brother and mother prophesied a number in the billions for them eventually. The following is more of a specific kind of number.
Genesis 24:60 And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them.
As explained before in 19:1-3 comments the gate is the place of judgment in a city. It is a place of authority and the Hebrews here are promised much victory.
Because Abraham obeyed God the entire earth is blessed and all men will have the opportunity to be reconciled to God. Our amnesty in the rebellion begun by Adam against the King of all existence is again ensured. This promise is referred to in several places which I recommend you read, paying attention to the context. See Genesis 12:3; 18:18; 26:4; Acts 3:25; Galatians 3:8,9.
Paul makes the argument that this promise, as with the land grant, comes directly through Christ and eventually to Christ in Galatians 3. This is how the Jews will inherit the land they were promised, through Christ, and this is how all believers will inherit eternal life, through Christ.
First, Paul compares Abraham believing God, the foundation of his salvation, with our believing Christ, who is God, the foundation of our salvation along with believing in His resurrection as stated in Romans 10, starting in verse 9.
We believe what Christ said about Himself. First, to define what believe on means as believing what Christ said;
John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
Acts 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
Now, see how Paul uses Abraham’s belief, though like ours, imperfect, to begin his argument. Note in verse 9 that to be faithful is to be full of faith and constant to it and is not about how often you darken the church’s doors.
Galatians 3:6 ¶ Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. 7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. 8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. 9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. 10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. 11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. 12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. 13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. 15 Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. 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. 17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. 18 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
So, that Jew and Gentile can be reconciled to God by this promise through Christ and that the Jews receive their promise of land in eternity through Christ’s acquisition of it Himself physically. As the angel of the Lord, Christ, made the promises so do they find their fulfillment in Him.
Remember, the Bible is the record of God’s efforts at reconciling man to Himself. This is the alternative to just letting all mankind share a fate worse than simply ceasing to exist, an eternity of agony and judgment in a lake of unquenchable fire for our souls. We can honor Abraham, in his obedience, for being part of God’s plan for our reconciliation to Him. But, we give all the glory to God who made our reconciliation possible, sure, and complete; for without His grace, His unmerited favor, we would be lost.