A (Brief) Theology of Sand

If you go to the beach this summer, I encourage you to consider for a moment, from a Biblical and theological perspective, the sand beneath your feet. What does sand have to do with Christian theology? Quite a lot, actually. When God wanted to illustrate for Abraham the immensity of His promise, he turned to two things the patriarch would have seen a lot of: stars and sand. “Indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore…” (Genesis 22:17). Later, in Genesis 32:12, God makes clear that his point in pointing out the sand is that it “is too great to be numbered.”

So Abraham’s offspring would be too great to be numbered. And certainly the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael, Abraham’s physical offspring, are innumerable (cf. Hebrews 11:12). But the New Testament teaches us that God wasn’t merely speaking of physical offspring. Rather, to be a true son of Abraham, one must have saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. “Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham…And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:7, 29). Where did Paul get this ideas? From the Lord Jesus, of course. When the Jews who refused to believe in and obey Jesus claimed to be the offspring of Abraham, Jesus asserted that they were actually children of their father the devil, murderers and liars just like him (John 8:38ff.). Thus Paul can write, “He is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God” (Romans 2:28-29).

So as you take that walk on the seashore this summer, over sand dry or wet, make sure to ask yourself, am I one of the grains of sand that make up that innumerable company of Abraham’s spiritual children? That is, do I have true faith in Jesus Christ? Or rather, to use that more dreadful imagery of sand in the Bible, is my life built upon sand – do I hear the words of Jesus and refuse to act upon them properly , and so my prospect is one great fall (Matthew 7:24ff.)?

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