Way back in Genesis, God promised Abraham as many descendants as stars in the sky. And now in Deuteronomy, it looks like he came through on his word:
The Lord your God has multiplied you, so that today you are as numerous as the stars of heaven. (1:10)
Throughout Israelite history, this promise seemed to be in jeopardy—we're talking conflicts with other tribes, famines, and slavery. But with God's help, the Israelites survived all of these brutal trials. Actually, they did more than survive; they prospered. To give you an idea of how much the nation has grown, Deuteronomy gives us a refresher:
Your ancestors went down to Egypt seventy persons; and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in heaven. (10:22)
For so long, the tribe has been in the survival business, but now they're about to go into the business of conquering and governing. But don't get too excited, because it works the other way, too. The Israelites are going to screw up again and this time,
Although once you were as numerous as the stars in heaven, you shall be left few in number, because you did not obey the Lord your God. (28:62).
What Does It All Mean?
So stars = big numbers. Got it. But what else to do stars make us think of?
- Something incalculable or unfathomable. We can't even begin to imagine how big the sky is, just like we can't even begin to understand God.
- God's power. Imagine counting all the starts in the sky. Impossible, right? Not for God.
- The relationship between God and humans. God is making this otherworldly promise (they didn't have telescopes back then), but the results will be absolutely human: more people and more land.
Why else do stars work as a symbol in Deuteronomy?