Have you ever measured out a cup of sand and tried to count the grains? It might take a while. According to some highly unscientific research I did on the internet, depending on the size of the grain, the number of grains of sand that fit into one cup is anywhere between 2 and 15 million. Wow! Millions of grains of sand in just a single cup. Now imagine how many cups of sand there are in a desert. We can’t even count that high!
That’s why I love God’s statement to Abram in Genesis 13:16—"I will give you more descendants than there are specks of dust on the earth, and someday it will be easier to count the specks of dust than to count your descendants." What’s incredible, even funny, about this is that, at the time God said this, Abram was standing in the middle of a desert.
The beginning of the chapter says, "Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev." The Negev was a desert, so when God told Abram that his descendants were going to far outnumber the specks of dust on the earth, Abram was looking at mounds and mounds of sand. For Abram, it must have seemed impossible. After the Flood, people had started having children earlier and earlier, but here was Abram, an old man, with not a single child. And God was saying that his descendants would outnumber the grains of sand in a desert!
God is a big thinker. He is always seeing bigger than we are. He is always thinking bigger than we are. He is capable of imagining much more than we can ever dream of. For Abram, one child would have been a welcome blessing. But God’s thoughts are never in the track of "just enough to get by." No, His thoughts run more toward "outrageous excess." In a culture where so much importance was placed on heirs, only God would promise more descendants than you could count!