I’ve enjoyed reading the Jan. Message. However, I feel the article on polygamy was incomplete. Perhaps these points are not pertinent, but don’t you suppose God might have allowed polygamy in order to increase His people and populate the earth?
1) In Genesis 17:2 (NIV) God says to Abraham “…I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”
2) When the angel told Hagar God would make Ishmael “into a great nation” (Gen. 21:18) was this not to increase the world’s population?
However, it would seem too much to say polygamy was allowed for the purpose of increasing the world’s population. Whatever happened to the population of the small nation of Israel had little effect upon the world at large.
God did want to increase the numbers of His chosen nation, for larger numbers reflected greater strength and influence; hence the numbering of the tribes on several occasions. Did God allow polygamy in order to affect such growth? It may have been a factor for a time; we are not told directly.
What about these promises to Abram, Sarai and Hagar? The prophecies of Abraham are broad in scope and in studying prophecies of the Bible, it must be remembered that many have both a short-term and a long-term application; or in other words, two fulfillments. The prophecy of Gen. 17:2 informed Abraham that he would be both “a father of many nations” and of “kings.”
This has partial fulfillment in the birth of Ishmael, who represents those greater in number and lower in rank or “many nations” and in Isaac, who represents those fewer in number and higher in rank, or “kings.” Promises repeated to Sarai and Hagar confirm this arrangement of seeds. Additional, short-term fulfillment came when Ishmael fathered 12 princes who multiplied into a large nation, the Midianites. (see Gen. 25:9-17; 37:25-28).
And in the long term? The greatest reference of the prophecies is to the far future when the whole earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord, and we all shall know the Lord from the least to the greatest (Num. 14:21; Jer. 31:34). In the long-term, Isaac and Ishmael represent the two classes which will be part of God’s eternal Kingdom. The point is reinforced by many statements which were not fulfilled during Abraham’s time and which have not yet been fulfilled. For example, Abraham has yet to have “all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession” (Gen. 17:8). Additionally, the promise that in Abraham’s “seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed,” (Gen. 22:18) has yet to be fulfilled.
The picture of the future, as projected in the Bible, is bright with promise and hope for a righteous, happy, and prosperous people worldwide, when the earth is filled with the glory of God.
Starting in Genesis with the command to “Be fruitful, and multiply” (Gen. 1:28) the promises and prophecies of God’s eternal Kingdom have been passed down from generation to generation and age to age. When the time arrives, Abraham’s children “shall not be few… and they shall not be small…and they shall be [God’s] people and [He] will be your God” (Jer. 30:19, 22). Then, “the land shall be an everlasting possession” (Gen. 48: 4) and God “will set [His] sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore” (Ezek. 37:26). (see also Gen 15:5; 22:17; 26:4; 35:11; Isa. 49:20; 44:3-5).
What a glorious Day to anticipate!