Our opponents, few in number (keep in mind), posit that the human invention of the idea of potential infinity really exists. You can always count one more. Numbers never end. Knowledge increases forever. God’s elect increases forever. History never ends. Nor does evil. Even our thoughts are said to be “infinite” (never coming to the place of eternal rest).
How does the Bible treat this? Well, lets look at the term “stars.” Genesis 1.16 says, clearly enough, “He also made the stars.” No doubt that our shared experience of the author of Genesis, and the shared experience of the readers throughout the generations, meant to convey those shining things we see up there in the night sky. The definitions may have changed, but we are still talking about those shining things up there in the sky (“And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven…” Dt 4.19). Whatever they “actually” are, the Bible calls them “stars.” The people of God are compared to “stars”. “I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven” (Gn 22.17). This is repeated several times. In fact, it came true: “The LORD your God has multiplied you, and behold, you are today as numerous as the stars of heaven” (Dt 1.10). So far, I cannot be accussed as not “providing exegesis”. Of course, the Covenant Creationists may make “stars” in these passages refer exclusively to “covenant people” – but that shouldn’t concern us here. We are on safe ground here in assuming that “stars” means, well, “stars”. What I want to call attention to is the phrase, “as numerous”.
“He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names” (Ps 147.4). Interesting. We have pointed out this verse before in previous papers on infinity, but the critics gave no answer to it. They just continued to say, “Sam gives no exegesis for his reasoning”. “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them” (Gn 15.5). Fact is, we are not “able” to “number them”. Too many. They appear to us to have no end. It is extremely difficult for us to imagine space as finite. It is extremely hard, if no downright impossible, to imagine space as having a curved edge – for what lies beyond that curve? See, there is always one more, something else that can be added, another dimension, and another, and another ad infinitum. Yet, we are told in the Bible that God is omnipresent. There is no “outside” of God. He “fills all things”. God does not “occupy” space. Space is a creation of God. The question, “so where was God before he made anything” implies our own stupidity, for the term “where” does not apply to God. That’s a term of “space”. God was, in the words of Augustine, simply “being God.”
But, let’s look at this: Abraham was not able to count the stars. They appeared countless. Infinite. But, God not only counts them, he names them! Therefore, they are not infinite, they are not innumerable. They are all known. Finite in number.
Now, God’s people are equated with (simile) the number of the stars, and we are told several times that God has promised to make Abraham’s seed as numerous as the stars. In fact, after the Exodus, the number of Israel is equated with the number of the stars. God made good. But, surely no one would suggest that Israel was, after the exodus, infinite in number!
We know, too, from the new covenant that the Abrahamic promise to increase the People of God would come in the days of salvation. Jeremiah, speaking of the time of the new covenant, prophesied: “As the host of heaven cannot be numbered and the sands of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the offspring of David my servant, and the Levitical priests who minister to me” (33.22). The new covenant people of God, like the old covenant people of God, are promised to be as numerous as the stars in the heavens. We have proven, from the Bible, that “numerous as the stars” applied to Israel after the Exodus. Israel was as numerous as the stars. Yet, we know that this was not an infinite number. It was a finite number. So, we are entirely right, exegetical and biblical to insist that the new covenant people of God are to be as numerous as the stars as well, a finite number, known, and determined as each star is known, finite, and determined. The Bible, then, unquestionably teaches a limited number of God’s people (interestingly, Nahum said of Ninevah’s riches, “You increased your merchants more than the stars of the heavens” (3.16)).
In Revelation the churches are referred to as “stars”. This is a covenantal term going back to Abraham and Moses (and David’s covenant according to Jer 33.22). If God’s people are likened to be in number as numerous as the stars, and if the stars are each known and finite in number, then it logically follows that God’s people are finite in number. It is of strict logical and exegetical deduction.
Full Preterists, however, do not want to accept this conclusion. For, that would mean an end to history. How? Well, people make history. A continuation of history would, therefore, mean a continuation of procreation. Without making people, people cannot make history. History ends. Logical conclusion.
So, no more of this nonsense that Sam provides no exegetical reasoning for an end of history. No more of this false claim that the Bible is “silent” on such matters. It is not silent. God knows the first generation and he knows the last generation. He knows from beginning to end. He knows the beginning of time, and the end of time (for time does not define eternity since time was created. Eternity existed before time. God is Eternity – the being of eternality). Therefore, though the Bible does indeed concentrate more on the “time of the end” rather than the “end of time”, it nonetheless can be demonstrated that an end of time will, in fact, happen. The Bible only mentions the Rechabites a few times, over and against the Levites, but who would insist that the Bible nowhere speaks of the Rechabites because they are only mentioned five times? How many times is Nimrod mentioned? Pointless argument.
Thus, let those who insist on the monstrous error (with devastating and absurd results for biblical theology) of the reality of potential infinity. Let them insist and teach, without any foundation whatsoever, that sin, evil, war and every other form of corruption will never end. Let them insist on the ludicrous idea, which I ashamedly once held, that procreation is infinite, that the number of God’s people is literally infinite. They won’t get far…..the Church is smarter than that.
I have said my peace.