Whereby shall I know?

Genesis 15:8 expresses the question that Abram posed to God, when God told him that he would give to Abram, the land where he was. Abram asked “Whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?”

Interestingly the phrase “Whereby shall I know” is mentioned ad verbatim only twice in the King James Version of the Holy Bible. The first time, it is used in this context of Abram questioning God and the second time it is mentioned, it is in the context of the announcement of John the Baptist’s birth. Zacharias (the father of John the Baptist) questions angel Gabriel, about the possibility of such a birth, for he did not believe the words of the angel (Luke 1:20), as he mentions that he and his wife were old (Luke 1:18;13-20). Zacharias questioned “Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.” The angel tells Zacharias that he would be not be able to speak until the time when the prophecy of John’s birth is fulfilled.

Now let us go back to Abram. Abram asks the same question, “Whereby shall I know” to the Lord himself and yet does not face any consequence such as Zacharias. Why is that so? Closely scrutiny reveals a couple of hidden treasures in this account. First, Abram did not disbelieve God. If you see his words that follow the question … which reads “I shall inherit it”, we can see faith expressed in words – words of assurance that what God was promising Abram, was going to come to pass, in due course of time. Second, Abram did not focus on his own self unlike Zacharias, who saw his old age, as an impediment to God, fulfilling his prophecies.

Points to ponder:
What God wants from us is for us to simply and only believe. When we question God of his plans for our life, let us not question him with disbelief in our hearts, but rather let us do so with assurance that what he says shall come to pass. Also, we in our fragile nature and self can add nothing to God’s Sovereignty. What God says will come to pass. When we look at ourselves and our abilities, we may end up questioning God with disbelief, and may face unintended consequences. Let us instead look at God and his Sovereignty, which would make us question God with the right attitude in our heart – the heart of belief. Next time, you ask God, “Whereby shall I know?”, take a moment to pause and ponder – are you asking with belief or doubt?, – who are you looking at, when you are asking this question – God or youself? Whereby shall I know for it shall be! 

Genesis 15:8 (KJV)
And he said, Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?

Luke 1:18 (KJV)
18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.