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.

Knowledge of good and evil – a test of …

Genesis 2:9 states that in the garden of Eden, God made to grow, the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Now, many have questioned “Why did God place the tree of knowledge of good and evil and place man in the same garden in the east (Eden) and then explicitly forbid him from eating of that tree?” The usual response that is given is the answer of “free will” explaining that “God is not a puppeteer and did not want his prized creation (man) to be a puppet (or in today’s language – a robot) but gave him free will to choose.” I do not disagree with this notion for even Jesus, being God himself (Philippians 2:6),  had to choose willingly (freely) to submit to God’s will (john 10:18; Luke 22:42), and man who is created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27) should have the nature of God.

But is there more we can learn from the scripture?
Close scrutiny of God’s infallible word reveals a few other things of note:

1. The placement of the tree of knowledge of good and evil was a test – a test of God’s authority. God is sovereign and he does what pleases him in heaven and in earth (Psalm 115:3), and while it is not wrong to question God with a genuine seeking heart (as Mary, the handmaid of the Lord, did and believed  – Luke 1:24, 38), questioning him with doubt/disbelief (as Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist did – Luke 1:18) and/or defiance (as did some scribes against God’s authority – Mark 2:1-12) displeases him and can have consequences. Questioning God with the wrong attitude of disbelief, in an attempt to make him dumb (as if he cannot give an answer) can in turn backfire and make us dumb (Luke 1:20). It is our disbelief that makes us dumb. God is Sovereign and we are not.
2. The placement of the tree of knowledge of good and evil was a test – a test of man’s love for God. Adam (and Eve), had been given, ALL the other trees of the garden to eat from. In fact, every other tree that God made to grow out of the ground was beautiful (pleasing to the eye) and good for food, and still Adam (and Eve) wanted more – more than what God had given him (just as we do many times). Jesus said, if you love me, [you will] keep (obey) my commandments (John 14:15). True Love cannot be forced and is a choice – we choose to love someone or we choose not to. True Love is expressed in action – by doing what pleases the one we love; their will not ours.

Points to ponder:
The first Adam was made in the likeness of God with the ability to choose for himself. He chose to not love God more than himself. He chose to disobey and he chose for himself.
The last Adam (Jesus Christ), who being God, had the ability to choose for himself.  He chose to Love God the Father. He chose to obey and he chose you over himself.
Have you/I submitted to God’s authority and accepted his sovereignty?
Do you love God? Do I love God? Do we Truly Love God?
Let us not fail this test of Love!

Genesis 2:9 (KJV)
And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

John 14:15 (KJV)
15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.