Free will was given to man, who was created in the image and likeness of God, to act like God and decide on his choices. Added to this was the command to meet God daily at the designated place in the Garden to not only receive knowledge and wisdom but also to remain in a close relationship and dependence on God. Before man being created, everything that he required for a life of abundance was already available for him in the Garden of Eden. God does not desire that any of His children lack anything but in the fallen world limited resources force one to always suffer and desire more than what is given.
As planned, ‘God created man in His own image and likeness’ where the image of God is His external form while His likeness is the spiritual attributes or the moral qualities of God Genesis 1:26-27). Man became a living being only after God breathed into his nostrils and with that God put a part of Himself into man which glory was covered with ‘garments of skin’ after their disobedience.
But why did God place the forbidden tree in the Garden at all? – Before creating man, God had created every possible thing that he may need to live ‘the life of abundance’. God brought all the ‘beasts of the field and every bird of the air’ to Adam to ask him to name them and exercise authority over them (Genesis 2:19). Adam was given dominion over everything that was created on the earth and his destiny was in the blessing of God to rule the earth as God’s representative (Genesis 1:26-28). He was blessed to ‘Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it’ all the tasks that a ruler is supposed to perform to expand his inherited kingdom. God had declared everything good at every stage of creation and all was very good in its final stage. Adam was given the perfect setting to work from and God’s company was available everyday to give thanks to God and seek any guidance. Adam and Eve were required to live by faith in God but their sin was to attempt to live with the knowledge and wisdom gained with their own effort.
Cain’s killing of his brother Abel was a result of the same principle of dependence on God and not to offer Him the best from all that He has given (Genesis 4:8). This is the core of God’s purpose of creation that His glory must be revealed through all of His creation. ‘The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein’ (Psalm 24:1). In Psalm 19 King David witnesses all of creation singing God’s glory and offering worship of thankfulness to Him. Glory as derived from the Latin Gloria means ‘fame, renown’ is about the manifestation of God’s presence as perceived by humans. If we cannot imagine God’s glory or His traits and how He governs everything, how can we attempt to know, obey or do His will?
Right from the narrative of creation it is seen that God created mankind to reveal Himself to them to have a close relationship with them. God chose Abram and decided to ‘bless him’, make his name great and make him a blessing for in him ‘all families of the earth shall be blessed’ (Genesis 12:2-3). That became his destiny to possess all the land of Canaan while his descendents would be like ‘the dust of the earth’ beyond numbering (Genesis 13:13-17). Abraham believed God despite the fact that he had no child and his destiny was fulfilled since the Jews, the Ishmaelites and the Christians take him as their forefather. God finally commanded 99 years old Abram to ‘walk before Me and be blameless’ before changing his name and blessing him with a son, after a wait of 24 years (Genesis 17:1).
Dependence on God is about waiting for His time and in the meanwhile follow Lord Jesus’ command to be faithful in the little that He has given and thankfully use that for His Divine glory (Luke 16:10).
Reason of delay in receiving blessings – Apostle Peter fully understood God’s way after having been with God the Son to say, ‘that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as a day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise as some count slackness’ (2 Peter 3:8-9). The promise concerning redemption of mankind was made right at the time of sin but the Messiah was sent at the ‘right time’ when conditions were right for His message to reach beyond the Israelites even though the hearts of the leaders were still not ready to accept Him (Genesis 3:15). God created the right conditions for Moses to be brought up in Pharaoh’s house but when Moses killed an Egyptian to help a Hebrew slave he had to flee for his life and be in the wilderness forty years as a shepherd, preparing for his role of leading his people to freedom. Joshua was with Moses for forty years as his assistant before being appointed as leader by God. God promised to give the land of ‘seven nations greater and mightier than the Israelites but fulfillment of God’s promise was ‘little by little; you will be unable to destroy them at once, lest the beasts of the field become too numerous for you’ (Deuteronomy 7:22). God prepares us for the destined blessing lest we get overpowered by the blessing itself and are led astray.
Many a time we pray for something for which we are not prepared, like many ask for payment of debt that they have incurred through their reckless living. Until God sees a change in our heart answer to that prayer is not likely to come.
David was the youngest son of Jesse and anointed as king over Israel at the age of around 15 years but finally became king at 30 years of age (1 Samuel 16:12-13). But for the next 15 years, he had to fight a Goliath, hide from King Saul to save his life, live the life of a fugitive to be changed into ‘a man of God’s heart’ and become king over Israel. Prophet Jeremiah received word from God, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you’ and no birth is an accident for God can never be surprised by anything that anyone does (Jeremiah 1:5). From the burning bush God revealed His name to Moses as ‘I AM WHO I AM’ for He is God of the present and past and future is all open before Him (Exodus 3:14).
Jacob dreamed and saw the ladder going up to heaven and received God’s promise to be with him and to keep him wherever he went (Genesis 28:12-15). On being cheated by Laban, Jacob did not panic but accepted all the ‘speckled and spotted sheep, and all the brown ones among the lambs and speckled among the goats’ as his wages. He peeled almond and poplar branches exposing white in the branches and placed these in the troughs where flocks drank water and most of the lambs thereafter were born with speckles. Faith is to act on a revelation from God and Jacob acted in faith.
Scripture defines ‘Faith is the substance of things hoped for and evidence of things not seen’ (Hebrews 11:1). In this definition, first word is ‘upostasis’ meaning ‘substance or reality’, second, ‘episkazo’ meaning ‘expect, to hope’ and C.S. Lewis described this word as ‘shadow’ of the reality which is the spiritual world. The physical world is a shadow of the reality of the spiritual world. In Aramaic word for hope is ‘sabara’ meaning positive imagination and in Hebrew the word is ‘hagah’ meaning imagination. The third word is ‘elenchos/elegchos’ meaning ‘evidence’ which is ‘inner conviction’. To define faith Apostle Paul is saying here that ‘Faith is the reality of your positive imagination which gets manifested’. Jacob used God’s promise to imagine the striped rods as animals and God fulfilled that act of faith. God blessed the seventh day after ending His work but the work did not stop and God passed it on to man to use his imagination and continue the work of further creation (Genesis 2:3).
God may delay the answer to prepare us for the new life – The woman with 12 years of blood flow touched Lord Jesus’ garment and was healed (Luke 8:43-48). She imagined herself healed and the touch completed the cycle of faith for healing to manifest and her act made God’s will a reality in her situation. When our imagination is joined with Divine will and power, reality is created. The striped branches had no power as also the garment worn by the Lord but it was all their faith and positive imagination to bring what is in the spiritual realm into the physical. The word of God to the Israelites in Babylonian captivity was, ‘For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me and I will listen to you’ (Jeremiah 29:11-13). For calling upon God I must know Him and develop a relationship with Him.
Before a child is born God sets His plan of abundance in action and all that is available in the spiritual realm but for that to be converted into physical imaginative faith must be put into action. If I cannot imagine the changes in my life in answer to my prayers, how can I expect to receive it.
Satan may cause delay – Daniel fasted and prayed for three weeks and an angel came with the answer that God had heard his prayers on the first day that ‘you set your heart to understand and to humble yourself before your God’. But because Satan, called ‘the prince of the kingdom of Persia’ tried to stop the angel for twenty one days, Michael, ‘one of the chief princes’ or Archangel, came to help him bring the answer (Daniel 10:12-13). Answer to our prayers may be delayed due to an action of the devil and his forces and we must remain stead fast in prayer during the interim period howsoever long it may be
Our role in achieving our destiny – The story of creation is about lost opportunities after being led astray by the devil. The devil’s sole purpose is to destroy as many lives as possible through belief in his lies about personal capabilities and circumstances.
Apostle Paul quoted Deuteronomy 5:16, Honor your father and your mother ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth’ and he called this the first commandment with promise (Ephesians 6:2-3). The Hebrew word for honor is ‘kavod’ which also means glory or being weighty. Honoring goes beyond childhood to bearing their burdens in their old age. Kavod also means to be important and we are to recognize our parents’ importance showing them respects even if their actions towards us may have been sinful and wrong. Like God creates, parents also share in the process of creation by giving us birth and deserve our love. Disobedience to this command would result in an unsuccessful life with a short life span. After discussing Scriptures with the scholars in the Temple, Lord Jesus, aged twelve, went with His parents to Nazareth ‘and was subject to them. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men’ (Luke 2:51-52). If The Messiah needed to do this how much more should we!
Self dependence without God dependence – The Scripture command is, ‘Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight’ (Proverbs 3:5-6). Invariably we turn to God after all else fails.
Lack of faith –There are repeated assurances from God about helping us, ‘For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not I will help you’ (Isaiah 41:13). The Hebrew words used here depict God as a Father extending His hand towards His loved child to hold onto with assured help for success. But we want to run independent and invariably people also try other methods, as an insurance due to lack of faith.
Improper motives for success – We have the Son of God as the exact image of God that we must aspire to imitate in life. Lord Jesus promised to answer our prayers so ‘that the Father be glorified in the Son’ (John 14:13). Our motive for success must honor God and not to bring down someone else or self glory.
Aspiring for too little or too much – Lord Jesus has promised believers to ‘have life, and have it abundantly’ (John 10:10). The Greek word used is ‘perisson’ from ‘perisseuo’ meaning ‘superabundant or beyond excess’ or life at its best. But the way to this goes through the cross and self surrender. Also either we seek too little or beyond what we can handle without going astray and either way we fail.
Weak effort – Asking in faith with no doubt is essential ‘for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind’ (James 1:5-6). Apostle Peter was put in prison and the church was earnestly praying for him. When an angel of the Lord rescued him and he knocked on the door, the people gathered inside refused to believe and open the door believing it to be ‘his angel’ (Acts 12:5,15).
Sovereignty of God – God told Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion’ (Romans 9:15-16). It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. Job challenged God’s fairness but in answer God showed him His power exhibited in creation and we like Job are to trust Him. Whatever may be the answer to our prayers and efforts, in the end ‘all things work together for good of those that love God and are called according to His purpose’ (Romans 8:28). It is a calling for His Divine purpose and not some worldly desires that I may have. Moses cautioned the Israelites about being successful in their journey beyond Jordan river into the Promised Land with the words, ‘And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth’ (Deuteronomy 8:18). Apostle Paul also teaches to ‘give thanks (to God) in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus’ (1Thessalonians 5:18).
The disciples experience at the Transfiguration teaches us that no matter how powerful a spiritual experience is, the time comes to come down from the mountain and face the daily life situations. But if an experience like that does not change us, we do not understand the Lord’s teaching and like the deaf and mute boy’s father, continue to ask, ‘Lord, if You can do something, help me’. The Holy Spirit prays for us for He knows the ‘mind of God’. When we walk in obedience to His guidance and will, nothing can be impossible for us. But are we really willing and ready to do this!