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Walking with understanding
- Jacob Ninan
When Satan began his attack on Eve, he questioned her whether God had actually forbidden eating from any tree in the garden. He knew God had only forbidden the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but he put it as 'any tree' in order to confuse Eve. Eve's reply was that God had only forbidden eating from the tree which was in the middle of the garden (Ge.3:3). Why would Eve say 'the tree which is in the middle of the garden' and not 'the tree of knowledge of good and evil'? We do not know it exactly. But perhaps if Eve had thought earlier about the implications of the term 'tree of knowledge of good and evil' instead of thinking of the tree as just some tree in the middle of the garden, she would have been better equipped to deal with this temptation. As it was, she may have considered God's commandment as an arbitrary commandment without any meaning, and not seen the importance of obeying Him here.
What do we think of God's commandments to us today? Perhaps we think of Jesus' instruction for believers to get baptised as just one of those rituals which do not have much relevance. Perhaps we put the 'holy communion' in the same category. Or that is the vague way we think about being a member of the church. What about not getting married to unbelievers? Are the commandments and instructions which God has given to us in the Bible vague like some 'tree in the middle of the garden'?
If we have not taken time to think about, ask questions and understand what God wants us to do, the chances are that what God says does not mean much to us. In that case it would not be difficult for us to think in times of temptation that something else is more relevant or expedient.
After God gave the Law to the people of Israel, they told Moses, "Go near and hear all that the Lord our God says; then speak to us all that the Lord our God speaks to you, and we will hear and do it" (De.5:27). God's response was, "Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!" (v.29). God's desire is that His people would respect His word and keep it all their life. As we do that, His blessings will increase over our lives.
In the Old Testament, people could not go directly to God to hear Him speaking. They needed someone like Moses to do that and then pass on the message to them. Even now, under the New Testament where the least of us can know God directly as our Father (He.8:11) and be in His presence all the time, some of us still do not make the effort to listen to God directly but depend on pastors to tell us what God wants. Is it any wonder if we remain without real understanding of what is in God's heart and the commandment looks like 'not to eat from the tree in the middle of the garden'?
Shall we meditate on God's word and get understanding on it? Let's get to know not only what God wants but also why He wants it.