Abraham had a reputation for being a friend of God. We see that illustrated in the stories about his life and decisions in Genesis, and James said outright in the New Testament, where he wrote, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness," and he was called God's friend. (James 2:23 NIV)
That may be hard to understand if you have the impression that God is way-way up there, and that He doesn't really care about puny mankind here on earth. That is false, however. God does care to an astonishing degree about everyone of us. (That degree, by the way, is to the full 100% as God never does anything less than perfect.) We see this in how he made Adam and Eve differently than all the other creatures, and how He sent His only Son to take our death sentence, and give us new and eternal life, and yes - even the right to walk into God's presence spiritually, through prayer, and talk with Him as good friends do, with honour and love.
When Abraham was still Abram in the land of Ur, God invited him to rise up and move to a better place He would show him. God promised him that He would make of him, Abram, a great and mighty nation, and through them bless everyone on earth. Abram and his wife, and nephew, and all his servants - a whole entourage - and started on this journey. When he got to the land of Canaan, God said, "this is the area I'm giving your future descendants," and Abram began to build altars to worship God and thank Him.
But that promise was not fulfilled for many years. God tested their faith with delays. We can follow the saga of their adventures and misadventures in Genesis chapters 12-25. Abram made some mistakes, such as when in Egypt he pretended that Sarai his wife was only his half-sister, when she really was both; the Pharaoh took her for his harem!
Then there was the time when he took a concubine, at his wife's urging, to hurry up God's plan for a son. But God didn't dump His relationship with Abram. Rather, He tested and disciplined him to bring him into line with His greater, better plan.
Abram and Lot both grew too wealthy to live close together, but Lot chose an evil area, and was captured in a local war, so Abram went out to rescue him and the other small kings and their people.
God made a detailed covenant with His friend, and changed his name to Abraham to indicate that he really would be the father of many, though he had not had a single child yet. It meant that Abraham had to learn to accept his Friend's promises by faith and live as if he believed Him.
There is also the interesting account of the Lord appearing as one of three angels making a visit to Abraham and Sarah's tents. They hurried to give these ordinary-looking men good hospitality, and in return the Lord confided some plans He had for Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham knew they deserved to be destroyed but Lot lived there, so he bargained with God to not destroy the cities if he found only a very few righteous people there. We learn how friends can intercede for other friends when they have good standing with the friend in power.
Abraham's friendship with God was unique, but perhaps a prototype of the kind of relationship we may have as well. Despite his faults (and we all have those), Abraham worshiped and trusted God as God. That trust went right to the point of blind obedience when God tested him by asking him to sacrifice his son Isaac to Him. It seemed so strange, considering that God had promised Abraham that many future descendants would come through Isaac. However, Abraham's devotion to his God was so complete that he was sure God could raise Isaac up from the dead again, if he were sacrificed.
I confess, I once felt sure I had a promise from God, but found it hard to lay that "Isaac" on the altar to show that I loved God more than the promise I had clutched to my heart. I've learned to hold God's gifts more loosely now. If He has power to give them, He should still have power to remove them, and to bring them back in a new and resurrected way IF they are truly from Him. If they are not, I am better off to let go of the false dream I thought was a promise from God.
It is experiences like that which really knit us closer to God in a pure and holy friendship, high above every other friendships we may have. Moreover, the things we learn about friendship from God can be applied to our other friendships with people. Things like loyalty and trust.
My novel, Ruthe's Secret Roses, and this related site have a Friendship theme. By getting to know and follow around the heroine, Ruthe, you can learn a lot about friendships, and that there is one that is the golden key to enriching all your other friendships and making them more satisfying. The site is more like a perfumed poupouri of articles and pages on that theme, and I've started a series on the friendships we observe in the Bible and what practical insights we can gain for our own friendships by thinking about them
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