My grandfather on my dad’s side was about 6′ 3″ (1.9m) – which is where I get my height. He was a State Representative, business owner, and while most people knew him as one or both of those, I only knew him as my grandfather who had amazing woodworking talents.
When I was a teenager I was at a store, and the clerk at the register, an older woman, recognized my family name. She said she knew my grandfather and she told me about him as a State Representative; “When a person saw your grandfather walking down the street, he had such a look about him you knew you could trust him and whatever he was working on in the Legislature would be good for us and our community.”
Why she felt that way I don’t know, but her statement was a window into another part of him I hadn’t known. I remember a toy chest he made for me, of wood and painted metal, made to look like a pirate’s treasure chest with a painting of pirate Long John Silver on the top - my name being John. It was amazing, and I wish I had valued it enough to have that chest today. My grandfather died unexpectedly when I was 7 1/2, and though he lived about 60 years, I only have memories of him during maybe 2 years of my young life.
What God told Isaac
We know Abraham because of several chapters in Genesis and references to him in the New Testament. Abraham lived 175 years, but most of what we know are brief events that happened to him between age 75 and 100. We think we know him based on those slivers of information, but Abraham holds another distinction that gives us insight into how the Lord viewed him that hints at a far greater relationship with God:
He is the only person of the Old Testament called ‘the friend of God’. (Isaiah 41:8, where God directly calls him ‘my friend’, and James 2:23 where he quotes Isaiah) Let that sink in for a moment. Neither Adam, Enoch, Noah, Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon, Elijah or any other are called God’s friend. Only Abraham. They had something special and the brief view in Genesis of their relationship doesn’t tell the whole story.
We get a deeper glimpse about their friendship because the Lord does something He doesn’t do with anyone else in the Old Testament – He tells Abraham’s son about the traits of his father that He liked about him.
Even when the Lord appears to Solomon twice, in I Kings 3:3-15 and 9:1-9, He only mentions Solomon’s father David in 9:4, stating he walked in uprightness and integrity of heart. For no other man nor woman did the Lord talk to their child about what a great person their dad was – only to Isaac about Abraham.
Genesis 26:5 (to Isaac)
“Because Abraham obeyed my voice, kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”
A definition of ‘friend’ is: Mutual affection between 2 people, a person one knows, likes, and trusts. Friendship is heart to heart, not performance based. Abraham was God’s friend. Wow.
Most Christians know God based on 2 of the 5 words I’ve underlined above: The first mentioned is voice, the word used here means ‘to call aloud’, and the last mentioned is ‘laws‘, which is torah, or ‘the word’.
Upon these 2 things most Christian’s lives depend – they want to hear God’s voice and know His word. But there are 3 other things the Lord mentions which are the qualities of friendship. If all you know of God is the voice and word, you are like me knowing only a small part of my grandfather and his life. But Abraham knew God beyond just voice and word – they were friends.
In the middle of this sandwich where the Lord starts with voice and ends with His word, we have the meat of the relationship: Charge, commandments, and statutes.
Charge – mishmereth – to watch, stand as a sentry, observe. To watch out for each other.
Commandments – mitsvah – command. The root word is personal; to appoint, to join. Purposefully joined.
Statutes – chuqqah – keep an appointment, to know one’s mannerisms.
Look at these 5 elements of a friendship in the order the Lord listed them to Isaac: Abraham obeyed when I called him, he acted as a sentry for things that pertain to Me, he received my appointments by joining Me, he kept our appointments and knew my manners, and obeyed my word to him.
That sounds like a friendship – friends know each other’s voice, they make appointments with one another, they protect and watch out for each other, each knows the mannerisms of the other, and they keep their word with one another.
Jesus is looking for friends
Knowing that first century Jews knew full and well that God called Abraham His friend in Isaiah 41:8, and with the disciples certainly knowing Jesus was God’s Son whom they had lived with for over 3 years, when Jesus said during the Last Supper in John 15:15: “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant doesn’t know what the Master is doing. But I call you friends, because everything I’ve heard from my Father, I’ve made known to you.”
When I read that verse I see the same qualities of a group of men hanging out with God in the flesh for years, who became friends with the Lord, as I do in Abraham and the Lord’s friendship.
If you asked Average Christian what would make a person a friend of God, they would probably say go to church a lot, or pray a lot – performance based – doing something they think God wants and is pleased with.
But Jesus, having lived with these men for over 3 years, men who obeyed His voice, who learned and hung on His every word, lived those middle 3 things that God had with Abraham – they joined themselves to the life of Jesus, stood sentry and observed Him in all things, knew His mannerisms, voice, and word.
Children and friends
As Jesus called the disciples His friends before the cross in John 15:15, after the cross the New Testament also calls us the children of God. No longer servants, we are children of God, and can enter into an adult relationship with God as friends.
We can be God’s friend, but it is more than merely hearing His voice and keeping His word. It involves those middle 3 parts of the sandwich; Think of the Father as a friend and treat Him like one, and He will respond.
Just talk to Him, invite Him to be involved in your routine - look for things to be thankful for – something in nature a few times a day, good timing during your day, and the opportunity to grow when difficulties arise. Always make everything an opportunity to turn your thoughts to Him and ask His opinion, ask His thoughts on a matter, or a quick word of thanks when you see grace in your life. Being a friend of God; there is nothing like it in this world!
Just some random thoughts…being a friend of God.
Until next week,