One of the grandest of the old hymns is:
“What a FRIEND we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear,
What a privilege to carry, everything to God in prayer.
Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer.”
Are we living that friendship? Are we taking advantage of the greatest friendship of all time and eternity? Are we experiencing the most intimate spiritual friendship ever offered to man?
DIVINE-HUMAN FRIENDSHIP – INCONCEIVABLE
Is there a greater gem 💎 or a higher privilege, than to have Almighty God as our FRIEND not only, but to have Him as our best FRIEND? I doubt it! I can’t think of any!
But it really seems too good to be true. It sounds like Fairy Tale stuff. Fantasy! Fiction! It sounds like it’s something way out of my league. I mean, God is God and man is man. He is way up there, and I am way down here. That sort of thing only happens in Disneyworld.
God is the ONLY ETERNAL TRANSCENDANT, and I am just a TEMPORAL DESCENDANT among billions. Doesn’t sound like we have a whole lot in common, which seems to me would be essential to true friendship. It would be like me befriending an ant!
Let alone the whole issue of INFINITE-FINITE INEQUALITY. Not a whole lot of commonality there. Friendship with God seems out of reach. Total disparity!
And yet we read in the Bible that Abraham, known as the father of believers, was called
“THE FRIEND OF GOD.” (Acts 2:23)
He may have lived in primitive times, but was he advanced in his relationships or what?! People today feel privileged because they shook LBJ’s hand.
No matter how far out it seems, the fact of the matter is that JESUS CHRIST BEFRIENDS HIS DISCIPLES. He does the befriending, He calls His followers friends.
We read of Jesus befriending His disciples in John 15:15,
“Henceforth I call you not SERVANTS, for the servant knoweth not what His Lord doeth: but I have called you FRIENDS; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known into you.”
From servant quarters to the inner sanctum of friendship. From the outer circle to the inner circle. The inequality is removed, for friends are on the same level. I can barely believe my ears as Jesus says,
“HOW ARE YOU FRIEND, COME ON IN AND HAVE A SEAT. CAN I GET YOU ANYTHING? WHAT IS MINE IS YOURS. ”
SLAVES OF SATAN – SERVANTS OF GOD
The children of Israel were in slavery to King Pharoah of Egypt for 400 years. It was a vicious, hard, cruel life. God called their slave camp in Exodus 30:2,
“A HOUSE OF BONDAGE”
In the murky mud fields of brick making, they could not make bricks fast enough to suit their slave driver Pharoah. They were slave labor to build the pyramids and empire of Egypt.
The Israelites were dropping dead like flies from weakness and exhaustion. Such was their slavish bondage to Pharoah. It was an unspeakably painful and killing life.
But you see, we too were literally, not figuratively, slaves to sin and Satan. Acts 8:23 calls it,
“THE BONDAGE OF INIQUITY.”
We with all mankind could not sin fast enough to suit our slave driver Satan. Humanity has been dropping dead like flies in their sin bondage throughout history.
Serving Satan by sinning has been propagandized as easy living, and an easy way of life. New Orleans with its no morals Mardi Gras is called THE BIG EASY. So, sin for all your worth and ease on down the road.
Wrong! Dead wrong! The life of sin is the hardest life there is. Serving Satan by sinning will kill you.
Just so you know, the word for WICKED in the Greek New Testament is a revealing word. It is the word PONAYROS, which comes from the root word PONOS which means LABOR, TOIL, HARD WORK.
“NOTHING WILL DRAIN YOU, WASTE YOU, AND KILL YOU LIKE WICKEDNESS. IT IS THE EPITOMY OF SLAVE LABOR.”
Wickedness is an insatiable appetite for corruption. You can never get enough! Wickedness will literally work you to death. Just ask any convict, alcoholic, drug addict, adulterer, pornographer, and on and on. Nothing will destroy you like making wicked bricks in the mud pits of Satan
And again, the ADULTERER in the Bible is characterized as a HARD LABORER. It is revealing how the husband or wife stealer is portrayed in Job 24:16,
“AND BY NIGHT HE DIGS THROUGH HOUSES.”
Get the picture! The spouse robber does his dirty digging in the dark of 🌙 night. If you will,
“AN ADULTERER IS REALLY NOTHING MORE OR LESS THAN A DIRTY HOLE DIGGER ON SOMEONE ELSE’S PROPERTY.”
And as he digs in the dirt of sexual lust, He digs for himself a grave of guilt, shame, broken lives, broken marriages, and broken families. No, this is not a labor of love, but the hard toil of sin, brokenness, and death.
Only Jesus Christ can free us from SLAVERY TO SATAN, and make us SERVANTS OF GOD. We are all either one or the other.
If we serve Satan and sin, we are slaves to guilt and shame. If we serve God, we become servants of righteousness and peace.
That is why Jesus said in Matthew 11:30,
“MY YOKE IS EASY…”
The fact is that we are either YOKED WITH JESUS, or we are YOKED WITH SATAN. The yoke of Jesus is EASY, but the yoke of Satan is hard and grinding.
Isn’t it something that the servants of Satan curse God, but the servants of God praise God? Because servants of Satan are basically miserable, and servants of God are full of joy.
So we read in Psalm 113:1,
“PRAISE THE LORD, PRAISE THE LORD YE HIS SERVANTS, PRAISE THE NAME OF THE LORD.”
ONLY SERVANTS OF GOD BECOME FRIENDS OF GOD.
There is a strong promotion going on in John 15:15 in the words of Jesus to His disciples,
“I NO LONGER CALL YOU SERVANTS, I CALL YOU FRIENDS.”
“IF THEY WERE NOT HIS REAL SERVANTS, THEY COULD NEVER BE HIS TRUE FRIENDS.”
They are crossing over a line from distance to intimacy, but that never comes cheap. ABRAHAM didn’t become God’s friend because he was such a nice guy.
ABRAHAM was tested as a servant from the very start! Servants, real servants do exactly what their master tells them to do whether it makes sense or not. Much of the time it didn’t for Abraham:
“MINE IS NOT TO REASON WHY, MINE IS TO DO OR DIE.”
What follows is found in Genesis 22. One day God came to Abraham and tested his servant’s heart with a lollapalooza of a command. A command that would not make his day, but break his heart!
In Genesis 22:1 God commands Abraham, and you can feel the excruciating pain,
“TAKE NOW THY SON, THINE ONLY
SON ISAAC, WHOM THOU LOVEST, AND GET THEE INTO THE LAND OF MORIAH, AND OFFER YOUR SON THERE AS A BURNT🔥OFFERING ON A MOUNTAIN THAT I WILL TELL THEE OF.”
ABRAHAM knew that voice well. That was the voice that first commanded him to take his wife and get out of the Ur of the Chaldees to a land that God would show him. Oh yes, he knew the voice that now told him to sacrifice the God promised seed Isaac. That voice does not waste words or make suggestions.
ABRAHAM knew that voice unmistakably. That was the voice that told him that his wife in her old infertile years would be pregnant with a son. That is the promised seed and the very son that God is now commanding him to sacrifice on a burnt 🔥altar. That voice not only does not make suggestions, but does not deal in multiple choices either.
(Correction! God did give David a multiple choice – pick your poison punishment for his numbering of the Israeli troops. But any of those toxins would be preferable to climbing a mountain and killing your own son.)
Never had a servant of God been tested and tried like this. The VOICE is firm and commanding. The test of his allegiance and commitment to God is painfully unprecedented.
Abraham asked no questions of God therefore, even though I have many unanswered questions. But I think if I would have heard the VOICE, my questions would all have been rendered irrelevant.
THE DRAMA ON MT. MORIAH
In Genesis 26:24 God calls Abraham MY SERVANT. God’s servant arises early in the morning, and with his son in tow begins the 3 day journey to the land of Moriah. There is a mountain there that God has targeted as the place of sacrifice – MT. MORIAH.
Interesting that MORIAH means SEEN BY GOD. God had His EYE ON MORIAH. This was not a whim of a moment snap decision. God does not make whimsical choices or decisions. God had marked out that mount for a drama that with the mountain itself, like Mt. Calvary, would transcend the ages.
On the journey there, Isaac carries the wood for the sacrifice. How gut wrenching is that for his dad. Isaac, who is not ignorant of the Jewish sacrificial system, sees that his father already has the fire for the wood on his own back.
In Genesis 22:7-8,
“ISAAC SAYS, ‘FATHER.’ Abraham responds, ‘HERE I AM MY SON.’ Isaac continues, ‘THERE IS THE FIRE AND THE WOOD FOR THE SACRIFICE, BUT WHERE IS THE 🐑LAMB FOR THE BURNT 🔥OFFERING?'”
Abraham responds, “GOD WILL PROVIDE THE LAMB FOR THE BURNT OFFERING.” And they continued on together.
Once the mountain had been climbed by Abraham and Isaac, father Abraham proceeds to build an ALTAR OF SACRIFICE. Things move very quickly now.
Before he knows what hit him, Isaac is bound hand and foot by His father, and laid on the altar of sacrifice. So much for going hiking and mountain climbing with Dad. The trip was time to spend with each other. A father-son outing! Think again!
Whatever notions Isaac had about about the trek, they are now rudely and fearfully😱 blown to bits. His life is about to end at the hands of his father who must now look more like a madman. Just when you think you know someone.
Not a word from Isaac. It was THE SILENCE OF THE LAMB!
HORRIFYINGLY Abraham’s knifed hand is raised high to heaven, ready to plunge the blade downward into his lamb-son. God Almighty! This is something from THE BATES MOTEL!
And at the very last second, a very loud angel’s voice shouts from heaven,
“ABRAHAM. ABRAHAM, STOP, DO YOUR SON NO HARM!”
And then the entire purpose of this super-suspenseful drama is revealed as God says to Abraham in Genesis 22:12,
“I KNOW NOW THAT YOU FEAR GOD, SEEING THAT YOU DID NOT WITHHOLD YOUR SON, YOUR ONLY SON FROM ME. ”
Seriously? Is that what this is all about? To prove that I FEAR YOU, I must be willing to stab to death and fry my son as a burnt offering to you? Wouldn’t the sacrifice of a hundred of my best lambs suffice?:
“NO, says the Lord, “I NEEDED TO SEE THAT YOUR REVERENCE FOR AND DEVOTION TO ME IS GREATER THAN YOUR GREATEST LOVE ON EARTH. I AM NOW SATISFIED THAT YOUR SERVANTHOOD TO ME IS FAR MORE IMPORTANT TO YOU THAN YOUR FATHERHOOD TO ISAAC.”
One might expect Abraham to say to his son, “COME ON SON, LET’S GET OUT OF HERE. THERE HAS BEEN A BIG MISUNDERSTANDING AND I WILL TRY TO EXPLAIN IT TO YOU ON THE WAY. LET’S GO HOME.”
No, always God’s servant first.He sees a ram entangled in the brush. He must fulfill his heart’s deepest longing, and that is to obey his MASTER. After all, God demanded a sacrifice, and He must have one. The trapped ram will have to do. Abraham being Abraham!
ABRAHAM – GOD’S CONFIDANT
Man’s best friend! Of course, the best friend being referenced there is a man’s dog. Fito! Rags! Bengi! Sandy! Whatever his or her name, he or she is credited with THE BEST FRIEND title. The BLUE RIBBON in the friendship category. Not PLACE or SHOW. No, this is a WIN for Buddy the Golden Retriever, the BEST BUDDY IN ALL THE WORLD.
Of course we all know that DOG 🐕 is GOD spelled backwards. And as usual, man has it all backwards. The truth is, GOD IS MAN’S BEST FRIEND!
True, most men, even most religious people, would stay with the doggy motif when it comes to best friend. I am convinced that if you on the spur of the moment asked John Doe as to who was man’s best friend, He would not say GOD! 999 out of 1000 times!
We read in Acts 2:23,
“ABRAHAM WAS CALLED THE FRIEND OF GOD.”
And again we read in Acts 33:11,
“THAT GOD SPOKE TO MOSES AS A MAN SPEAKETH TO HIS FRIEND.”
Gripping stuff! It becomes even more intimate when we read that God was going to incinerate gay rotted Sodom and Gomorrah, but before He did so, it states in Genesis 18:17,
“AND THE LORD SAID, ‘SHALL I HIDE FROM ABRAHAM THE THING THAT I GO ABOUT TO DO?'”
In other words:
“A TRUE FRIEND IS REALLY YOUR OTHER SELF.”
“NOTHING IS TO BE CONCEALED FROM YOURSELF OR FROM YOUR OTHER SELF.”
If you will:
“TO BE SELF-CONSCIOUS AND TO BE FRIEND-CONSCIOUS ARE EQUIVALENT TERMS.”
We remember that Abraham feared God, and Psalm 25:14 tells us this:
“THE SECRET OF THE LORD IS WITH THEM THAT FEAR GOD.”
This is the sacred privilege of friendship with God, namely,
“THAT THE THE FRIEND OF GOD IS THE CONFIDANT OF GOD.
“THE CONFIDANT OF GOD IS GIVEN KNOWLEDGE OF THE SECRETS OF GOD, AND PARTICIPATION IN THE COUNSELS OF GOD.”
“THE FRIENDS OF GOD ARE THE MOST ENLIGHTENED PEOPLE ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH.”
In closing, it has been said, and rightfully so:
“EVERY MAN NEEDS NOT ONLY ANOTHER HEART, BUT ALSO ANOTHER HEAD BESIDES HIS OWN.”
God’s friendship with man needs no less. Amen!