Abraham – Friend of God | Genesis 18
Abraham – Friend of God | Genesis 18
Do you have friends?
I am not talking about Facebook friends. I am talking about true and genuine friends. A friend who stays through thick and thin.
How does a true friend look like?
An English publication offered a prize for the best definition of a friend. Among the thousands of entries received were the following: “A friend is the one who multiplies joys, divides grief.” “True friend was somebody who knew all about you and still liked you. Another said, “There are two kinds of friends in life, the one that says “call me if you need anything,” and the one who shows up on your doorstep and says, “What can I do?” But the entry which won the prize said, “A friend is the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out.”
Do you know what is the greatest and a never-ending relationship we can ever have? A relationship with God. What kind of relationship does God really longs to have with you? Our relationship to God has many aspects. God is our father. He is our creator. God is our maker. He is our Lord. God is our redeemer. He is our savior. There are many attributes of our relationship to God in the scripture. The best of all what I like is God longs to be our friends. God wants you for a friend.
Does God consider you as a friend? And so, what does a friend of God look like?
A FRIEND OF GOD
2 Chronicles 20:7 Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?
James 2:23 The scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.
Two times the scripture calls Abraham God’s friend or a friend of God.
A man dialed a wrong number and got the following recording: “I am not available right now, but I thank you for caring enough to call. I am making some changes in my life. Please leave a message after the beep. If I do not return your call, you are one of the changes.”
Now the context of God calling Abraham a friend is based on the relationship that Abraham built with God from Genesis 12-18.
God called Abraham in Genesis 12, and promised him a land and child. In Genesis 15, God formalized the promise with a covenant or agreement. Remember, God is in conversation with Abraham all this while. In chapter 12 it was a one-way disclosure by God but by chapter 15 they are having a two-way discussion. By the time you come to Genesis 18, the Lord finally made a personal visitation to Abraham’s home to see if Abraham was ready to be the father of nations. By this time, the relationship of God and Abraham had grown into a friendly one.
What is the kind of relationship do you share with God today?
What qualifies one to be a friend of God?
CHARACTERISTICS OF GOD’S FRIEND
1. Friendship with God Begins When We Are Reconciled to God Through Faith
James 4:8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
How do you draw near to God?
James 2:23 “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.
Genesis 15:6 Abram believed in the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
In Genesis 15, ten years had passed by after obeying God. Abraham is 85 years old and there is still no sign of a child or the land. In relation to this, Abraham was in doubt God took him out of his tent and showed him the stars of the sky.
Genesis 15:3-6 3And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so, a servant in my household will be my heir.” 4Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” 5He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6Abram believed in the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
The focus of Abram at this point is on the promised seed.
The promised seed of Abram, the one through whom the nations of this world will be blessed. So, Abram’s faith is focused on the same faith is ours, namely in the seed of Abram, who is Christ according to Galatians 3.
Galatians 3:6-7 6So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 7Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham.
The moment one places their faith in God, they are called God’s friend.
2. Friendship with God Requires Obedience to God
John 15:14 You are my friends if you do what I command.
Look at the obedience in the life of Abraham. In Genesis 15, God appeared to him and made a covenant with him. Then in Genesis 17 God is giving Abraham 2 commands: Be blameless before me and circumcise.
Genesis 17:1-2 1When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless 2Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”
One cannot imagine a more unqualified requirement of absolute moral restitute that we have here. Here is the ultimate exam. Everyone is guaranteed to fail. No one will graduate. We all fail in the holiness test because the requirement is to be perfect, to be blameless as well to walk before God. This requirement is elaborated elsewhere in the Pentateuch. Leviticus 19 God speaks to Israel and God says…
Leviticus 9:1-2 1The Lord said to Moses, 2“Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.
The moment God says these things, the Bible says Abraham fell face down. Genesis 17:3 Abram fell facedown…
Secondly, do you know that God’s visitation to Abraham following immediately after Abraham obeyed in circumcising himself and the men of his whole household in Genesis 17:23-27.
Genesis 18:1-8 1The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. 2Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground. 3He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. 4Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 5Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.” “Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.” 6So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.” 7Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. 8He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.
3. Friendship with God Requires Being Hospitable
Illustration: The students in the second semester of nursing school were given a quiz by the school professor. The conscientious student had breezed through the questions until the last one, which read: ‘What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?” “Surely this was some kind of joke. How would I know her name?” Remarked the student who had seen the tall, dark-haired cleaning woman in her 50s several times. So, she handed in the paper, leaving the last question blank. Before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward the quiz grade. Absolutely, said the professor. “In your career you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello”. The student learnt the janitor’s name, Sumithra, and had never forgotten that lesson.
Abraham’s hospitality to God will later be contrasted with Sodom’s hostility to God in Genesis 19. It was a hot day in the blazing and baking desert. Abraham jumped into action the moment he saw the strangers. He bowed to them and then brought the three men water to wash their feet and then providing them shelter. Abraham then called himself “your servant” twice (v 3,5), addressed the stranger as lord and then he got to know it is the Lord, he called him “Lord” and addressed him as dust and ashes, v27.
Next, he selected the finest flour (v 6) and the choicest calf for a feast (v 7), all the very best. He did not sit with them but stood in respect (v 8) while they ate.
Look at Abraham’s hospitality:
a. Eagerness in Service
He ran or hurried to from the entrance of his tent to meet the visitors, v1. He hurried into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quick.” He ran to the heard and selected a choice tender calf, v7
This describes his determination and delight to serve strangers.
b. Politeness in Service
Genesis 13:3-4 3He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. 4Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 5Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”
Genesis 18:8 While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.
c. Lavishness in service
Genesis 18:6-8 6So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.” 7Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. 8He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.
Abraham used 22 liters of fine flour, choice tender calf. Curds and milk.
Altogether, Abraham used seven imperatives that day to express his delight in serving: Wash, rest, refresh, quick, knead, back, and prepare.
Genesis 18:4-64 Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 5Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.” “Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.” 6So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.” 7Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it.
Wash, rest, refresh, quick, knead, back, and prepare.
See the love of Abraham in action. See how spontaneous that welcoming outreach is to these strangers. Abraham does not do what I sometimes do. We most of the time do good to the ones from whom we can benefit. That is human nature.
Most of our invitations are half-hearted. Abraham’s invitation is full hearted. Here we see, he runs to these three strangers. He is outstanding in his love, outreach, and warmth to these strangers. Seeing the respect, he offers; he bows low to the ground. Paul says, “Honor one another above ourselves.” This is expressed here.
Hebrews 13:2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
4. Friendship with God Results in Concern for Others
Galatians 5:14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
1 John 4:20-21 20Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
20Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.” 22The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord. 23Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?
24What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? 25Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” 26The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
27Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, 28what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?” “If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.” 29Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?” He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.” 30Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?” He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”
31Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?” He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.” 32Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?” He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.” 33When the Lord had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.
Altogether he had asked for a whopping 80%, till it was too embarrassing and too awkward to ask anymore. Yet the Lord did not regard Abraham as arrogant.
To the Lord, Abraham’s request was respectful, not rude. Why?
Because God loves the world. Abraham here is concerned about Lot and the people of Sodom. See the term finished speaking. They had a deep talk regarding the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. So, a friend of God has deep concern for others.
5. Friendship with God Results Honoring God in the Family
Genesis 15:16-23 16When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. 17Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? 18Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. 19For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”
A friend of God involves his family in serving God. Abraham involved his wife, Sarah and his servants into service when the three visitors came to his house.
Benefits Of Being a Friend of God: God Confides in His Friends
Genesis 15:16-23 16When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. 17Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?
Psalm 25:14 The Lord confides in those who fear him…
God is always revealing himself to the world. But the ones who fear him, to his friends he has a special revelation.
Three Types of Instruction God Reveals To People:
A. God Instructs Sinners
Psalm 25:8 Good and upright is the Lord; therefore, he instructs sinners in his ways.
B. God Instructs the Humble
Psalm 25:9 He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.
C. God Instructs Those Who Fear Him
Psalm 25:12 Who, then, are those who fear the Lord? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.
Psalm 25:14 The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.
The next chapter on the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is giving in the light of Abraham having a good relationship with God and called the friend of God. Therefore, God is revealing to Abraham what he is going to do to Sodom and Gomorrah.
Being a friend of God does not mean that you don’t have struggles and disappoints in life. Remember in this chapter Abraham is showing the sings of being a good friend of God. But do you know that they are still battling with disbelief and disappointment?
Do you remember the three visitors that came to Abraham’s house?
Genesis 18:8b-15 While they ate, he stood near them under a tree. 9“Where is your wife, Sarah?” they asked him. “There, in the tent,” he said. 10Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 11Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my Lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?” 13Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 14Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” 15Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.” But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”
Do you know that even Abraham laughed at the thought of having a son at 99 years old?
Genesis 17:15-18 15God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” 17Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” 18And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!”
Following God, being a friend of God does not mean that you will not have disappointments in life. You may go through delays, but it is not a denial. Finally, God is able to accomplish all that he has promised.
Genesis 18:13-14 13Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 14Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
Is anything too hard for the lord? No nothing is too hard for the Lord.