Words of Healing “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” – Jesus (Matt 24:35).

21Sep/1110

Why is Abraham Called the Friend of God?

In the Bible, Abraham is the only person in the Old Testament who is called the friend of God (2 Chron 20:7, Isa 41:8).  Even Moses to whom God spoke face to face was still called "my servant Moses" (Num 12:7-8).  So, I can't help but wonder what it is that makes Abraham more than just a great servant of God like Moses and the prophets--the other great men in the Old Testament?  Well, I can't speak for God, but personally I believe that it's because Abraham shared a common burden with God.

The Sacrifice of Abraham

Abraham had many encounters with God throughout his journey to the promised land. In one of those instances, God told him to sacrifice his son Isaac. Many people disdain this scripture and can't believe in a God who would ask such a thing. Even I have a hard time as a father envisioning being able to obey God in such a scenario. However, I think that these people are failing to look at the bigger picture.

Indeed, it must have been very confusing to Abraham to have God ask him to take his child, who God had promised would be the child of promise and father many nations, and sacrifice him. However, we see in Hebrews that Abraham believed that God would raise Isaac from the dead. He did not believe God would go back on His promise about Isaac:

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death. (Heb 11:17-19, NIV emphasis added)

Notice the emphasis that I have added. God asked him to sacrifice his one and only son. This wasn't just a simple test.  This was a foreshadowing of what God Himself was going to do at the cross. This is THE big picture. It's what everything in the Bible hinges on. It wasn't merely asking a man to do something horrible, it was a revelation about God...that God would not ask us to do such things, but would instead provide a sacrifice for us. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son," (John 3:16, NIV, emphasis added).

So, I don't think that Abraham was called God's friend merely because he obeyed God to the utmost limit, but also because in that moment he shared with a piece of God's own heart. Through that willingness to sacrifice his greatest treasure, Abraham shared a glimpse into what God was willing to do for our sakes.  Like men in combat who suffer together create bonds that last a lifetime, so too this sacrifice created a bond between two fathers, and he was the friend of God.

The Lord Will Provide

Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad. (John 8:56, NIV, emphasis added)

I've always found it interesting here that Jesus used the past tense, as if Abraham had seen Jesus' day back in the past. It does not say this in Genesis when Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice, but I speculate that somehow Abraham saw Jesus' sacrifice on that day when he was going to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. In that moment, he realized from the pain of the sacrifice that he had been about to make, the sacrifice that God Himself was going to make on our behalf. And on that day, he called that place "The Lord Will Provide."

Friends of Jesus

You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit-fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other. (John 15:14-17, NIV)

I do not think that God the Father nor Jesus the Son throw the term "friend" around lightly. However, here Jesus calls those who obey his commands his friends. It may seem contradictory that He says we are friends and not servants IF we obey Him. However, there is no escaping the fact that He is the creator of the universe who is in charge of everything and we are a creation. An employee can be friends with his employer, but he still has to do his job.

However, I believe this is more than simple obedience. Like the bond that Abraham and God shared through their mutual willingness to sacrifice, I believe that Jesus is our friend when we share in the cross. Jesus asks us to die to our old selfish desires and to live to love other people as He does--to share in His life's mission. He died on the cross to seek and save the lost. If he was willing to go through such drastic measures to save those who are lost, can we not--out of gratitude--sacrifice some of our own selfish desires for the sake of loving others?

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (Gal 2:20-21, NIV)

Comments (10) Trackbacks (1)
  1. this article is an eye opener

  2. Hi, just stumbled on your site. Just been preparing a study on this very topic for our homegroup. We have been asking the question ‘what is God like?’ by looking at some of His Names. I have come to exactly your thoughts on this and surely this is the true meaning of Jehovah-Jireh, from His heart of love He PROVIDES THE SACRIFICE for our sins! It’s not really about the provision of stuff at all…Thanks, you have given me confidence in what I wish to communicate!

  3. If you want to be a friend of God’s you must keep His commandments. What commandments? The same commandments as His Father’s commandments…the laws of Moses. If you don’t then you aren’t His friend but His enemy. Jesus is God. God’s commandments are the same as Jesus’ commandments. Break the Sabbath day commandment then you are a sinner. God is not friends with adulterers nor liars nor thieves nor Christmas idol worship. It’s pretty simple when the thread the OT with the NT.

    • The rich young ruler had kept all of the commandments since childhood, and yet he walked away from Christ sad. The law does not bring life. Paul is quite clear that the law brings only death, and that salvation is through faith in Christ alone (Rom 4:13-16). Why? Because “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Rom 3:10). We cannot attain the perfection of the law and thus gain eternal life through it, and that is why Jesus had to die. He did not die for the righteous, but for the sinners (Luke 5:32). Jesus LOVES sinners and was called the friend of sinners in scripture (Matt 11:19). He also said that tax collectors and prostitutes were making it into Heaven ahead of those who were righteous (Matt 21:31). So, I find your statements about who can be the friend of God as unfounded in scripture.

      When the righteous people account to Jesus–on that day–of all the good works they did, he is going to cast them away and say “away from me you evildoers, I never knew you.” The key to the kingdom of Heaven is not in rule-keeping. Rule-keeping is empty. Rather, the kingdom of God is for those who have found a RELATIONSHIP with Christ through faith. I do not love Christ because I’m a good rule-keeper. I love Christ because while I was still a sinner, He loved me and died for me to show me the character of God…and when I saw his character…His glory…stooped down to pick me up like a little child…I loved him back (1 John 4:19).

      Now, with that said as the precursor to all. When my children tell me they love me and want a relationship with me, but then disobey…it creates a separation between them and I. A Christian does not obey the commandments of Christ to get the things of God. Rather, we have a relationship with God and we don’t want anything to come between us and Him, and so we obey His commandments…as Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey my commands.” (John 14:15). It is not obedience to commands that comes first but love and love creates the desire to obey so that we do not damage the relationship.

  4. Hey friends,
    A very good article and very good comments, too.
    Can I ask a question, though? Would I be wrong if I say that Jesus is the incarnation of God, and that “Son of God” actually refers to the incarnation of God, and not a literal son of God?

    • You would be right to say that Jesus is an incarnation of God, but he is not an incarnation of the Father. It is clear that through eternity Christ will continue to be subject to the Father and hand the kingdom back to the Father (e.g. 1 Cor 15:24-28). It would make no sense for Christ to hand the kingdom back to Himself, so it is clear that the scriptures teach that the Father and the Son are distinct persons. It is less clearly indicated but still implied that the Holy Spirit is also a distinct person. E.g. blasphemy against the Son is forgivable, but blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is not. If they are truly identical–the same person–this also would not make any sense. So, we can conclude that either the Bible has gross errors or God is three distinct persons.

      This is why Christians constructed the word “Trinity” from what we observe in the Bible. They are “one” but they are distinct. The way that God has chosen to reveal Himself to us is as a family–a father and a son. So, the best simile we have of God is as a family, and the best simile that we have for the persons in that family are a father and son. God has also given us marriage “where the two become one,” which does not mean that we become one person…only that we become one entity from two persons…a pale reflection of God, but one that helps us understand just a little bit more of God’s infinite nature.

      As to whether that makes him a “literal son of God,” I could go either way…kind of depends on how you want to go after that word literal. He is not a literal son in the sense that sons are born as a product of their fathers, but Jesus had no beginning at all. He said, “Before Abraham was born, I AM”. However, since there was an incarnation and he was born of a both human and spiritual nature…he became a quite literal son. However, I still think it’s best to think of the father/son as the best simile to understand the nature of God, and that the true nature of God is incomprehensible.

  5. Wow I just love the way God uses you to explain this. It has open my eyes and like an explosion happen in my Brian lol. Never thought about God and Abraham like two fathers feeling the same exact way God will feel with his son sacrifice. That just made me look at everything so different now. That’s why is so important to look for God and understand the bible. Sometimes it’s hard for me since I speak to languages Spanish and English lol so there’s things that kind of don’t make sense to me. But I thank God for your life. Do you have any more articles???

  6. Just reading what was written it really bless me thanks for posting. May God bless.

  7. Very very appealing and heart touching. I now have a clearer picture of being a friend of Jesus as God do called Abraham his friend. Is all about willingness and total submission to the will of God.
    Thank you so much


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