By: Holly Green
Genesis 11-Second test of friendship.
Friendship with God:
What Abraham’s life teaches us about walking with God–TRUST
An important part of friendship is trust.
James 2:23-“and the scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness,’ and he was called the friend of God.”
What made Abraham so close to God is that he trusted Him. In the first lesson of Phillip’s, we saw that Abraham was called to leave his home and “go not knowing”, leaving a nice place to live to live in tents in the desert.
Phillip makes a great point that as Abraham’s friendship with God deepens, the challenges become greater. The deeper we go within our friendship with God, the more challenging it can be for us. If we want to get closer to God, we have to go through those challenges.
Romans 4:16 says that we all have the promise of heaven, “…not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.” Even the Romans, who were not Jews, looked to Abraham as their father and we can look to him as our model.
In Genesis 11:29, we are introduced to Abram (Abraham), and are told twice that his wife, Sarai, had no child and was barren. In this culture, children were seen as a blessing and security for old age. One could also live on after he was dead, if he had an heir. Abram and Sarai did not have an heir and God makes bold promises to Abram in chapter 12:2-3-“I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; I will bless those who bless you and the one who curses you i will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
God tells Abram again in verse 7-“…to your descendants I will give this land,” and Abram does not have one baby, yet.
Phillip said, “It’s as if Abram’s whole future depended on him having an heir because all of these promises center around having a child.”
Abram is feeling the pressure and is confused because he is aging and Sarai is past child-bearing years. God talks to him again in chapter 15:1-6. Abram could not imagine how he and Sarai were going to have a child to fulfill all of these promises since he was old. He tells God it will have to be Eleazer, his servant. Occasionally, back then, if the man had no child, a servant received the inheritance. Abram thinks it must be him because time is running out. God says no because a child would come from his own body. How can this be? Abram, however, believed God and that is what made him right with God. That takes a lot of faith!
The way to salvation is our faith and we have to learn to trust God. The Jews failed in obedience but Abraham trusted God and believed Him. We need to trust that Christ can save us from our sins, our salvation is riding on this! We are made right with God and he becomes our friend.
Sarai struggled with this, too. She knew that her biological clock had stopped ticking and that she could not have any kids. She felt the need to help God along with His promises by using her maid to obtain children. Chapter 16:1-4, 15 tell how Sarai uses a custom that was used among those people if a woman could not have a child. It was customary to have more than one wife or for the servant to have the child if the wife was barren. That child would then belong to the wife. When they tried to do it the world’s way, it made a mess out of these relationships and these families. This happened between Sarai and Hagar, her maid, who bore Ishmael. This was sinful but more importantly, not part of God’ plan.
God comes to Abram again in chapter 17:1-7, reiterating the promises to him and changes his name to Abraham. In verses 15 and 16, He changes Sarai’s name to Sarah, saying she will be a mother of nations and kings will come from her. Abraham laughs at the idea of having a child at 100 years old and repeats that it must be Ishmael. God said “no”, and that he would multiply Ishmael’s descendants and princes would come from him, but His covenant will be with Isaac, whom Sarah would give birth to at that time the next year.
Sarah laughs also in chapter 18 when God sends messengers to tell him again of the promises. Sarah is listening at the door and laughs because she is 89 years old. The text mentions the fact that she is old three times to tell us, “These people should not be having children!” The idea is ridiculous enough to laugh at.
The Lord asks why she laughed, saying, “Is anything too hard for God?”
She denies it because she is afraid but He says, “No but you did laugh.”
Abraham and Sarah cannot see the possibility of this happening and are trying to come up with ways to make this promise happen. They are struggling with this but in the end the believed God. Hebrews 11:11-12 describe Sarah’s faith and how she, “…judged Him faithful, who had promised; therefore, also there was born of one man, one as good as dead…”
Friendship with God involves…believing and not understanding. We have to take the reasons we have and step forward. When God gives us a peek of things that are His, we will not understand. Examples of this are the resurrection, judgment, heaven, hell. God uses us in the church. Abraham did not see the promises fulfilled before he died. We might not see the fruit of God’s use for us until we die but we can believe the promises. We have a crisis of faith of how we expect Him to come through.
1) In dealing with this test of faith, remember from Abraham’s experiences: God is never accidentally late; He is never late
2) You can’t hurry up God or artificially help with His plan by your own actions-this might take years or decades but He will use us
3) The real goal is to grow our faith in God through trust and patience-when you plant a tree, it takes years before you see anything come from it but the first days, months and years, it is setting up it’s roots
Walking with God and being His friend, our most valuable time is waiting on Him. There is also an element of fascination to it.
To listen to this lesson online, go to http://www.dulleschurchofchrist.org and click on sermons.