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019 Abraham, God’s Friend

‘And he believed in the Lord: and he counted it to him for righteousness, and he was called God’s friend.’ James 2:23

Key Verse:

‘For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness’

(Romans 4:3)

(Genesis 13-15)

In the last lesson, we began to look into what God’s Word says about the prophet Abraham. We learned that, at first, Abraham was not called Abraham, but

Abram.

We saw that Abram was born in the country of Chaldea, which today is called

Iraq.

The people of that land were idol worshipers.

However, the Scriptures say that, one day,

the LORD God appeared to Abram

and told him to leave his father’s house and move to a country which He would show him. Do you remember why God called Abram to move to another country? It was because God planned to make of Abram

a new nation

from which the prophets of God would come, and ultimately, the Saviour of the world Himself. Thus, we discovered that when God called Abram, He was moving forward with

His plan

to bring the Redeemer into the world. That is why God said to Abram, 

“And thou shalt be a blessing … and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. 12:2,3)

We read how Abram obeyed God and left his city,

not knowing where God would lead him.

When Abram left his father’s house, he was seventy-five years old. Abram took with him Sarai, his wife, and Lot, his nephew, and everything he owned, and his servants, and headed in the direction of Canaan. Canaan is the land which today is known as

Palestine or Israel.

When Abram arrived in the land of Canaan, the LORD appeared to him again and said, 

“To your offspring I will give this land.” (Gen. 12:7)

Thus we saw how God, who promised to make Abram the father of a new nation, also promised to give him a new land for his offspring to dwell in.

Incredible!

Abram and his wife were growing old and did not have any children. How then could they have a family which would eventually fill the land? We will soon see God’s answer to this.

Now, let us continue in the story of Abram. Our study is in the book of Genesis 13. In this chapter we will see

what happened between Abram and his nephew Lot.

The Scriptures say:

(Gen. 13:2-13) “And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. And he went on his journeys from the Negev even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai; Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the Lord. And Lot also, who went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents. And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together; for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together. And there was a strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdsmen of Lot’s cattle … And Abram said unto Lot,

Let there be no strife,

I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdsmen and thy herdsmen; for we are brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? Separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left. And

Lot lifted up his eyes,

and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him

all the plain of Jordan;

and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly”.

Thus we see how Lot chose the more fertile fields, and left his uncle Abram with the drier ones. However the portion which Lot chose was in the region of Sodom–a city which was filled with

great wickedness!

Lot chose his own will, while Abram chose God’s will. Two studies from now, Lord willing, we will see what happened to Lot who followed his own desires. In the end, Lot lost everything: his riches, his wife, his family, his happiness, and his testimony! As for Abram, who left everything in the hands of God,

he was greatly blessed by God.

The one who is wise will choose God’s will

How can we profit from the story of Lot and Abram? Perhaps by asking ourselves a simple question. Which of the two am I most like?

Lot or Abram?

Am I seeking after the things of the world, like Lot? Or the things of Eternity, like Abram? Like the two of them, each of us must choose between our own will and God’s will. The one who is wise will choose God’s will.

The Scriptures say: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36) “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world … and the world passeth away, and the lust of it; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” (1 John 2:15,17)

What is it that you want more than anything else?

The things of the earth which are passing away or the things of God which last forever?

Now, let’s continue with the story of Abram. The Scriptures say: (Gen. 13:14-18) “And the Lord said unto Abram, after Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward, for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth, so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for

I will give it unto thee.

Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there and altar unto the Lord”.

(Gen. 15:1-6) “After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceedingly great reward. And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and lo, one born in my house is mine heir. And behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying,

This shall not be thine heir;

but he that shall come forth out of thine own loins shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, look now toward heaven, and count the stars if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the Lord: and he counted it to him for righteousness”.

Incredible!

Abram and his wife were elderly and had no child. Yet God continued to make promises to Abram concerning a great people that would come from him. How could this be? How could Abram become the father of a great nation? There is only one answer: The LORD God is the God who can do all things!

God is great!

Nothing is impossible for Him! What God promises God performs.

What about Abram? Did he believe the LORD, who had promised an “impossible” thing? Listen to what the Scripture says: And he believed in the Lord: and he counted it to him for righteousness!”

What a wonderful thing!

God had promised Abram something which, humanly speaking, could not happen. Yet how did Abram respond? He believed what God had promised him! And what did God do? God reckoned Abram as one who is righteous,

because of his faith!

This truth ought to thrill the hearts of those who want to be counted as righteous before God. Why did God reckon Abram as one who is righteous?

Was Abram a righteous person in himself?

No! In our next lesson we will see how Abram had a sinner’s nature, like every descendant of Adam. Why then did God count Abram as righteous? God counted Abram as one who is righteous, because

Abram believed what God said!

What does it mean to believe God? As you may know, the Scriptures were written in the Hebrew language. In Hebrew, the word for “believe” is “AMAN” from which we get our word Amen. When you say “Amen” you are simply saying, “Yes! It is true!” or

“Yes, I agree!”

This is what it means to believe. When God made a promise to Abram, Abram’s heart response was: “Amen! Yes! It is true! I believe your words!” Based on that simple “Amen” to the word of God, God counted Abram as righteous.

How about you?

Do you want God to count {consider} you as one who is righteous, as He counted Abram righteous?

Then you must believe God as Abram believed God. You must believe what God says,

even if it is not easy.

You must accept the true Word of God, even if your relatives or your friends do not believe it. God wants to clothe you in His righteousness and give you the right to live in His holy presence forever, but

you must believe His Word!

The Holy Scriptures say that 

“without faith it is impossible to please God!” (Heb. 11:6)

and that 

“By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God – not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8,9)

“What shall we say, then, that Abraham, our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath something of which to glory, but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him righteousness.” (Rom. 4:1-3)

Abram believed what God said.

That is the reason that God gave to him His perfect righteousness.

And the most wonderful thing in all of this is that the words And he believed in the Lord: and he counted it to him for righteousness” are not just for Abram. We too can have a share in these words. God will give to us His perfect righteousness–

if we believe the Good News of God

concerning the Redeemer who later came into the world through the family of Abraham.

How about you? Do you really believe God? We are not asking if you believe that God exists, or if you believe that

God is one.

The Scriptures speak of that kind of “faith,” saying: “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well. The demons also believe, and tremble” (James 2:19) Satan himself knows that there is only one God.

Believing that there is one God, will not cause God to forgive your sins and count you as one who is righteous! What God wants is for you

to believe His Word and receive it.

God wants to speak to you through the Writings of the Prophets, His Holy Scriptures. He wants you to know and to believe the news of salvation which shows how you can be made forever righteous before God, the Holy One!

Dear friend, has God clothed you with His righteousness?

Or are you merely wearing the clothes of religion?

Are you listening to the trustworthy Word of God?

Or to the passing words of men?

Do you know what the Holy Scriptures declare concerning the righteous way of salvation which God has established?

Have you believed it?

As for Abram, he believed the word of God, although it meant saying farewell to his relatives and his father’s religion. And that is precisely why he was called

the friend of God.

That is what the Scriptures say: And he believed in the Lord: and he counted it to him for righteousness, and he was called God’s friend.” (James 2:23)

How about you?

Are you a friend of God?

This is where we must stop. In the next lesson we will look at the story of

Abram and Ishmael.

God bless you as you think about this great verse from His Book: 

And he believed in the Lord: and he counted it to him for righteousness, and he was called God’s friend.” (James 2:23)

We would invite you to answer the quiz attached