Ye are My Friends

We read in the Word of God that God took His chosen saints and servants at
different times to mountain tops to reveal His plan for them. It is good to study each
of such cases individually. Now we want to see how God took Abraham to Mt.Moriah.
God first appeared to Abraham in Genesis 12. But He took him to Mount
Moriah about forty-six years later. God had to take Abraham through many different
experiences during those forty-six years, before he was ready to come to Mount
Moriah. Whenever we desire to get a mountain-top experience of the power and
grace of God, we must be prepared to go through the many experiences by which
God in His perfect wisdom prepares us His children. It may not be necessary for
everyone to go through such experiences for forty-six years, but you will find that
certain periods of such experiences from God are necessary. Even though we may
read the Bible prayerfully and carefully every day, even though we may have the
privileges of attending Bible Studies by the best teachers available, having fellowship
with the saints of God in a living assembly, and having spiritual parents, yet for our
spiritual education and maturity there is a time factor. God has a plan which may
extend over a period of less or more years. Whatever it may be, it is very necessary
to pass through these painful and trying experiences, in order to be prepared for the
Mountain of God.

Now God had planned from eternity to make Abraham His friend. In Isaiah
41:8 He calls him "Abraham my friend", but to become the friend of God, Abraham
had to be prepared that he might be able to enjoy the friendship of God. Mount
Moriah might also be called the Mount of God's friendship. For forty-six years God
had been preparing Abraham step by step to make him His friend. In every human
heart there is a longing to have a friend. Even small children show their desire to
have a companion or friend, because of that inward longing. In our school days each
one of us had our own special friend. Again in college there were special friends, and
in later life it is a peculiar joy to meet old school and college friends.

Several years ago I passed through Calcutta and there I met a very old friend
of mine whom I had not seen for thirty-one years. We had been thick friends in
college days, but when I went to England, we lost touch. Then after several years he
saw my name in the newspaper and wrote to me. So we began to correspond. When
I went to Calcutta I visited him, and what a joy it was to see him and the whole
family. He called his wife and children to meet me, his old friend, and I had the great
joy of giving them the Gospel for two hours. This illustrates my point that in the
heart of every man there is a longing to have a friend. But it is not very easy to have
good friends, and that is why many are disappointed. Some have been friends for
two or three years and then have separated. I am sure there are many who have
been sadly disappointed because of broken friendship. But here God was speaking to
Abraham as His true friend. (To be continued.)

If you want to have a true friend in your life, or to be a true friend to
someone, first learn to cultivate real friendship with the living Savior. As you begin to
grow in the friendship of the Lord Jesus Christ, He will give you many loving friends
everywhere. Before that, you may have shown much affection to certain friends, and
spent your money on them. In order to show your friendship, you may have written
very long letters. You may have even sat up at night and exhausted all your
vocabulary to show your affection. When the reply came after three or four weeks,
and when you opened it with trembling hands, and found nothing but a few formal
lines thanking you for your letter, and apologizing for the delay in replying, your face
fell and you had no desire to eat or drink. That is human nature. When however, you
have learned by experience to be the friend of God, you will see that He Himself will
give you many loving friends who will give you love unspeakable.

The disciples were feeling very sad because the Lord Jesus had told them in
a very plain way how He was going to be betrayed and crucified. They were all
feeling downcast, and did not even know what to say. But as they walked in the dark
night in the small path leading to Gethsemane, our Lord said, "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 unto you"
(John 15: 15). They thought they were being left alone and forsaken, but He called
them His friends. Servants cannot understand anything about the master, but a
friend can, and that is why the Lord made known to His disciples all what He head of
His Father. That is divine friendship.

God was leading Abraham to the very same frienu3hip. "And the LORD said,
Shall l hide from Abraham that thing which I do" (Gen. 18: 17). What a wonder this
is! God had every right to do what He wished. His time had come to judge the
inhabitants of those wicked cities called Sodom and Gomorrah and He was about to
do so. But He said: "How can I hide it from Abraham?" Abraham was not saying: "Oh
God! You must tell me everything," because he had not yet understood the heart of
God for him. No doubt, he had been obeying God as far as he could, but he had not
yet entered into the heart of God. Now God was saying about him. "How can I hide
my counsel from Abraham?" This is God's purpose for you and me also. We are
redeemed, purchased, washed and cleansed by His blood, not to live as we like. No,
we have been called to be the friends of the most high and living God. God wants
you to climb that Mountain of Friendship and then you will know how God, as your
friend, reveals and shows you many truths and mysteries. If you are really a child of
God and if you are truly born again there will be a great longing in your heart to
know the Bible. This was my longing too. I went on reading the Bible sometimes for
12 to 14 hours a day. But that did not solve my problem. Bible knowledge itself does
not satisfy our hunger. Similarly, I thought that by spending many hours in prayer I
would be satisfied. I tried that too, and whenever and wherever possible I spent
hours in prayer, but even then I could see defeat in my life. Then I began to long for
some miracles and through prayer and by God's grace, I saw many miracles also.
But even that did not satisfy me. But when I understood God's purpose that He, the
holy, just, mighty and great God wanted me to be His friend and enjoy pure
friendship with Him, I was satisfied. God Himself began to speak to me and taught
me things which I could not learn from any man. In other words, He taught me how
to be His co-laborer, partner and friend.

Let us now consider a few points about the friendship of God with Abraham.
"And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto
him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am" (Gen. 22: 1). First of all, God
tempted Abraham, i.e. He proved or tested him. Now if you want to climb the
mountaintop of friendship with God and if you want to enjoy the friendship of God,
then be prepared to be proved and tried by God's own testings.

If you want to climb the mountain top of friendship with God and if you want
to enjoy the friendship of God, be prepared to be proved and tried by God's own
testings, as He proved Abraham (Gen. 22:1).

When a watchmaker wants to use a piece of steel for a watch spring, he has
to put the steel through many tests before using it. Only the watchmaker knows
what kind of spring is required for the watch. In the same way, when any metal is to
be used for an aeroplane, that piece of metal will be first proved by many tests. It is
only then that the metal will be fit for use in the aeroplane. In the same way, God
Who alone knows our real ministry on earth and in heaven, has to apply every kind
of test in our lives, so that we may be found fit and worthy. We as believers should
never question or doubt God, demanding of Him why this or that has happened in
our lives. Believe me, every test, however severe, is very necessary to the one who
desires to be a friend of God. Some of the tests will be very painful, and the enemy
will try to suggest that you are being punished by God for your failure in the past. If
however, you have understood God's purpose, then remember, you are forgiven
completely. When you have confessed your sins and have put things right with God
and man, then your sins are forgiven, covered and washed. His grace will never dig
them up again. Your part is to be faithful and sincere in your repentance and
confession, and obey God, putting all things right, with your fellowmen. Afterwards
let God try and prove you by any test. All the saints of God, down the world's
history, have been proved in different ways, and were found faithful.

We read that when God called Abraham, he said, "Behold, here I am!" He
could not have said that so quickly in the beginning, but he had been prepared by
God for forty -six years. His ears had become sensitive to the voice of God. God
spoke and he heard and responded immediately. He did not say, "Lord, give me five
or ten minutes!" Many people hear God speaking in a meeting or in their quiet time
or in prayer time, but they answer, "God! Please give me ten minutes; I will consult
my darling wife and give you a definite reply. She is a very good wife and the best
woman in the whole world. Please God, just wait for a few minutes and I will ask her
permission and then come:' Abraham did not say, "Let me consult Sarah and then I
will come to you," for he had been truly prepared by God. In a subtle way the devil
has deceived many God's servants, teachers and believers. They allow some man,
some woman, some relation to come between God and themselves. But Abraham's
answer was, "Behold, here am I", which meant: "Oh God! I am fully ready, and
prepared. You tell me and I will do it:' If you are not clear as to God's voice, then
wait, because in some cases it takes a month or two, or more to know God's will. But
when God speaks and commands, you must say at once, "Behold, I am here:'

In Gen. 22:3 we read, "Abraham rose up early in the morning:' Isaac was
Sarah's son also, and no doubt his mother must have loved him more dearly than
even Abraham did. But without consulting Sarah, Abraham was ready to take Isaac
as God had commanded. Some may say that the customs in India and in America
are different. You may say that American wives are different from Indian wives. They
demand everything! -and to maintain peace, men have to tell everything to their
wives! It may be an American wife, English wife, or an Indian wife; a graduate wife
or an illiterate wife, the divine law is the same for every country. In the work of God,
and the things of God, it is the same divine law that is operative. If you make any
alteration in any divine law, you will bring great weakness in your testimony and loss
in your ministry. You could never say that Abraham did not love Sarah, or that Sarah
did not love Abraham. God spoke first to Abraham, and though he loved Sarah, he
had already learned a lesson that he should not listen to his wife before obeying God.
It was Sarah who had advised him to go to Hagar. Without consulting God he had
obeyed her, and the mistake of that day is still being seen and felt in the whole world
in the seed of Ishmael... Divine laws are not to be trifled with. Abraham had learned
that lesson, that when God speaks, He must be obeyed. So without consulting any
person, he obeyed God immediately. We must never try to change divine laws by
human wisdom.

At God's command Abraham went to the land of Moriah. "Then on the third
day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off" (Gen. 22:4). He did not
tell even Isaac what he was going to do with him. We do not find the least anxiety in
the heart of Abraham. When Isaac questioned him about the offering he said, "My
son, God will provide" (verse 8). He was not avoiding Isaac's question. When he said
that God would provide, he actually believed that the Lord would provide. Literally
the meaning of Moriah is, "God will provide". Here we see the kind of faith that had
been created and developed in the heart of Abraham. The true friendship that God
offers depends upon a strong, living and simple faith. Alas! For most of us, we have
no faith. Even though we talk about faith, and preach and sing about faith, when we
fate the actual test, we have no faith. We know how the devil again and again brings
some doubt into our hearts. Even though we have proved God on many occasions
and many times He has given us victory over the enemy's devices, doubts still come
into our hearts. Before holding a Holy Convocation we have so many questions in our
mind. We ask ourselves, “What will happen tomorrow? We have prepared for only a
thousand guests for the Holy Convocation". Suddenly panic comes in. "What about
Wednesday? What about Thursday?" And for a short time there will be panic and
doubt. Then we remember that for the past several years we have been having
many Holy Convocations, and every year God has not only met every need but also
allowed us never to keep any bill waiting for payment, nor have we refused anyone.
God meets every need without hints of any kind. Even so at times we have known
that for a few minutes a little doubt comes in till the Lord reassures us with His
promise that He will surely provide.

In the same way, we often find that when we are asked to give a message we
feel so dry, empty and weak. The throat gets dry and the brain tired. But when we
seek His face He provides His message. You will find the same in every test. I know
it by experience. He is faithful. I have seen some people very worried as their
families increase. They begin to wonder how they will clothe their children, or
educate them, or get them married. If they are girls, the problem is still worse. I am
talking about believing parents and even God's servants. Yet surely if God can
provide for one, He can provide for ten children. Where is your faith? Whenever God
blesses, He provides. Whatsoever burden we may have to bear, He gives abundant
grace, yea, extra grace for that burden. Abraham knew these words were spoken by
God and not by man. That is why he was prepared to do as God told him. God said,
"Take your son!" and he took him. He took wood also. Then God told him to build an
altar, and he built it, without any question or doubt in his mind. That is real
friendship with this mighty God. When God says, "Yes!" I say, "Yes", and when God
says, "No", I say "No". When God says, "Go!" I go, when He says, "Stay”, I stay and
when He says, "Speak", I speak. You find that such friendship will carry you up every
mountain. Your sufferings and trials are all preparation for such a friendship.

In Genesis 18 God told Abraham how He was going to judge Sodom and
Gomorrah, but now in chapter 22 God wanted to tell him what was going to happen
through his seed. "That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply
thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore;
and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies" (v. 17,). That seed is the Lord
Jesus Christ and Abraham was thus a partaker of all the blessings which were to
come through that Seed. He would enjoy the fruits of the victory of that Seed over
all the enemies of God, and over all the powers of darkness. We too have the right in
Him to enjoy the fruit of His victory, which will ensure not only a happy life upon the
earth, but also a share in His triumphant victory over all the powers of darkness in
heavenly places. That is what it means to be a friend of God.

Genesis 22:13 reveals something more of what the friendship of God had for
Abraham. "And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a
ram caught in a thicket by his t1orns..:'. The ram was caught in the thicket, not
because it would run away somewhere. God would have made that very same ram to
appear right before Abraham without being bound in a thicket. But God was teaching
him some important lessons. After he had passed the final test, he saw the ram
caught in the bush. This ram is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. God was saying to
Abraham, "You have obeyed my voice. Now I am bound to bless you and your seed.

Now command Me. Continue to command me". "Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One
of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come ...concerning the work of my
hands, command ye me" (Isaiah. 45:11). God is willing to bless us if we obey Him.
Most of us want God to listen to us and work for us. But we do not obey Him. The
Lord Jesus wants us to command from Him the blessing of God for all nations, and
also victory over all enemies. God took Abraham on the mountain top, that he might
learn how to command the best things from God for all the generations to come. Do
you have a desire to climb that mountain of God's friendship? Do you want to be a
friend of God? If so, you will find the whole secret revealed in the life of Abraham
and especially in Genesis chapter 22.

Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.   Matthew 24: 42