“So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham” (Gal. 3:9, KJV). The words “faithful Abraham” are a marvelous and straightforward way of summarizing Abraham’s relationship with God. If every Christian living today could come to the end of his or her life and be described as “faithful” then that would be all that matters (Rev. 2:10). After all, Heaven awaits “faithful servants” (Matt. 25:21, 23).
The term “faithful” in Galatians 3:9 comes from the Greek word pistos which can also be rendered “believing.” In fact, most other translations render the text like that of the New King James Version: “So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham” (emp. mine, SS). Rendering the word “believing” may best fit the context of Galatians 3 since Paul had previously referenced Genesis 15:6 when he told the Galatians, “just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness’” (Gal. 3:6 emp. mine, SS). However, whether the word is translated as “believing” or “faithful,” the point is unchanged. Abraham was an individual who could well be described as “one who trusts in God’s promises” like Thayer further defines the word pistos in the context of Galatians 3:9.
Space does not afford a thorough look at Genesis 12-25 to see all the ways in which Abraham was faithful in his relationship to God. Nevertheless, a few examples might be brought to the reader’s attention to make the point. Abraham was faithful in obeying God when God told him to leave his home at seventy-five years of age (Gen. 12:1-5; Heb. 11:8-10). He was faithful in carrying out the covenant of circumcision (Gen. 17). He was faithful in obeying God’s directions to sacrifice Isaac while believing that God had the power to raise him from the dead (Gen. 22:1-10; Heb. 11:17-19). Thus, God’s relationship with Abraham can been seen from the standpoint of faithfulness.
Another way to consider God’s relationship with Abraham is from the standpoint of family. Abraham cared very much for his family. God himself said of Abraham, “For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him” (Gen. 18:19).
It is interesting to consider that God spoke these words in the context of what he was about to do to Sodom and Gomorrah. Once God told Abraham about the impending destruction of these areas (Gen. 18:20-21), Abraham immediately begins to plead with God about sparing them (Gen. 18:22-33). Abraham’s relationship with God was so strong that he knew the kind of God that he served was a fair God. Hence, he says to God, “Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen. 18:25). Abraham knew that God would always do what is right.
Why was Abraham so concerned about Sodom and Gomorrah? He had a keen interest in the area because he had family there. The Bible informs us that Abraham’s nephew, Lot, had separated himself from Abraham to put to rest a conflict between their herdsman (Gen. 13:7). The Bible says of this separation: “Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other. Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom” (Gen. 13:11-12). By the time one reads the next chapter, Lot is living in Sodom (Gen. 14:12). Therefore, Abraham knows that if God destroys Sodom that his nephew is also in danger of being destroyed along with it.
Abraham cared for the well-being of his nephew because he cared for his family. As the record indicates, Abraham kept “whittling” down the number of righteous people living in the areas of Sodom and Gomorrah to see if God would still consider sparing them. From fifty righteous persons to ten righteous persons, God promises he will not destroy it for the sake of as little as ten (Gen. 18:32). It is a sad commentary indeed of the wickedness of the cities since God does go on to destroy them (Gen. 19:24). At the same time, God’s fairness still did not allow the righteous to perish with the wicked as seen in his sparing of Abraham’s nephew Lot and his family (Gen. 19:12-23; 2 Pet. 2:7-8).
Returning to the statement found in Genesis 18:19 that Abraham would “command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord,” we find Abraham’s concern for his son Isaac’s faithfulness. Specifically, Abraham knew that whom Isaac had as his wife would greatly affect his faithfulness to God. Knowing this truth, Abraham tells his servant, “Please, put your hand under my thigh, and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell; but you shall go to my country and to my family, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” (Gen. 24:2-4). Since Abraham wanted to keep his son away from the idolatrous practices of the Canaanites and instead “keep the way of the Lord,” he sought a wife for his son that would help him get to heaven. Likewise, Christians need to learn from this principle and choose mates that will help them get to heaven.
In addition to viewing God’s relationship with Abraham from the standpoints of faithfulness and family, there is at least one more standpoint that bears consideration. In fact, it might be said that this last one is a result of Abraham’s faithfulness and concern for family. The final standpoint to be considered is that of friendship.
The Bible has much to say about friendship. For example, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24). Also, “A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity” (Prov. 17:17). One more example is, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:13-14).
Usually, when people think about friendship, they think about people in their lives with whom they share a close relationship but have no blood relation to them. However, one of the most impressive things said about Abraham is what James called to mind in the last part of James 2:23: “And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ And he was called the friend of God” (emp. mine, SS). There are two other instances in the Bible where Abraham is specifically called God’s friend. The Chronicler said it: “Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?” (2 Chr. 20:7). Additionally, God through the prophet Isaiah mentions it: “But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, The descendants of Abraham My friend” (Is. 41:8). The very idea that God considered Abraham his friend is truly remarkable. If every Christian alive today were simply considered God’s friend that would speak volumes about their relationship to God.
In conclusion, may it be our desire to be more like Abraham in regard to the principles set forth in the word of God. Since “whatever things were written before were written for our learning…” (Rom. 15:4), it goes without saying that there is much to learn from the relationship that God had with Abraham. Abraham’s faithfulness, family, and friendship with God give us a wonderful picture of the kind of relationship we should all strive to have with our God.
Spencer Strickland has been privileged to serve as the associate editor for the Carolina Messenger for 5 years and has been preaching for 22 years.