One major benefit of being friends with God is that we have favour and influence with God.
When we were children, one of my siblings would always try to get me to ask our father for things. He would come up innocently to ask if I wanted something or wanted to do something. If ever I happened to say yes, he would jump on it and press me to go and ask Daddy for us both. We were both children, but he thought I had more favour and influence; I certainly had more ‘mouth’. I could present my case most eloquently.
Friends of God do not just have access to God, they have influence with God. Because God is infinite and perfect, He will never act against His own will. Yet for His grace to be released in some situations, someone must ask. He requires those who are His friends to weigh in on the matter and intercede so that He can work all things out according to the counsel of His will. That is another blessing Abraham enjoyed.
Abraham had favour and influence
God appeared to 99-year-old Abraham and reiterated the promise to bless him and prosper his descendants. He had in the meantime acquired Ishmael on his own and must have thought God was referring to his descendants through Ishmael. So he went along with it until God mentioned Sarah having a child. At this point Abraham thought 90 and 100 years old respectively was perhaps a bit too old to have children. So Abraham pleaded for God to bless Ishmael. God pointed out that Ishmael was not the chosen one but He would bless him on Abraham’s request.
“And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. 21 But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.”
I love the way God said ‘I have heard you’. Beloved, you need to know that as you walk with God, He hears you. And those dear to you will receive help because you have favour with God. Even people you do not know will receive help if you bring their case before God.
The next encounter
During his next encounter with God, Abraham had the opportunity to weigh in on a divine decision, after the conversation about Sarah’s future experience of motherhood. God chose to inform Abraham of the likelihood that the cities of the plain would be judged for their wickedness. Abraham in response exerted some measure of influence on their behalf calling for mercy. The exchange is captivating. In all humility, like one bargaining in a Nigerian market, he asks for clemency and a stay of judgement if some righteous people were found in the city. He went from 50, to 45, to 40, to 35, to 30, to 20, to 10. To all, God responded yes.
Someone said to me once that God did not answer Abraham’s prayer and his intercession failed. Not so. God said yes at every point to Abraham’s request and to the conditions he proposed. The problem is that the conditions were not met. Only four people were saved from Sodom; even then, the status of Lot’s wife is up for debate. What was she hankering after in Sodom? Why did she look back? The ten righteous were not found. Contrast Lot and Abraham. One was in the city to be destroyed, having no knowledge of it. God did not speak to Him or even invite him to intercede for the city. The other was far away and God chose to listen to him.
The benefits of being friends with God spill over on our entourage
Abraham’s favour with God is the reason He spared Lot. After Abraham’s intercession failed to save Sodom and Gomorrah, the angels went on to effect judgement on the cities. Lot initially lived outside Sodom, but at some point, he made the poor choice of moving into the city. The Bible calls Lot a righteous man and says that his soul was grieved because of the iniquity in Sodom. However, he stayed on, and he would have perished with them.
“Gen. 19.29 So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.”
God’s kindness to His friend led not only to the rescue of Lot and his family but also to the preservation of an entire city. When the angel led Lot and his family out of Sodom, he told him to go to the mountain. Lot in fear asks to flee to a city nearby thinking that by the time he reached the mountain the destruction might catch up with him on the way. The request is granted; he is allowed to flee to the city and the Word of God says that that city was spared because of Lot. That is huge.
This article is an excerpt from my new book ‘When God calls you friend’. It deals with the concept of divine friendship, the benefits that accrue to a person who lives as a friend of God and how one becomes a friend of God. I will be posting more excerpts in the days to come.
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