The attribute of a friend is generally seen as a person who has love; a loyal, trustworthy, devoted and faithful intimate companion; a friend is also a confidant; a person in whom one can confide, disclose, reveal, divulge or open ones heart to knowing that he/she will believe and understand.
God’s love has to be the foundation of a true friendship. His love unites souls together to form a bond or union that is eternally faithful to their friendship. As a result a friendship is an unwritten covenant of faith and love between or among friends. David and Jonathan are an example of such a friendship.
“Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself; and Saul took him that day and did not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.” (1 Samuel 18:1-3 NAS).
In the beginning God had a covenant of friendship with Adam; but Adam became unfaithful, thus he broke the covenant.
“Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” (Genesis 5:22-24 NAS).
Enoch was faithful to the covenant of friendship with God, thus he did not taste death.
Noah found favor with God and because of their covenant of friendship God disclosed all that He was about to do.
“These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God. And Noah became the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. Then God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth.” (Genesis 6:9-13 NAS).
Then God began to give instructions to Noah to build an ark that he and his family might escape the wrath to come. Noah believed God and followed His instructions in building the ark. As he worked on the ark he preached repentance and warned the world for 120 years of God’s judgment.
By faith he built the ark not knowing the exact time the end was to come; but knowing for sure and certain that it was coming. He observed the signs of the times and the age in which he was living and listened obediently to his Heavenly Father. In due season God told Noah to prepare the creatures for boarding the ark; Noah knew the time was near.
When all was prepared God told Noah to take his family and go aboard and at that time God sealed the door of the ark shut. The day of the flood did not come suddenly upon Noah for he was faithful to his Friend. But to those who would not listen to his preaching, but mocked him instead, the end came as “a thief in the night.”
Abraham was also called God’s friend; “Didst Thou not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Thy people Israel, and give it to the descendants of Abraham Thy friend forever.” (2 Chronicles 20:7 NAS).
The apostle James also made reference to Abraham’s friendship with God in relationship to his works or obedience. Like Noah, Abraham heard and obeyed God thus completing faith.
“You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,’ and he was called the friend of God.” (James 2:22-23 NAS).
Because of their mutual friendship God kept nothing hidden from Abraham.
“And the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed?” (Genesis 18:17-18 NAS).
God told Abraham of what He was about to do to Sodom and Gomorrah because of the wickedness there. Abraham responded by interceding for his nephew Lot who lived in one of these cities. As a result God sent messengers to warn Lot and to bring he and his family out. Lot heeded God’s word, thus the day of God’s wrath did not come as “a thief in the night” to Lot and his family.
God also spoke to Moses “face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” (Exodus 33:11f). As God’s friend Moses knew His ways and was faithful to Him in all that God expected of him. When it came time to deliver the children of Israel from the bondage of Egypt God sent Moses and Aaron to tell the sons of Israel what He was about to do (Exodus 4:29-31). Thus the friends of God knew in advance of the judgment of Egypt and their own forthcoming deliverance. Down through history God has spoke through His prophets and those who were His faithful friends knew His prophets, believed their words, obeyed His commandments and were spared from His wrath.
Jesus is an outpouring of God’s friendship and love. Through Him our Heavenly Father has established a kingdom of faith, love and friendship. Jesus began His covenant of friendship with His disciples teaching them love and calling them His friends.
“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends, if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:11-15 NAS).
God has gave to those who are His friends an ark of salvation in His Son that they shall not suffer the wrath to come. Those who listen, hear and obey become a friend of the greatest Friend that mankind has ever known.
The message we have labored to deliver to this point in our study is that God reveals to His friends of faith and love what He is about to do. To the faithful the Lord’s coming WILL NOT BE AS A THIEF IN THE NIGHT!
“Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 NAS).
As to the “times” of the day of His return Jesus gives these words of understanding to the faithful.
“But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken, and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; even so you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”(Matthew 24:31-34 NAS).
The Greek word “epochs” speaks of an age rather than a “season.” For examples; the stone-age; the flood age (or days of the great flood): the industrial age or the computer age and etc. Jesus spoke of the days of His coming as being as in the days of Noah; or likened unto the age or times of Noah (Matthew 24:37; Luke 17:26). Thus the apostle assumes in this writing that there is no need to write to men of faith concerning the return of the Lord because they are informed of the “times and epochs.” Like Noah, we do not know exactly what day He is coming; and we do know that He is coming; and we are certain we are in the epochs (or age) of His coming; and we are confident He will reveal to us anything else we need to know in due season. But to those who are not of faith He will come as “a thief in the night.”
“But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him.” (1 Thessalonians 5:4-10 NAS).
God’s wrath is the manifestation of His anger and fury reserved for those who reject His love and insist upon rebelling against Him. Those who receive His love through believing and obeying Him are His friends.
As we study the life of Jesus in the days He walked with His disciples we see Him being a friend to all who followed Him. We see the great attributes of love, loyalty, trustworthiness, devotion and intimate companionship. We see in Him a confidant or a person in whom one can confide, disclose, reveal, divulge or open ones heart to knowing that He understands. We see a friend who is not ashamed to call us His brothers (Hebrews 2:11-12). We see a friend who gave His life that we may live.
To know Him as the disciples knew Him we must each have our own personal relationship with Him. We must become His friend in the same manner as they did. Then we can expect to hear Him say to us also, “you are My friends.” He expects no more or no less of us than He did of them. Through our personal experience with Him our souls are knit together with His in love as we become devoted friends. Our own personal faith relationship with Him in our day to day trials and triumphs further proves His great love and friendship. From faith to faith He gives us the joy of knowing the victory is ours in all things in and through Him. Through our own personal experiences we know we have such a great friend, therefore we are not faint hearted, but confident that He is able to protect and deliver His friends.
“For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10).
What a friend we have in Jesus!!!
James C Sanford