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Being a friend of God

by Gerald Fruhinsholz

Read the texts Genesis 18, John 3:29 and John 8:1-6.

Is it possible to be "the friend of God"? What does that mean?

God is looking for an encounter with a partner, a friend

Every Shabbat the Jews reckon on reading two parashot (Biblical passages) in each of the patriarchs; and so the life of Abraham is read in two portions: from chapter 12 to chapter 17 and from chapter 18 to chapter 24. Genesis 12 is the beginning of the great adventure for Abram and his descendants, Israel. God has chosen for Himself a man who agrees to walk with Him, He makes a covenant. It is God's plan. Abram will become the quintessential man of faith and the man in whom He puts His trust, to whom He reveals Himself.

"Abram put his trust (faith) in the Lord who imputed it to him as righteousness" (Genesis 15:6).

Genesis 17 is a pivotal chapter, for Abram and Sara receive the letter ה (heh), the breath of God which is going to change their lives. It is the 5th letter, and Jews say that the fifth figure is the figure which makes the connection with God.

"Our Masters say in the Talmud: our world has been created with the letter ה (heh) whose numerical value is 5. The figure 5 represents the 4 dimensions of this world when they are connected to the Divine. That is the reason that God added the letter ה (heh) to Avram and he was called Avraham because he was the first to connect the world to God since Adam's offence.

It is also the reason the Torah is composed of 5 books because the Torah also enables the world to be connected to God. In the history, the Jewish people has a mission to be the 5th dimension and reconnect the world to God. In fact it comes after the mineral, vegetable, animal and human.

When Israel becomes again the people of the heh (ה), then the Nations (ד the Dalet) will cease to oppose us. The heh (5) will he united with the Dalet (4) and they will form the figure 9 which is the numerical value of the word EMET (אמת, the truth)".

It is Rabbi Dynovizc who writes this and it is very interesting. Personally I would say that, we Christians are the people of the ח (khet) – that is the 8th letter. It is the letter for "Rouach" – the Spirit. We are people of the 8th day, because we have received the 'khet', the Spirit (as Abram received the "heh"). We have issued forth from the Resurrection, the 8th day - Sunday. The millennium is the 8th day, for Sim'hat Torah (literally the "joy of the Torah") is the 8th day of Sukkot. Circumcision is on the 8th day, which introduced the child into the community and a new life.

God is looking for a friend and He finds him in Abraham, to whom he reveals His secrets (Genesis 18:17, read also Amos 3:7). In the Church the Lord is looking for friends, people who are available, detached from their personal concerns and ready to enter into the Divine confiding, ready "to have discussion" with God to plead as Abraham pleaded for Sodom, for Lot and those who may well be righteous. That requires an active, working faith. That comes together with intercession, this word meaning: to place oneself between God and the subject one is praying for.

The mark of God

We are two peoples – Israel and the Church – marked by God. Both the "heh" and the "khet" are the mark of the Spirit, imparted to us by God. Abraham and Sarah have received from the Lord in order to be His representatives for the world through the law and by virtue of being the Chosen People. Sometimes the Jewish people would very much like to do without this distinctive mark for they have been persecuted for it throughout their entire history – "the yellow star" is an example of the infamous mark that the world wants to place on them. That is why Israel (or a part of Israel) would like to be "like other nations". However, they have no other choice but to accept this responsibility of being "the holy people", moving towards the completion of their mission – the salvation of humankind depends on it. For that reason let us be their friends!

We Christians have received "the mark of the Spirit of resurrection". When Sarai (meaning "noble") becomes Sarah (meaning "princess"), she passes from the state of being "noble" to that of being a "princess".

At first sight it is a privilege. She comes home to the royal family. However, beyond the pleasure of being a princess, there are all the burdens that encumber her. Also a princess is no longer free for herself she has the duties of responsibility. As a result of this, royal protocol requires her to act: the world watches her, she no longer belongs to herself.

It is the same for us Christians: we are in Christ and we belong to Him; He has redeemed us at the cost of His blood by His own death. The difference (with Israel which is re-clothed with the Spirit) is that the Holy Spirit has been placed "in us", to help us in our responsibilities. However, God leaves us totally free in our choice to belong to Him, it is the mystery of His love and the freedom of His grace.

So it is that Ruth decided for herself to love Israel and to die for this nation that welcomed her, because she had understood which God was watching over Israel. Esther in spite of her delicate position, did not resist the call of Mordecai: she risked her own life to save the Jewish people, knowing that God had placed her near to the king to make him intervene. We are, as the Church and the Body of Christ, in the same position as Esther. We can approach the King of kings, and take the golden sceptre that He holds out to us.

The golden sceptre

The golden sceptre, I would say it is the sign of friendship, of trust which God gives to us when we want, as Abraham did, to debate with Him. It is the ultimate sign. In John 15:15 Jesus tells us that we are not only servants but that we can be "His friends", saying that it is not we who have chosen Him, but that it is He who has chosen us and established us in a privileged royal position. That means that He makes us capable of intervening in the affairs of His Father's Kingdom. We can do nothing through our own strength, but He makes us capable – "in order that you may go and bear fruit and that your fruit may abide".

The important condition for bearing fruit is in verse 2: "Every branch that bears fruit, He prunes". Do we want this? Jesus has already spoken out the conditions in the Sermon on the Mount: are we capable of preferring Him to our own comfort, to our family, to our children? Can we put up with what Job bore, or rather would we accept it? We know that the Lord does not demand of us what we cannot bear. But He needs "friends", people in whom he can trust and with whom He can share His plan of love for the world, Abrahams who contend for the sparing of Sodom. Esthers who are ready to risk their lives to save their people, Daniels who do not deny their God.

The Lord needs people who take Him at His word and have discussions with Him in prayer and take action as a result. He will not force anyone. All that is the prayer of intercession. To pray for Israel is to make the prayer of the prophets our own, that of Jeremiah who wept for Jerusalem, that of Ezekiel to whom God said: "I am looking for intercessors, men who will stand in the gap, and I can find none" (Ezekiel 22:30).

It is to make the prayer of Joel our own: "That between the portico and the altar, the priests weep (we are they), servants of the Lord, and that they say: Lord, spare your people! Do not deliver them up to reproach" (Joel 2:17).

Being the friend of the Bridegroom

John the Baptist summarises things well when he defines himself in relation to the Lord: "You yourselves are my witnesses that I have said: I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him... The one to whom the bride belongs is the Bridegroom: but the friend of the Bridegroom who is standing there and who hears Him, experiences great joy because of the Bridegroom's voice: also, this joy, which is mine, is perfect. He must increase and I must decrease" (John 3:28-30).

There is no remorse or hesitation at all in John the Baptist. He has finished his work, completed his mission – he has prepared the way of the Messiah, until He is present in the midst of men. There is no greater joy in carrying out this work. I think that our mission today is also "to prepare the way" (Isaiah 40), that of the King of kings. His coming will be glorious for everyone of us, for Israel, for humanity. We will be insignificant before Him when He is here and reigning.

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