|ISN'T it a wonderful thing to have friends? And the
very best friends that any of us can have are God and Jesus. But did you know that God
himself has friends? Yes, that's right. All the people here on earth who do the things
that please him are God's friends. Of course we are all trying to do the things which
please God, so we can be his friends.
Long, long ago, God had a very special friend whose name was Abraham. That's a wonderful name! It is a name which really means something. It means one who is the father of many people. Of course Abraham didn't have many children of his own. But, then, the Bible tells us that all the people who have ever lived on the earth, and, who believe God and do the things which please him, are to become the family of Abraham. That's why Abraham is called the father of so many people.
It was a long time after Noah built his big boat and all the water was on the earth that Abraham was a little boy. When Abraham grew up and was married, he lived in a city. Oh, it wasn't New York City, and it wasn't London. It was a city with a very short name. It was called Ur, and it was in a country called Chaldea. Funny name! But I suppose it was a good name in those days.
In all the countrv of Chaldea there was hardly anyone who believed God. The people in that country thought the moon was God, and so they worshiped the moon. Wasn't that strange? We would not want to pray to the moon, would we? We know that the moon can't do anything for us.
In those days long ago most people didn't seem to know any better. Of course, Abraham knew better. You see, Abraham was born only two years after Noah died, so Abraham knew how good God had been to Noah and his family. Abraham loved God, and worshiped him. Abraham believed everything God said, and that was why he was God's friend.
When Abraham was seventy-five years old, God sent him a very special message, and what do you think it was? He sent word to Abraham that he wanted him to move away from his home city of Ur and to go into another country miles and miles away.
It wasn't easy for Abraham to do this. He didn't have an automobile, and there were neither trains nor airplanes in which to travel. Oh, no! There were only two ways that Abraham could travel. One way was to walk, or if he didn't care to walk, he could ride on the back of a camel or a donkey. But riding on a camel or a.donkey such a long distance is very tiring, because they don't walk very fast.
So, to move miles and miles away was something very hard to do! But Abraham believed that God knew best. He was sure that anything God wanted done was the very best thing to. That is another reason, you see, why Abraham was God's friend. God knew lie could trust Abraham. That is what it means to have a friend, isn't it?
Abraham's wife's name was Sarah, and of course God wanted Sarah to go with Abraham. And God made a wonderful promise to them . You see, they didn't have any children, but God said that if they did as lie wanted them to, they would have a son. God promised also that the children of Abraham would be used to do good to all the other people in the world.
Abraham's brother had a son named Lot, and Lot lived with Abraham's father. And what do you think? Lot decided he, too, would like to go with Abraham. So, you see, when they finally started away from the city of Ur they were quite a family. There was Abraham, and Sarah, and Abraham's father, and Abraham's nephew, Lot.
But that wasn't all!
Although Abraham lived in a city, he must have had a farm outside the city, because he had many cattle and sheep which he took with him. Of course they had to walk. Just imagine Abraham, and his family, and all the cattle and sheep starting out through the country in the direction of the place God asked them to go.
As I told you before, there were no automobiles then, and they didn't have hard roads, either. I suppose most of the way on their journey toward the land which God promised to Abraham they didn't find roads at all.
And they didn't have hotels in which to stay at night. The Bible tells us that they lived in tents. This means that toward the end of each day, as they traveled along, they would have to find a place where they could set up their tents and stay overnight. It must have been very hard to journey that way, but perhaps they enjoyed the trip, anyway. It's fun to go camping if you don't stay too long.
Can you imagine Abraham and his family with their tents all set up at the close of the day? Out in the fields, all around the tents, there would be a great number of cattle and sheep. The cows would "moo" and the sheep would "baa."
Of course the whole family would need to have supper. And maybe Sarah and Lot's wife would be cooking something for the rest of the family. So out beyond the tents we can imagine that smoke is coming up from the fire which they have just made. It is getting quite late in the evening now, and the sun is going down behind a mountain. Yes, it must have been rather pleasant and exciting, too.
But Abraham wasn't taking this journey just as a vacation. Really, he didn't know just where he was going! All he knew was that God promised to show him where to go, and he believed God. He was sure God would show him the way to a good place. And he did!
They journeyed on and on, day after day and week after week. They didn't go very far each day, and I think we can understand why. Finally they came to a place called Haran. Haran was in a country called Mesopotamia, in the country where the Garden of Eden used to be. The country which was called Mesopotamia when Abraham journeyed through it is now called Iraq. So, you see, it was a real country, and it is still on the earth today, but now it has a different name.
When Abraham and his father and the rest of the family arrived in Haran something happened. What do you suppose it was? Why, Abraham's father died. He was quite an old man, and that is why he died. He wasn't strong enough to keep on traveling day after day. But after Abraham's father died they started on the journey again, and finally they reached the land which God had promised to Abraham.
There was something else that God promised which Abraham wondered about. God promised him and Sarah that he would give them a son, but as yet he hadn't given them any children. This was a good lesson for Abraham, and it is a good lesson for all of us. God does not always do right away what he promises to do. But we can be sure that if God promises to do anything he will do it when the right time comes. There is no doubt about that!
God has promised to do many wonderful things for all the people of the world. Why, God has promised that all the people who have died will be brought back to life again, and we will be able to see them, and talk with them, and live with them. Isn't that wonderful?
It has been a long time since God made these promises, but that doesn't mean that he won't do what he has promised. God has a time for doing everything, and when his time comes, all his promises will come true! Yes, God promised Abraham and Sarah that he would give them a son, but God's time hadn't come, so Abraham and Sarah had to wait.
One day three angels visited Abraham. Of course he didn't know that they were angels as they looked just like men. He thought they were travelers who were passing through the country and just happened to go by his home, which was a tent. He probably thought they were hungry, because, as we have just learned there were no hotels and restaurants in Abraham's time. Maybe Abraham thought his home was the only one these three angels had seen in a long time, having perhaps been on a long journey.
Now, Abraham was a very good man. Not only did he love God, but he wanted to do everything he thought God would do. He knew that God supplies everyone with food, that he makes delicious fruits and vegetables grow right up out of the ground so we can always have something to eat. Abraham thought since God was so good to him, he should give some food to these strangers. In that way, you see, he would be generous like God.
So Abraham invited the strangers to come in. It probablv was a hot day, so Abraham didn't take them into the tent, but had them sit down under a big tree out in the field. Abraham asked one of his servants to cook some meat, and lie asked his wife to bake some bread. When everything was readythe meat and bread, and whatever other food they hadit was brought out under the tree. There they sat and ate.
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